I admit I did not have, nor did I take the time to properly research where the best flowers would be within the National Forest.
What I thought would be a weekend of frolicking in fields of wildflowers; photographing the beautiful blooms from sun up until days end became a scouting trip for future images and an alpine lake dominated photo excursion. I knew wildflower fields existed among the many lakes of the Uintas, but for the life of me I could not find them. I hadn't taken the time to research the best locations online, and I really only had a basic game plan. When we arrived we found only one campsite left available. It was July 24th( a holiday in Utah equivalent to 4th of July) and the Utahans were out in force celebrating. On top of this a search and rescue operation was going on for a man who went missing overnight near Hidden Lakes.
After setting up camp for the evening Anna and I sat down with the map and determined where we would begin our search. It seemed to us at the time, that our best option would be to head down towards Lily Lake to begin our search. We didn't find much in the way of wildflowers at Lily lake, nor did we at the following 4 lakes we went to; Trial, Moosehorn, Mirror and Butterfly Lakes were all gorgeous in their own unique ways, and I found a few working compositions that I referenced for future photoshoots. I wasn't sold on the locations however, and had a pre visualized idea of what I wanted.
We searched high....
and we searched low...
but wildflowers that still looked photogenic were not to be found. We stumbled across one area that looked promising...
However, when we drew closer discovered the flowers were past their peak. I began to wonder if I was going to find a composition I would like.
We came upon Butterfly Lake quite by accident and I happened to find a composition I wanted to shoot of the lake. I decided I would return the following day, but I still wasn't ready to give up on the wildflowers quite yet. And so it was that we ended up near Ruth Lake at sunset. I had not found my wildflower field, but had found a neat reflection in a small pond near Ruth Lake. I decided it was my best chance for an image that evening and went about composing my shot. I took a few test photos as the light began to fade and finally settled on a composition.
I started off by shooting a panorama of 5 images. There were a few wildflowers in the foreground and I still had it in my mind to capture them. The light was fading fast, so I moved closer and tightened my field of view, which resulted in an almost perfect reflection in the still waters.
There was hardly a cloud in the sky and on this occasion I was okay with it. It was a simple image without clutter. The light faded off of the mountain and as I was about to pack up, a cloud (more like a whisp) caught the remaining light of the day above the peak and mimicked the shape of the mountain nicely. I took one more image. It is similar to the image above, but has a totally different feel to it.
I enjoy both images and am not sure I can pick a favorite between the two. Anyhow, the light faded and night settled in. We returned to our campsite weary from the days hiking (I think we clocked 9 miles).
The following day we wanted to scout a location farther away from the road and so we slept in past sunrise (until7:00). We awoke, made breakfast burritos, packed, and drove to our trailhead. Notch Lake has been on my radar since we last visited Utah and it was a place I wanted to explore in depth. I decided it best not to wander off in the morning before it was light out without knowing the trail. So, as the light rose, we began our hike. It was a 3.7 mile hike to the lake and we circled the lake in search of compositions before I found an amazing location at the top of a cliff band that ran along the far side of the lake.
We scampered up and I set up my camera for a reference photo. I knew the evening wasn't going to have much cloud cover, so we didn't wait around for an "ok" image. I have great plans for this location and can't wait to return when the weather is just right. We left our perch on top of the cliff and hiked back to our vehicle; where we proceeded to travel to Butterfly lake and the composition I had discovered the day before.
I set my camera up, got out my camp chair and read a book until the light began to get good. As the light faded I captured the image of the trip, which was a good thing, because as the night sky appeared, we headed back to the comforts of our home.
On the drive home I was already formulating a plan of action for the next few days. I desperately wanted to photograph the Timpanogos Basin as the wildflowers were at their peak. By the next morning it was all planned and I began preparations for the trip. Then, the wildfires began!