When I put the feelers out the night before a sunrise fall mountain biking shoot at Snowbasin Resort it was never my intention to stack the deck like this. In fact I almost felt foolish for wasting so much athletic talent on such a mellow goal.
The plan was a simple one—to be on the summit before sunrise and then work the angles, light, and leaves to showcase over 50 miles of under-used but incredibly entertaining and stunningly beautiful singletrack that the resort and neighboring Forest Service land has hidden away up at the northern end of the Wasatch Front.
It’s easy to forget how fortunate I am at times, but pulling together a roster consisting of mountain bike legend Eric Porter, and skiing rockstars Jen Hudak, Carston Oliver, and KC Deane, I couldn’t help but be in awe of my own friends and just how impressive each of them is in their own right, much less as a group. Seriously, you should google them, they’re amazing.
So, only a few hours after reaching out via texts and phone calls, I found myself leading them off the summit of Snowbasin heading down the Needles Trail racing for the Moonshine ridge to try and catch the sunrise as it first kisses the jagged teeth of Sisters ridgeline behind us. A herd of deer scamper out of sight as I crest the ridge and sprint to get set up, the orange glow is racing from the horizon towards us.
We bang out a few variations on a theme and the magic light is gone. Dropping into perfectly hued groves of Aspen we find a dappled glowing light and buff trail covered in the fallen Aspen leaves. I couldn’t have created a more perfect fall scene had I tried. The combined experience of the group lends itself to easy direction for me as they’ve mastered the art of being at the right place at the right time, in perfect sync with each other, allowing for me to effortlessly capture two, three, and even four athletes in a frame time and time again. As a photographer, it rarely gets better or easier than this. Between the scenery and the talent all I had to do was not screw it up.
Eventually the sun was too high and the with a total lack of clouds to work with we relinquished the documenting of the morning and embraced the pull of gravity enjoying several miles of singletrack back to the parking lot and eventually on down Ogden Canyon to The Oaks for a well deserved refuel of coffee and calories. It was a damn fine fall morning with good friends in a beautiful place, a place I’m lucky enough to call home.
- Nat Geo Expeditions