landscape, travel

MT Obsession // Pilot Peak

Okay, so I have another mountain portrait obsession*.  Pilot Peak.  Well, technically, it started four years ago on my usual Fall trip to Wyoming and Montana.  But it really hit me this year.

*Note: See Squaretop & Long’s Peak

I didn’t spend more than a few mid-afternoon hours exploring a few different vantage points this year, but be watching in the future, because I will no doubt return.

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Pilot is a very Matterhorn-esque peak with a really dramatic and jagged summit.

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For the most part, this visit was a scouting trip.  I know, I know… I’ve been to this area 10,000 times.  But I’ve had a lot of new vision swirling around my brain lately, so I’m beginning to see things a little differently.

I’m excited to see growth this year.  And new mountain obsessions…

— andrew


 
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art, family, photography, random thought, travel, writing

wyoming: day 2 (riding the drift, etc.)

we woke before the sun came up… it was a big day.  i made some coffee and we set off to meet Mike and Ellen at kendall bridge.

from there we would follow the horse trailers towards union pass, then off-road in the direction of a cow camp near a bend in the green river.

we finally stopped.  all in all, there were 4 or 5 trailers and about 8-10 cowboys/ cowgirls.

Mike helped saddle pistol pete for Elle, and they were off!  riding the drift…

my Elle was kind of easy to spot with her sombrero and bright green patagonia jacket…

the two Ellens riding together…

now that’s some real cowboyin’!

can’t have a true cattle drive without the iconic western dust haze backlit by a slowly rising sun!

so they rode off deep into the sunrise… and Mike and i decided to go look for bears, like we’ve done so often the last 6 years.

good ol’ squaretop… such a handsome mountain.  i really don’t think i’ll ever get sick of looking at and photographing it.

we ended up seeing more dogs that morning than bears.  and i saw my first ever river rafting dachshund!

the Ellens finished their cattle drive early… round about noon, and my Elle was exhausted.

so after eating a little peanut butter and honey tortilla lunch, she caught  a nice afternoon nap.  much needed.

Mike and Ellen came back again that evening to have dinner with us.  we took a few more campfire photos… like we did the year before.

Elle got a really cool shot of me…

then i got a shot of her, and made a ghostly appearance in it…

and then i got to shoot another squaretop star photo.

it was another great day in our favorite place in the world, doing all sorts of fun things.

man, if you ever hear me complaining about anything at all, just punch me right in the jaw.  seriously.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2011

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journal: montana

6-18-09

my car is facing away from the mountain.  i wake to the cold and rain.  it’s 5:30 a.m.

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behind me, the mountain is covered in a thin fog, like a bride under her fine lace veil.  she thought she was hiding from me, but how could i not notice her?

cooke city, montana has always treated me well, but this morning, i feel lost.

i rolled in late last night.  weary from the road and rain.  the miner’s saloon, as inviting as it always is, seemed distant.  they only take cash, and the big city man i am, i only had plastic.  no problem, i thought.  this always happens.  luckily, they have the only atm in town.  i slid the blue card in nice and easy, and yanked it back in a forceful, but fluid motion.  “out of order.”  !?!?  but i had already started drinking my beer!

i apologized.  the bartendress seemed annoyed at my genuine apology.

“well, i guess this one’s on me,” she said angrily.

i finished my free scapegoat pale ale and left.

my usual “free” campsite at the edge of town was closed with no explanation.  i put “free” in quotes because i believe you’re supposed to pay.  but i always seem to pull into cooke city after dark… so, i never have.

i decided to park at the old city dump, on the other edge of town.  it only takes about two minutes to walk from one end of town to the other.

i reclined the driver seat of my chevy aveo rental, wrapped myself haphazardly in a sleeping bag, and called it a day.

now here i am; seven hours of restless sleep later.

the sun rose somewhere already, but not here.  the cloud cover is thick, and there’s a light drizzle.  35 degrees.  massive lodgepole pines in front of me absorb the rain like thirsty sailors imbibe on the first day of fleet week.

lately my heart’s been heavy like a sandbag.

this morning is no different.  in fact, today it’s worse.

it feels like someone tied a cinder block, or a dozen, to my chest, and dropped it in the deepest ocean.

if it felt possible to cry, i would.  but i wouldn’t know what for.  after all, i’m in one of my favorite places in the world.

so i decided to start my day.

i made a cup of coffee and rolled a cigarette.  yeah i know, i quit smoking three years ago.  it was three years ago almost to the day when i started again in spain.  then it continued on into lebanon…

you can smoke anywhere in lebanon.  just walk into the airport in beirut with a lit cigarette, and see if i’m exaggerating.

so, unfortunately, for a time, i’m smoking again.

slowly my mind and body, cold and slightly wet from the night before, begin to wake up.

the lamar valley of yellowstone anxiously awaited my arrival.  but the sun still hides it’s precious rays.

in spite of my thoughts, behind the clouds, the light is there just waiting for me to remember it still exists.

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all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009

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renewal year

i’m not a fan of new years celebrations.  getting dressed up, paying inflated party fees, and sipping head-ache inducing champagne, is not my idea of ending or beginning any year.  so, a last minute decision placed me in big bend national park, alone, to ring in ’09.

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i climbed to the top of the dodson trail, on the outer chisos mountain loop, and received a clear view of the year passed and the year to come.

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my new year suite… a perfect little spot in the high mountain desert.  ocotillo surround and protect my tent.

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first cup of coffee of 2009.  what a beautiful morning… and hey… no headache!  i traded my tuxedo from the night before for the “german tourist” look – wool hiking socks and chacos.  sexy, huh?

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the mountains were magical as always.  it was a real treat to spend the first hours of 2009 in quiet reflection.

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i hiked up to cattail falls, a highlight of every one of my dozens of trips to this great park.  the flow was just a trickle… like usual.  but it was cool and calm in the small canyon.

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as i hiked down from the falls, i was again rewarded with an amazing view.  i am hopeful for 2009.  cliche or not, i am hopeful.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2008

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