The Dolly Sods is a large wilderness area that is over 17 thousand acres with 47 miles of hiking trails. It’s a rugged place being a high altitude plateau, it’s constantly being assaulted by the weather, especially the wind. That’s what makes this place as rugged and breathtakingly beautiful.
Skipping the Fall crowds, we visited in November for a nice getaway. I was keeping my eye on the weather and did lots of research before heading there. Waking up at early o’clock, I was nervous for some reason. I didn’t know what to expect and even with all the things I read I couldn’t get a feel of what I was going to be walking into way before the sun was up. Maybe it was the fact that this landscape was used for artillery practice during WW II, there are warning all over and at every trailhead to keep to the trails to avoid un-exploded ordinances, that’s what they call the bombs, grenades, and other leftovers. Although the area was extensively combed and cleaned up back in the 1990’s, anything might be left over. I think that’s what got in my head.
I awoke to extremely thick fog and couldn’t wait to get up the mountain. Base camp, or should I say cabin was 50 minutes away. The higher I got, the thicker the fog was. It was beautiful and eerie in a way, still pitch black out with these thick patches of fog blowing in the wind made the last 11 miles of the trek strange.
My destination was Bear Rocks Preserve, I think just about every photographer is familiar with Bear Rocks, it’s a popular photography place and even more so in the Fall and Spring. Bear Rocks is right next to the Dolly Sods, it’s actually owned by The Nature Conservancy. Large sandstone rocks that have been wind swept to create a bowl shape in the top sit across open land of heath barrens and meadow. My breath was taken away with how beautiful this place was. I can see why people flock here. The fog was so thick the distant mountains couldn’t be seen. I could barely seen the lightly treaded paths that make there way through the blueberry and huckleberry bushes and the wind blew fiercely.
As rugged as this place is, it’s a dream. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this place. It’s by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever had the honor of photographing.