Well, first things first. Let’s just get this out of the way right now:
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way (and stuck in your head), let’s get to the real story: what happens when you really do go to the other side of a mountain?
My friend, my daughter and I had 3 interesting backpacking trips in the last 3 years. Due to our inability to get a permit for the lake we wanted to visit in the Desolation Wilderness (Suzie Lake) last year, we ended up getting a permit for Clyde Lake instead, which was directly across a stunning ridge from Islands Lake where we had stayed the year before.
This ridge has some fascinating (and steep) features to it that made me photograph it the first year in the fading sunlight, and again the second year from the opposite side during sunrise. I suspect it’s fairly rare for people to visit both sides of a mountain, so I thought I’d document my dual sightings for you, as I found the landscape fascinating and I hope you do too. Included in the images below is a map showing arrows depicting the two vantage points, marked with the year the photos were taken.
It turns out that we are generally unlucky, as this year we again failed to get a permit for Suzie Lake. But, we refused to be rebuked and took a day hike to this gorgeous lake from our base camp. When we got to the ridge overlooking the valley, we realized we were once again staring at the back side of a mountain we had camped beside just the year prior. This time the mountain had a name: “Jack’s Peak”. So here again are two shots of Jack’s peak, and it’s little off-shoot ridge, taken from opposite sides. (The images are also taken in different seasons, hence the snow cover in this year’s image).
The above is an interesting tale of coincidences, but what can we learn from it for those of you who are photographers as well? Answer: it’s always worth visiting every side of a subject to determine which is the most spectacular and worth capturing. This is fairly easy to accomplish if you’re shooting architecture, macro work, small landscapes (like a meadow, lake, etc.), … But, if you’re dabbling in larger landscapes like mountains, it’s still very worth your while to take a walk around that object to see what the perspective is from the other side. It may take years, as Ansel Adams showed while documenting Yosemite. Mountains are certainly an entirely different beast as it’s rare that people visit both sides on a single trip. We’re more apt to climb up one side, and then back down the way we came rather than to continue forward. However, let me tell you that it’s worth doing if you ever get the chance. Even if it’s a year later when the opportunity presents itself. Or, in our case, the opportunity forces itself upon you.