This photograph was made the day after a moderately heavy winter storm in December. Many people who ski at Hunter Mountain do not recognize this view from the top of the ski lift. That’s because they are not on Hunter Mountain! Colonel’s Chair is the home of the ski resort. The real Hunter Mountain lies approximately 1.5 miles to the southeast, and is a wild, heavily forested guardian overlooking the Stony Clove. I set about with 8×10 camera package and a light lunch to photograph from the then abandoned state fire tower at the summit. Since this image was made in 1990, the Catskill Mountain firetowers have been restored for public use and are a wonderful day hikers destination offering incredible views any time of year. Back then, however, they were dangerously unmaintained and climbing them was risky; especially after a snowfall. My two friends and I began the climb off of route 214 just north of the Stony Clove. The snow was light and powdery making the ascent extremely long and difficult. Hidden rocks and roots tripped us constantly and every stumble resulted in a frustrating backward glissade nearly doubling the time it took to reach the top. The summit was extremely cold and once there, it began snowing again. We took shelter under the spruce and ate lunch waiting for a break in the weather. Before long the snow stopped and we climbed the tower in search of a high vantage point. It was soon apparent that the ricketty snow and ice covered steps and platform were to big a risk for all of us so my companions remained below as I set up the camera ten feet above them. The scene before me was magnificent. A birds eye view of the wind and snow blasted spruce and balsam with the Stony Clove and summit of nearby Plateau Mountain emerging from the clouds. I set up the 8×10 camera with a 360mm lens to gain some reach and waited for the clouds to cooperate. This time though, waiting proved futile. New clouds carrying snow moved up the Clove and began to obliterate my view. The wind picked up and more snow was imminent. Within seconds, the wind parted the clouds above Plateau, and I made my exposure, the distant summit barely visible. The snow came on full force now so I packed quickly, hopeful about this one negative. We retreated back to the trail and headed down. I stopped just below the edge of the summit and made another fine snow forest picture then joined my friends for the long, slippery descent to the valley below.©Thomas TeichClick here for reuse options!
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