Pic of the Week 4/14/23
“Charon Gardens Monochrome”
Location: Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Date taken: 3/13/23
Charon Gardens Monochrome © Ben Jacobi
In the still spring morning, the quiet was only interrupted by our huffs and puffs as we struggled our way up the steep incline. Crisscrossing our path to navigate around house-size boulders and switchbacking our way between the draws and small canyons, we eventually reached the ridgeline. It's hard to believe we were just now reaching the ridgeline; I suppose I underestimated how long it would take to hike up the mountain. The sky was clear and void of any color or clouds, which of course made photography difficult. We were determined, however, to make this hike a success. Mostly, we were on a scouting mission to confirm locations for future shots.
Now that we had made it up the ridgeline, Twin Rocks, Granite, Glass Mountain Peak, and the Sunset Peaks came into view. I have seen these mountains many times before, but this was my first time seeing them from this particular angle. My goal was to find a composition with Twin Rocks Mountain and Maple Canyon, highlighting the rugged terrain of the area. I found a few options, and I took some less-than-impressive images to document the compositions in the mediocre light. But after confirming the location, I decided I would finish the hike up to the summit.
It wasn’t particularly challenging since the hard part was over; in fact, it wasn’t more than a slight grade to the top of the mountain. Peak summits out at just under 1900’ elevation, but it does offer some great expansive views of the surrounding mountains. I’m still well below the summits of the larger mountains in the area, but getting higher up brings me closer to their level, which makes them appear larger and more dramatic. As I hiked down the summit, I became drawn to the light hitting the cliffs of Elk Mountain to my east. I’ve hiked around this area many times, but it was cool seeing it from this perspective. You really get a sense for how rough and unforgiving the terrain is at this elevation.
The late morning sun was just starting to filter into the valley down below, forming long, stretching shadows over the gentle hills. The steep and craggy cliffs of Elk Mountain were just catching hints of sunlight, creating an incredible contrast on the mountain. Although the light was great, the sky was not, and I decided right then and there that this image would be black and white. Instead of bringing out colors, I would concentrate on the texture and light in the scene. I pulled out my telephoto lens and fired off a few frames. I was quite satisfied with the composition, and I feel it best represents the wild terrain of the area. With all of the summit explored, we began to make our way back down and continue with our hike.