It is the 1st of June and the very beginning of my mission for Wild Wonders. After two days of travelling, from the heat of Central Italy to the green foothills of the Tatra range, here I am, finally walking through the Kouprova valley into the wilderness of Ticha in the Western Tatras.
I am there together with my two good friends Erik Baláz and Robert Rajchl, with whom I’ve been working in the area already for the past three years. Our aim is to reach a high mountain ridge, from where we can watch the surrounding slopes in the hope to spot bears feeding on the new spring grass. As we walk, the mountain peaks are hidden by a grey blanket of low clouds and a cold northern wind blows almost without break. Still, my backpack full of food, clothes and, of course, much photo equipment makes me sweat and breath fast. After a painful climb through an old spruce forest, we reach the upper treeline and enter the dwarf pine zone. The flexible branches of the plants are wet of moisture and bounce back with unpleasant icy showers as we move through them – we are soaked. At this point the clouds are all around us; the visibility reduced to about ten metres. Now and then, the wind carries some small snow flakes with; on the ground are about ten centimetres of snow and nowhere in sight the usual grass patches of June: not really a promising beginning for a photographic trip!
As we reach our lookout point, it is almost night. I wear my warmest clothes and look humbly at the barren sourroundings. After nibbling a chocolate bar, I begin to play around with my camera trying some abstracts.
Then, something happens. The magic, which, always unexpected, makes my experiences in the mountains so special and worth all the difficulties… The cloud layer slowly gets thinner and gold with the last sunrays. The high peaks appear from the fog and a ray of light hits me, casting my shadow far away on the slope of the facing mountain, making it gigantic and surrounded by a fabulous ring of glory. The sky is deep blue and the clouds pink. I shoot in ecstasy; grateful and almost in tears.
But it is just a moment and this rare optical phaenomenon suddenly disappears.
Now, the clouds are luckily going away. I have still the time to photograph the valley with a bluish fog and the summit of Mount Krivan (national symbol of Slovakia) in the last light, before it gets all clear. I am too excited to go to sleep now, and when the darkness comes I am still on the ridge trying to photograph stars with long exposure. The night is chilly, well below 0°C. I crawl into my sleeping bag, tired and already dreaming of the bears to come…
Bruno D’Amicis / Wild Wonders of Europe
Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.