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kevinbroderick.com » Blog Archive » Sunrise hike to Vista

Sunrise hike to Vista


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Given the imminent arrival of summer on the calendar and the rising temperatures, I suspected that this morning might be a good opportunity to get some sunrise photos. With the sun rising on the far side of the ridgeline, Vista’s observation tower seemed to be the best option. With great reluctance, I managed to get up shortly before 0400 and head out the door at 0415.Pre-dawn light colors the mountains

As I left my apartment, the sky was already navy rather than dark; between the fast-approaching dawn and half a moon’s worth of reflected sunlight, I found my headlamp unnecessary. I moved quickly, following the work road up the Wilderness Liftline and then across to Sherman’s Pass, as I wanted to be on the tower and ready to set up by 0445. Only slightly behind schedule, I cut from Sherman’s Pass up Hard Luck Chute to reach the top of Lift 4 around 0445 and was climbing the ladder to the observation deck two minutes later.

As I reached the bottom of the tower, getting up at oh-dark-thirty seemed a lot more worthwhile. The pre-dawn glow was just beginning to creep over the next ridgeline, and mist was rising from Waterbury Reservoir and the Winooski River. With a bit of careful maneuvering, I pushed my camera bag ahead of me onto the platform and began to shoot.Mist rises from Waterbury Reservoir and the Winooski River as dawn breaks

For roughly forty minutes, I remained atop the platform; unlike the last time I had attempted sunrise photos, I did not freeze in the process—a fleece jacket was sufficient, although the cool breeze was welcome and refreshing. At that point, the sun was beginning to creep over the ridgeline and the overcast skies above Lake Champlain made me doubt that patience would provide any more opportunities. I descended the tower and followed the old path back to the plateau formerly home to the double terminal. From there, I walked back up the hill towards the return of the Vista Quad, attempting (and not quite succeeding) to find an angle that would show the clouds through the open portions of the bullwheel. At this point, the sunlight was beginning to hit atop tower 15, so I walked down to the base of 16 and tried to get a decent shot or two into the valley.Dawn lights the clouds over Ricker Mountain in Bolton Valley, Vermont

Editor’s note: Right now, you’re wondering why you care about photos that didn’t come out, I suspect. Well, you’re about to find out.

For some reason—perhaps I detected movement or perhaps just coincidence—I looked back towards Alta Vista. No more than twenty yards from me (and probably a lot closer), a bull moose was meandering up the ski trail. I raised my camera, and he stopped. I stayed as still as possible and pushed the shutter button. He remained unperturbed and continued up Alta Vista. I took a few more shots (that, like the first, were out-of-focus) as he went to the top of Alta Vista, creeping forward as I did so. I think he heard me, because he turned and trotted for several steps into Vista Glade. At this point, I carefully shed my backpack and briefly considered switching from my 50mm lens to the 70-210 in the bag. Deciding that I didn’t want to take the time or make that much noise, I simply walked forward with the intent of quietly pursuing the moose.

The moose ponders my presence before returning to more important matters.

The moose, however, had another idea. Evidently not a huge fan of Vista Glade, he decided to turn around and come back up the hill. At this point, I was on the skier’s left edge of Alta Vista. I stopped moving forward but continued shooting; the moose continued meandering up Alta Vista before turning into the woods on skier’s right. I elected not to pursue him into tight quarters, given that cornering a bull moose was not on my list of summer goals. He thrashed around in the underbrush a bit more before leaving earshot, and I went back down the hill.

One Response to “Sunrise hike to Vista”

  1. MICHAEL NIXON Says:

    Rarely updated is an UNDERSTATEMENT! It’s not like you are busy, c’mon. Step it UP Kev-Dogg! Later,
    MPN