Knowing it would be a late night of shooting, we allowed ourselves to sleep in a little. This was going to be Sophie’s maiden voyage with the camper I had converted about 18 months ago and had only recently gotten back into working order. Even I had only been able to take it on two short camping trips before winning the Michelob contest and it had been over a year since I had used it for this purpose.
It took some time to load up everything we needed. There was a lot of camping equipment that had to be pulled out, camera gear that had to be charged and packed, and several different clothing options to deal with the warm and cold climates we would be experiencing. Then there’s bedding, cookware, and all the little things.
By the time we got out, it was about 1pm. We drove straight out to the forest, expecting to stop more along the way but never once seeing the mountain along the drive. The morning was cloudy but supposed to clear up by now!
While the rest of the sky slowly conquered its cloudy oppressor, a stubborn layer maintained its strangle hold on Mt Hood.
We began to get discouraged after several hours. It seemed the forecast was going to be both right and wrong; “mostly clear” doesn’t mean “completely clear”, and it just so happened that the thing we had come to shoot might be the one place that remained hidden.
We debated cutting our losses and going home. We had no service here nor WiFi access to check weather maps and see if something had changed. It felt like a waste of time that could be spent more productively than sitting on a picnic bench staring at nothing.
A bit of hope came with the evening golden hour. We began to catch our first fleeting glimpses of the peak of Mt Hood. Most of the mountain was still covered, but every now and then a window in the clouds would reveal our prize. All we needed was one moment tonight to get the shot – maybe it would give us that?
Sunset was a bust but things looked to be improving as night fell. Finally, around 11:30pm right as Astronomical Twilight ended and true night began, we looked out at a completely calm lake with the majestic Mt Hood towering before us. It had all been worth it!
The 40% moon proved to be a wonderful thing. While a 20-30% would have certainly been preferable, the lunar light reflecting off the snow of the mountain was absolutely magical. Sophie and I mindfully acknowledged how nice it was to be out shooting the stars again and how this moment made it all worth it.
After waiting almost 8 hours for this moment, we were done in about 10 minutes. Often you just keep shooting to see what else you can get, but we didn’t need to this time – we knew we had it.
Elated, we went back to the car and drove down the road where we found a place to park up and sleep for the night, falling into slumber with two Cheshire smiles.