Moody Blues, Golden Hues – Snow Shoeing in Ferguson Canyon, Saturday 21 December 2013

With barely enough backlight to illuminate the golden glow of maple keys, this photo has been highly contrasted to illustrate the mood.

With barely enough backlight to illuminate the golden glow of maple keys, this photo has been highly contrasted to illustrate the mood.

Highly colorized and contrasted thickets shout their rage against winter's oppression.

Highly colorized and contrasted thickets shout their rage against winter’s oppression.

A natural arch formed by a bent sapling forms a passage through Wonderland.

A natural arch formed by a bent sapling forms a passage through Wonderland.

Only the heat signature can reveal the contrast between shadowy cliffs and snowy ridges against a dusky sky.

Only the heat signature can reveal the contrast between shadowy cliffs and snowy ridges against a dusky sky.

Heavily highlighted, I've forced some sunshine into this cliff edge shrub.

Heavily highlighted, I’ve forced some sunshine into this cliff edge shrub.

Colorful cliff bands have been drawn out in this colorized photo.

Colorful cliff bands have been drawn out in this colorized photo.

Solo snow shoe in Ferguson Canyon Saturday 21 December 2013 – I was up at 4:20am. I was on the trail by 5:20am, so bright with the city lights and snow and low clouds, that I didn’t use my headlamp until I was deep in the canyon and having difficulty finding the unused trail beyond the switchbacks to the overlook.

On a grey morning, a frosted pine is decorated for Christmas just a days away.

On a grey morning, a frosted pine is decorated for Christmas just a days away.

The view from the overlook is blue on grey.

The view from the overlook is blue on grey.

It was a stunning canyon, heavily wooded, festooned with thick coating of snow, and very vertical with granite cliffs.

One cannot appreciate the majesty of this rock outcropping from this dismal photo, but it was indeed grand.

One cannot appreciate the majesty of this rock outcropping from this dismal photo, but it was indeed grand.

Flocked with snow on all surfaces, this heather against rock rests in gloomy morning shadow.

Flocked with snow on all surfaces, this heather against rock rests in gloomy morning shadow.

I got past the double knobbed ridge peak, and although the trail should have gone further, I couldn’t find the buried trail, and it was getting harder and harder to plow my own path through steep, deep powder.

There is color, but the mantle of white covers all.

There is color, but the mantle of white covers all.

Wisps of long grass pierce the blanket of snow.

Wisps of long grass pierce the blanket of snow.

Altogether, I snow shoed Ferguson Canyon from 5:20am-9:10am from the 5,300′ trailhead on Timberline Lane in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, to about 7,000′ elevation where the trail beyond the switchbacks rejoins the creek about 2 miles in, a gain of 1,700′, plus a .15 mile side spur to the overlook, for a total of 4.3 miles, up in 2.5 hours, down in 1.5, with lots of photo stops. A most rewarding morning!

But when I reviewed the pictures, I was surely dismayed. Have you ever looked back on your wilderness pictures to find that they turned out lifeless and grey when your recollection of the adventure was full of hope and confidence? The reality didn’t fit your mood? How is it that a grateful attitude can overcome oppressing overcast and inspire wonder despite the smothering smog of inversion’s heavy gloom?

Passages through thickets

Passages through thickets

These pictures of Ferguson Canyon in winter’s grasp came out totally grey, with little contrast between the snowy ground and the grey sky, no slanting sunlight to accent the dawn, nor moon to illuminate the night.

Inserting Contrasts

Inserting Contrasts

Even though the narrow canyon was lined with fantastic cliff bands and the vistas of the valley’s twinkling lights and the canyon’s craggy walls were marvelous to behold, the lack of contrast on film did not recall the emulsion impressed on my memory. I have had to highly alter these pictures to draw out color and contrast.

Illuminated Illustrations

Illuminated Illustrations

So listen for the unseen splendor.  Feel the comfort of the frosty silence.  See what you did not imagine.

Cliff Contrasts

Cliff Contrasts

Exult at the wonder of the dripping seeps forming icicles, the exhilarating crunch of snow shoes on crust, and feel the rewards of laboring to break trail through deep powder.

Listen!  This photo does no justice to the timpani of drips and drops.

Listen! This photo does no justice to the timpani of drips and drops.

Can you hear the rain of the sping forming icicles in the grotto?

Can you hear the rain of the sping forming icicles in the grotto?

I will have to return and push to the upper basin another 1.5 miles beyond my terminus.  Who will come along to help me break trail?

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