By Sarah Mowry
Yesterday the stars finally aligned with schedules, weather, and other priorities to allow me to take a Land Trust volunteer out to Rimrock Ranch. Byron Dudley is one of the Land Trust's dedicated volunteer photographers. Ever since we finalized the easement at Rimrock, Byron and I had been talking about visiting the ranch to take some photographs.
Byron had never been to Rimrock and I must say that introducing folks to Rimrock Ranch is one of my favorite things to do. There is almost nothing as awe inspiring as your first visit to the ranch. You drive through the impressive ranch gate and then slowly wind your way up to the rim of the canyon that holds Whychus Creek. Along the way you are treated to mountain views, vast protected wild lands, and the occasional very large cow! But your jaw really drops once you get out of the car and begin the walk down into the canyon. The view of Whychus Creek and open fields is awesome.
We decided to walk the fields along the creek so Byron could catch the fall colors of the cottonwoods, alder, and willows. I realized as we walked, that each time I visit a Land Trust property with a volunteer a I learn a different way of walking. With the birders you move slowly scanning the trees, shrubs and skies for movement. With the botanists your attention is often focused towards the ground, looking for wildflowers or mushrooms. With photographers, like Bryon, you walk and look for frames or scenes. Sometimes its landscape level and sometimes it's just the way a leaf has fallen on the ground. (Or at least that is how the non-photographer hiking along sees it!)
As we walked at a steady pace all of the sudden Byron would stop, take in the scene, check it through the lens of his camera, and then backtrack and try again. Sometimes I would see the picture he was imagining and sometimes I couldn't. Regardless, I had faith that whatever Byron was doing would turn out magical. His eye for capturing the beauty of natural world is impeccable.
The best part of walking with birders, botanists or photographers is that by the end of the walk, I always begin to see things I normally would not see. Like the way the fading green grass brushes against base of a orange ponderosa pine. Or the way the golden aspens leaves swirl into a circle caught in an eddy on the creek. Yesterday was a day for trying to see the land with an artists eye. Thanks Byron!