In the Park, in the Rain

A Resident Artist on the Road

Story and Photos by Linda Lantzy

By three p.m., I have driven to an elevation of 9,300 feet and have begun sitting out a rainstorm, surrounded by the ten-thousand-foot peaks of the Beaverhead Mountains.

Here by the shores of an alpine lake the road has ended after a painstakingly slow twenty-six-mile trek from the valley floor. With each mile, the road became rougher and my confidence waned as I reconsidered my choice of destination. But I also noticed the wildflowers, long out of season in the lower elevations, becoming increasingly abundant. They propelled me onward and upward as white daisies gave way to blue fleabane. I stopped at a mossy boulder-lined stream that was playing the tune of the forest, and felt rejuvenated. The goldenrod and sprinkling of fireweed enticed me farther, to encounters with purple lupine and finally the red of Indian paintbrush. When a road sign cautioned that the last mile was not suitable for standard vehicles, I paused to shift into four-wheel low and climb the last grueling, seemingly vertical stretch to the lake. Before I even had time to get out of the vehicle, the clouds opened and the rain began.

Now as I contemplate what to do next, I doze off for a much-needed sleep. I awake with a start, realizing the sun has emerged from hiding. Grabbing my tripod and camera from the backseat, I walk the short distance to the lake and take one quick shot, but this should be a morning scene. Envisioning the first light touching the east-facing bowl of these granite peaks, I decide the lake can wait until dawn. I settle in, photographing the creek and following it downstream until it plunges about four hundred feet through a series of cascades into the forest below. Not a place I want to lose my footing on the slippery rocks midstream. I back away from the edge and as the rain returns I seek the shelter of my vehicle. There will be no nice sunset light tonight.

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