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Old September 28th, 2010, 04:11 PM   #1
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Cat's personal tale of wonder and woe

Hi all:

In the lull while we wait for Tony's judging to be completed, I have a little tale of wonder, but mostly woe that I need to get off my mind. Hopefully, it still fits in this forum because it has to do with continued work on my UWOL long form film. The tale started last year.

My long form film is (as Kevin put it really well) a celebration of the wildlife in Rocky Mountain National Park located near my home. I had plans all along to try and get a bird's eye pan of the Park from its highest point, the summit of Longs Peak which stands at 14,255 ft (4,345 m). It's not an easy quest however, for the trail distance to the top is 8 mi (13 km) one way with an elevation gain of almost 5,000 ft (1,524 m). This would be a lot of work for a couple of minutes of film. But my heart has been set on it since I started this project. My husband and I climbed Longs almost 30 years ago! This was my personal challenge.

As the long-formers know, last summer I ended up with a serious sprained ankle filming at Andrews Glacier which precluded me from any hope of hiking Longs Peak. The frustrating thing about this is Ed and I had picked the perfect day for hiking Longs: hot, no clouds, no wind... perfect. But he ended up having to work that day and so the next day I went up to Andrews Glacier alone, and twisted my ankle in the process! So last year's "attempt" I didn't even make it to the trail head.

Now this summer comes at last, and I renew hope for the summit of Longs Peak. I share this with my neighbor who turns out that he has always dreamed of hiking Longs his entire life, without having the opportunity. So of course he joins our party. Then to my surprise, I learn that he was so excited, he flies his son out to join us. We were planning a roped route called the old Cables route, which is different from the more traffic dominated Keyhole route. Very quickly we became a slower party of four for the roped pitches near the top. Also, since his son was out for a week, we were obligated to select the best day out of that time period, which wasn't boding well.

But we went anyway and we had a wonderful time. The two were so in awe of the beauty of this mountain... so were we for that matter. But alas, it was not meant to be. We were roped up perhaps 500 feet (152 m) from the top when .... thunder. Storm clouds blew in with a wink of an eye and retreating with all four of us on ropes took long enough, much less trying to summit first and then retreat. This part doesn't bumb me out too much, because it was such a joyful experience to share with these new enthusiasts. I think it changed their lives, and as Meryem says... it's all in the journey!

Here is a little 40 sec virtual tour animation of the route we took that day that my husband Ed cooked up:


Three weeks go by, and Ed and I decide to try one last time. The season had really started to change by now and my window of opportunity was slipping away. This time, instead of shorts we had full gear from head to toe, there was almost an added hour of hiking in the dark and there was already a fresh dusting of snow up top (yes, even in late August). This time we took a route between Mount Meeker (13,911 ft; 4,240 m) and Longs Peak called the Loft. And to make a long and dangerous story short, we were thwarted again by gale-force winds up top. We edged our way up Meeker instead where I shot this sad piece of footage at its summit:

A 29 sec pan from the summit of Mount Meeker. The higher elevation mound that appears about 17 sec in is the last 300 ft (91 m) to the summit of Longs Peak.


I know. Folly. We shouldn't have been up there. That footage almost makes me want to cry.

Three weeks later, I'm writing this entry. It has been the most stable, beautiful weather here for a week now. No wind. No clouds. Just endless blue sky as far as the eye can see. I haven't felt peace with these events and a part of me has wanted to go back up again! What is going on with me! Somewhere along the way I think I crossed over from healthy enthusiasm to a very unbecoming streak of pride.

But the real reason I needed to write this post is because just 3 days ago a man fell and died on Longs Peak. Even though we are having nice weather, there is black ice up on the high peaks. This news has hit me fairly hard. This summer alone, Longs Peak has claimed 4 lives, a man had a serious fall but survived and another man was struck by lightning. And my heart goes out to each one of them.

Have any of you had an experience where all your work, effort and enthusiasm just didn't pan out the way you expected it to? Want to swap tales?

Apologies in advance for such a long post.

Cat
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Old September 28th, 2010, 04:59 PM   #2
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Cat,

I don't think it's an unbecoming streak of pride at all.
I think you have a vision in your head and you're determined to try and capture it.

Almost as good is never enough when you're trying to do your vision justice.

It's sad that four people have lost their lives on the mountain but they were doing what they loved to do.
Death is never easy but I guess if I had a choice I'd rather it be out in nature doing what I loved then to get hit by a drunk driver.

Are you thinking that maybe you were being given a message that you shouldn't make the summit?

I'm running kind of short on time right now but I have plenty of stories I can share where things didn't work out like I had hoped.

But, I'm slowly learning to just be grateful for the opportunity to try and I stay determined to try and fulfill my vision.

But you know me, if I ever fulfill my vision I'll be up on stage getting an Oscar cause I've set the bar so high for myself that I'll never get there.

But my advice for whatever it's worth is don't compromise your vision. You may have to settle for some shaky footage from a lower peak right now but don't lose sight of getting that footage from the top.

The beauty of digital filmmaking is when you do finally hit that summit, you can splice it right in! :)

I hope that made sense. I'm kind of off kilter at the moment working on a couple projects to my mind is drifting in and out. :) Course, that's par for the course. :)
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Old September 28th, 2010, 06:55 PM   #3
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Cat,

I agree with kevin!! also, there is no absolute timeline so you work on everything else and when it is right you get back at it!!!


Now Cat, Remember last year for me?? My white gyr falcon was shot by a hunter, totally ruining my efforts!! Then three a short time later I tore off the inner hamstring muscle!!! Basicly that shut down getting any of the early fall footage that is so essential!! I am working on it this fall, and must remind myself I do not have to answer to anyone elses timeline!!!!
What was worse was I was supposed to meet a time frame for December. fortunately the program director was really good about it and said just get it done when you can!!! I am hoping for spring. I go on a ten day shoot October 10th and hope to fill the holes!!! But who knows!!!!


Dale
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Old September 28th, 2010, 08:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Railsback View Post
I think you have a vision in your head and you're determined to try and capture it.

Almost as good is never enough when you're trying to do your vision justice.

The beauty of digital filmmaking is when you do finally hit that summit, you can splice it right in! :)
Hey Kevin:

That just about sums it up. Now about that splicing out and back in... if I could only do that in real life! ;-).

Thanks,

Cat
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Old September 28th, 2010, 08:49 PM   #5
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Hi Dale:

I remember all too well your injury and your falcon episodes. In my mind, I think you still deserve the "hardest earned final film" award!

Thanks for the encouragement! I just am finding it a bit hard to shake off the disappointment, but I'll get that footage some day!

Cat
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Old September 29th, 2010, 09:50 AM   #6
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I think you should consider your hard won Mt. Meeker footage as proof of concept. Some day you will be atop Longs Peak, the weather will be perfect, and the footage will show the true meaning of the word “spectacular”!

Dale- I‘m glad all the difficulties haven’t upset your broadcast deal. I hope the home stretch goes a lot smoother for you!
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