Colorado Mountain Goat Adventures. One photographers dream
Packing up all my photography gear for an upcoming expedition is always very exciting. You bring everything you’ll need and try to leave everything else behind. This can be real hard when it comes to wilderness backpacking for the purpose of wildlife photography. A field of work where your co-workers are animals and the conditions of every single thing can change in a moment. Or less!
On my most recent trips, I’ve experienced extreme temperature fluctuations, making it quite apparent that one piece of gear I can’t go without is my thermal case for my camera batteries… Cold Case Gear’s West Slope Case! I don’t like any of my photo gear getting too hot or too cold and with camera batteries, I just refuse to leave it to chance. So I toss a few in my West Slope Case and call it good. When it comes to my cameras and other little items, I wrap them in very lightweight foam and a drybag and hope for the best! (big giant catch-all: next product idea for CCG, anyone?)
When I create my wildlife photography, it’s really important to me that I am dealing with wilderness and animals that are not habituated to humans. No habituation is strongly preferred, but a-little-bit-habituated has to make do once in a while ;) Some wild animals just become used to humans really easily, while others are much more cautious. On the trip I’m about to talk about, I was deep in designated wilderness and I was tracking mountain goats. A very curious species that is more closely related to antelope than goats. Who woulda thought?!
My first day of this trip started early and went quite late! As I backpacked up the side of a mountain through forest and subalpine, I regularly was finding bits of shed goat fur stuck to trees and branches, letting me know I was on the right track. Halfway through the hike, it began to rain and rain. I continued on and up, happy for a cold snap during the heat of the day.
I set up a basecamp once I was around 12,000ft. A good place to be for any adventure-keen human. I ate a dinner that consisted of two ProBars and a Tailwind packet and got changed into my base layers. Tucking myself in for the night, it felt great to rest my bones. I fell asleep quickly and rose before the sun was up.
Day two is always a day with huge plans. It’s when the photography aspect of a photography expedition truly begins. So I started getting my gear all set for a busy morning, afternoon and evening. It had dropped to nearly 10 degrees overnight, but my camera batteries were at full juice thanks to my West Slope Case. And uhhh… thanks to my second thermal case (also a West Slope) my cellphone aka story-maker also had a full charge. Two massive victories if you have ever woken to dead batteries all around- victims of the cold!
I had some very wonderful encounters with wild friends on this second day of my trip and went to sleep that evening feeling accomplished and super ready to take on the last full day of my trip! Which started very early the following morning.
I woke up to a baby snowshoe hare in my vestibule and the morning only got better! I found mountain goats and hare and of course the usual friends; pikas and marmots. I never encountered another human and was able to enjoy this time with my animal friends deeply.
On my trek out the following morning, I was nothing but content. Having accomplished everything I had hoped, with time to spare! It’s a rare thing for backpacking trips to go off without a hitch, which this one did. And it’s now in the books as one of my very favorite times tracking and making photos of wildlife.
It’s always a little daunting heading into the wilderness to find wild animals, but I find it a lot more rewarding than seeking out wild animals from a car or popular destination. Those special moments when it’s just me and the wildlife I love? They’re pretty priceless.