I was pleasantly surprised - when out running with the stroller and our two and half year old son - to bump into a friend in our village here in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland. After a quick catchup in my terrible (but improving) Swiss German, he mentioned they were heading into the mountains for two days and if I would like to join. It sounded like a fun adventure, perhaps just what I needed after a long cycle of work / eat / sleep / repeat.
So we headed up from the Iffigenalp parking area towards the Wildstrubelhütte for our overnight stop.
The Wildstubelhütte is a classic Alpine Swiss Mountain Hut, located high up with spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. You also get a bed to sleep in and warm meals prepared by the seasonal live in team - which makes for a nice change from camping out in the open.
And it is here, during a late afternoon exploratory walk with my camera, that I realised once more that patience can be - and often is - key in landscape photography.
Well, the answer is both literal and philosophical: by choosing a spot to photograph from, you can forego rushing around and merely let the landscape change in front of you.
It is a slight oversimplification, yes, but it is - in my experience - quite often true in the photographic context. As I was crisscrossing the vicinity around the mountain hut looking for good compositions, it occurred to me to just slow down and observe for a while. So I sat down with a beautiful view over the valleys below and mountain peaks in the distance. And only then, once I slowed down, started observing and let the landscape change in front of me, did I start to notice very simple yet astoundingly meaningful compositions.
I started to notice little details, I visualised isolating the play of light and shadow with a longer focal length (which is often a better lens choice to take along in the high mountains versus a wide angle, in my experience).
And just like that, with my senses heightened by this new world - which had been there all along - that opened up in front of me, I enjoyed the process of observing, photographing, and appreciating the experience. And I realised once again that, even though you can have decades of experience in a certain field, you can always learn and relearn things.
But back to the hiking adventure:
After this revelatory late afternoon photographic experience, we had a delicious dinner of rösti (traditional potato dish) with sausage and salad, as well as a bottle of wine, which is one of the great luxuries / advantages of these mountain huts (in my opinion!): you don't have to carry all this with you.
The next morning saw an early start, heading towards the Plaine Morte Glacier for our planned crossing towards the goal of summiting the Gletcherhore mountain peak.
After the initial cold start things warmed up quickly, but fortunately the glacier crossing and the peak summiting went well and we enjoyed spectacular views over the Cantons of Bern and Valais, along with their respective mountains.
As we know:
All good things have to come to an end, unfortunately. So after a quick stop at the Wildstrubelhütte for a coffee on the way back, we headed down the mountain and back home, all the more enriched by the experience.
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