Slept in sweet silence that only the wilderness can provide and woke feeling refreshed. Awoke to find I’d camped in a spot with a sweeping view of the Tetons on one side and forested mountains on the other. It was windy and much colder out than I’ve experienced in weeks (months?), so I put on my warm weather clothes and ran up a nearby hill to make some photos of the stunning scenery. After breakfast and coffee, I decided I needed to drive to the top of the hill to see what Jeremy was talking about. The van demanded I drive at a snail-like pace due to the ruts and boulders and potholes that crowded the road, but I was rewarded with a most spectacular view. Spent a good, long time soaking it in, making some photos, and just enjoying the silence.
I slowly ambled back down the mountain and into town in search of a place to get online and some chow. Midday Friday in Jackson is a clusterfuck of tourists, filling sidewalks and jamming roads with massive RVs and utility vehicles. Downtown is a mass of tourist shops hocking old west curios and souvenirs, expensive jewelry and jewel encrusted clothing with a smattering of shops catering to the many outdoor activities this area has to offer. The cafes in town were jam-packed so I let go of the idea of getting online and went in search of a good burger
I went back to the van to edit some photos and take a nap, then drove the 45 minutes to Heart Six Ranch where the Fire In The Mountains festival was to be held. Massive rainstorms dumped on the surrounding mountains and scattered showers across the valley and I couldn’t help but wonder how this rain was going to affect things on the ranch.
The rain cleared as the afternoon turned to evening, and the sunset was spectacular. The weekend kickoff was an acoustic performance by Austin Lunn, the founder of the black metal band Panopticon. He’s a humble and amicable guy, and he laughed and joked with attendees as they circled up around a campfire to listen to him play some country classics and original folk songs. It warmed my heart to see all the metalheads sitting quietly and thoroughly enjoying the intimate performance
As the sun went down, I retreated to the van for some dinner and more photo editing, enjoying the comfy warmth as the air cooled rapidly outside. I even had to break out my propane heater for a bit, which I haven’t had to do since early April. I hoped to be able to take some long-exposure nighttime shots, but the moon is almost full and rose so bright it almost looked like daytime. Fun to do anyway.
Woke to find it rained heavily last night, and the steep driveway leading into the festival grounds was a slick of mud, not allowing anyone to get up or down without a heavy duty 4wd vehicle. Made me worry about more rain and potentially getting stuck here. Eventually I clomped my way over to the campgrounds to take some photos and saw some sadly soggy people and tents. But at least the morning was magnificent and sunny, even though it was still pretty cold out.
Things started a little late, and the show opener was my old friend and former Epidemic bandmate, Erik Moggridge, who performs as Aerial Ruin. It’s mournful acoustic music, with layered vocals that bring to mind monastic chanting and mideval hymns. With the Tetons in the background and a cool breeze blowing over the assembled audience, it was quite a beautiful moment. I wandered back and forth from the van to the stage throughout the day, feeling grateful I had homebase so close by. I wish I’d had a pedometer running today, because I probably walked a dozen miles between the ranch (where I had a little cell reception), the stage and the van.
The evening culminated with my longtime favorites Wovenhand, playing just as the sun dipped behind the western hills David Eugene Edwards is mesmerizing to watch, and his performances are never, ever faked. As it got dark, the cold settled in and I retreated to the van, the heater, and a good book.
Woke to a grey, quiet morning feeling pretty burnt out and not that excited about spending another day watching bands I’m not terribly excited about. After breakfast I took a walk up to the lodge to get some cell service and check texts/emails, then back to the van to edit photos from yesterday.
Got to spend some time hanging out with Erik and catching up some, then the Black Metal resumed. There was actually a country-metal band who were interesting, but that was about it. I feel kinda bad I’m not a bigger fan of this particular brand of metal, but oh well.
Just before the last band started I had a guy come up to me and ask me if I was Bobby. When I responded I was indeed Bobby, he replied that he’s inspired by the photography work I do and he has to try hard to not copy my style. It was an incredibly wonderful thing to hear, to know that other photographers appreciate what I do and find inspiration in it. Panopticon was the last band, and the audience was pumped to see them. The sun finally went down behind the mountain and the mosquitoes came out in full force, but didn’t last for long because it soon got pretty damn cold. Just as the band started their last song, a bonfire was lit in the middle of the field and people swarmed around quickly, warming themselves and soaking up the undeniable pagan vibe. Pretty spectacular. I decided it was a good time to wrap up the evening and headed back to the van for some food before snuggling up into bed.