Late Afternoon Light from Baxter Mountain

Late Afternoon Light from Baxter Mountain

Peak fall foliage in the Adirondacks as viewed from the summit of Baxter Mountain with beautiful late afternoon light bathing the landscape

Although I experienced wonderful weather during the portion of my trip in the Adirondacks, there was a downside to the beauty. While the trees and the fall color season had benefited from a prolonged dry spell with relatively moderate temperatures, the corresponding lack of rain had caused the streams to virtually dry up. Unfortunately for me, I had planned on shooting quite a bit in the streams of the Adirondacks with beautiful fall foliage in the scene or in the reflections in the water.

In addition, the cold clear mornings allowed for fog to settle in the valleys. Between the dried up streams and the inability to see more than a few hundred feet on some mornings, about half of my potential shooting locations were now a bust. As is always the case when conditions aren’t what I plan them to be, the mantra becomes “Adapt!”. So, I found myself trudging up and down a few more mountain summits than I had planned. It was simply the best way to capture the beauty of the Adirondacks given the conditions.

Baxter Mountain was one of those mountain summits I hiked in order to capture this image. But first of all, I had to find the trailhead. After reading through the directions a few times and driving past the trailhead at least twice, I finally found the wide spot just off the pavement to park my car. Even though I lightened my load as much as possible, it was still a bit of a struggle at times to reach the summit. Mercifully, the trail designer had created a series of switchbacks to gain elevation up the side of the mountain rather than a direct frontal assault. It may have taken longer, but I arrived at the top of Baxter Mountain in one piece and with a bit of energy in reserve.

I took awhile just to soak in the landscape below me. It was a relatively warm afternoon and a light breeze made for very pleasant conditions. I was prepared to stay at the summit through sunset but the cloudy skies were not encouraging in that respect. I feared that I would invest another two or three hours on the summit and walk away disappointed in my results. As I waited, though, the lighting just got better and better. As the sun sank lower on the horizon the fall colors became more vibrant and the harsh shadows faded away. Even the way the sunlight was filtering through the clouds and across the mountains became more and more pleasing to my eye.

I shot a series of images but this one works the best for me. There’s a bit of leaf movement visible due to the wind blowing during relatively long exposures. It’s not too distracting to me though. Overall I feel that this image captures the atmosphere atop Baxter Mountain that lovely fall afternoon. If you can’t hike up there yourself I hope this will be some form of substitute. Enjoy.


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