Despite (another) less than favorable sunrise forecast, I made my way back to Wheeler Pond–a spot I’d visited twice the previous day–for daybreak. The color had been so good, I felt it would be worthwhile to revisit the spot on this morning. It was cloudy, as predicted, when the sun rose high enough to produce enough ambient light to tell, so I started off with some long lens shots.
After a few minutes, a hint of color began to appear in the clouds. It wasn’t anything incredible by any means, but it gave me an excuse to break out the wide angle for an entirely different perspective of the pond.
The sense that the skies might be clearing was extinguished in fairly short order, as a fifth consecutive day of overcast skies appeared to be a reality. I made the rounds of some of the spots in the immediate area–this part of Orleans County–that I had scouted but hadn’t yet photographed, beginning with a return to Long Pond. Conditions–as you can see from the reflections above–had been essentially windless at Wheeler Pond, and I hoped that would be the case at Long Pond as well.
Unfortunately, as I discovered within minutes, Long Pond was entirely rippled by a fairly stiff breeze when I arrived. I limited myself to some telephoto shots of the trees surrounding the lake before moving on.
My next stop was a wetland I’d passed several times on the way to or from Lake Willoughby. There wasn’t much color in this spot but I was sufficiently intrigued by the long grasses and reflections to render an image in black and white.
Finally, I simply had to stop to photograph a shockingly red maple, situated all by itself (color-wise) along the roadside. I’d passed this tree at least three times over the past few days and so on this occasion I pulled over on the shoulder and made an image or two.
My route was going to take me to Lyndonville so I decided to spend some time back on Darling Hill Road, from which I’d photographed sunset on Day 6. I’d only had time to explore part of the road, so I took this opportunity to revisit the areas I’d scouted previously and check out some other spots as well.
From this point, I decided to investigate some new locations, so I headed south and west, in the general direction of the previous day’s excursion to Groton State Forest. But my destination this time was a bit different. The two spots I definitely wanted to check out before the end of the day were Nichols Ledge and the village of Peacham. So I headed in that general direction. But before trying to find Nichols Ledge, I wanted to have a look at some covered bridges, the first near the tiny town of Lyndon. This was the Chamberlin Mill Covered Bridge, at the site of the former (you guessed it) Chamberlin Mill…which no longer exists. A small part of the foundation can still be seen, but that’s all that remains. But the bridge is still in place, and very much in use by modern day traffic.
From the bridge I could see a series of cascades below me, so I climbed down the embankment next to the bridge to see if I could find a pleasing composition. Options were limited and I settled for what you see below.
From here I continued west to check the Foster Covered Bridge. This location really intrigued me. I knew that the bridge was now located on private property but was accessible to the public. I also knew that the bridge was no longer “in service” and in fact simply spanned a creek, more or less in the middle of a field. Indeed, that’s what I found. A sign was in place stating, that while visitors were welcome to approach the bridge, they were asked, very clearly not to stand on or cross the bridge itself. As you might imagine, a few people–including a family of four when I was there–plainly ignored the sign and climbed all over the bridge. I kept my distance and didn’t feel deprived at all.
From one spot near the bridge, there was an impressive view to the south.
It was becoming apparent that there were signs of some clearing to the west, so at this stage–it was mid-afternoon by now–I decided to make my way to Nichols Ledge. The ledge, which is an open overlook providing a view of Nichols Pond and East Long Pond, as well as the thick forest surrounding both bodies of water, requires a fairly short, straight forward but steep hike of about a mile on a marked trail straight up a thickly wooded hillside. The area had been closed for months due to the presence of some nesting peregrine falcons but had been re-opened to public access a few weeks earlier.
The hike was no problem and in about ten minutes I found myself on an open rocky shelf. Seven or eight other people were up there already, but none were hanging out near the shelf’s edge, so I made my way there, jumped down to the lower part of the rock ledge and took in the view. I waited at least five minutes before pulling out my camera.
Somewhat to my surprise, given what I’d seen elsewhere, the color in the area was still probably a few days shy of peak, but the view was magnificent nonetheless.
Despite being perched hundreds of feet above the pond, I could see, on occasion, a pair of loons in the water. And before I left, I caught a glimpse of a falcon, arching through the sky. Eventually, I turned my gaze to the south, away from the ponds, to take in that part of the 180-degree view.
The sun was peeking out now, with regularity. I headed back down the trail and decided to make my way, in the now-late afternoon light, toward Peacham. On the way, I stopped very briefly to photograph Cabot Common.
Peacham is a tiny Vermont village, a real throwback to yesteryear, and is the site of one of the few truly iconic scenes that I expected to come across on this trip–the view of the village from a hilly open field behind the fire department building. I had absolutely no intention of photographing this scene myself…until I saw it with my own eyes, in the warmth of the late afternoon sunshine. I then understood why so many people are drawn to photograph the scene and, rather than fight the urge, I simply succumbed. A photo workshop was already on site when I arrived, but they were packing up and leaving so I ended up having the place, and the scene to myself.
By pure chance–as I said, I hadn’t intended to make this image–I arrived just in time. Much sooner and the light wouldn’t have been so flattering to the scene; any later and the shadows, cast by the trees on the hillside behind me, would have covered the scene completely.
When I finished on the hillside, I slogged my way back to where I had parked and then, remembering something I’d read in Andy Richards’ Vermont photo guide, walked across the street from the fire station into Peacham’s cemetery. While the cemetery itself would be awfully interesting to photograph in the right light, I walked through–it’s surprisingly large–to the back where there are some wonderful views to the south.
Sunset was approaching and I really didn’t have a location planned out, so I decided to drive north, in the general direction of US-2 (which would be my route back to St. Johnsbury) and see if I ran across something of interest. This isn’t my preferred course of action, but I wasn’t sure what else to do since I hadn’t really had the opportunity to scout the area. I was not entirely successful…but it wasn’t exactly an epic sunset sky anyway.
I made my way back to US-2 and headed east, figuring that the day’s shooting was over. But when I reached the overlook from which I had photographed the previous day, I had to stop. The earthshadow effect from this location, now long after sunset, was simply too much to pass up. It was quite dark at this point but there wasn’t a breath of wind so I opened up to a 15-second exposure and let it go.
And that was the last image of the evening. At some point the following day I was to relocate my base of operations to North Conway, New Hampshire. As you’ll see, that relocation took place very late on Day 11.