Images of Scotland are everywhere, and so they should be. It is a beautiful country with spectacular scenery around every corner and, having lived there, it's a place I would be happy to live again. I fell in love with the Cairngorms National Park in 2010 when I found the bug for hiking the Munro's (Munro's are mountains in Scotland that exceed 3000 feet/914.4 metres). The name comes from Sir Hugo Munro who documented the first list of these mountains in 1891, the list has been revised over time with more accurate measurement and currently stands at 282 such mountains.
Following publication of the book people began 'peak bagging' for the first time. They wanted to reach the summit of every mountain on the list, a tradition that continues to this day. Some people just want to climb them all, some want to do it in one year, some want to do them all in the dark, or in the specific order they are listed in the book, in reverse order, in height order or reverse height order. There seems to be no end to the imagination of those seeking an excuse to return to Scotland and escape to the mountains.
Other lists now exist, Corbetts for example are separate mountains over 2500 feet (762 metres) they must have a drop of at least 500 feet (152.4 metres) between them. There are Donalds and Grahams, and over the border in England and Wales, the Wainwrights and Hewits.
As I said earlier, I think all of these lists are just good excuses to get out in the hills, and for some it helps with the motivation to do so. For me motivation was never an issue, from my home in Banchory I could be in the Cairngorms National Park in 30 minutes and I took advantage of that fact several times per week.
This springtime image was made as I climbed to the summit of Broad Cairn which forms part of a circuit taking in 5 Munros in a day. To the left is Loch Muick and to the right is the terminal end of Glen Clova. It was a stunning spring day and the beauty spread across the wide horizon kept me mesmerised as I hiked.
The flat bottomed cumulus clouds maintain separation of earth and sky and the dusting of snow brings light to the dark heather still in its winter form, the deep scars of the glens make a perfect middle ground and a splash of yellow in the grass topped peat brings the foreground to life. I suddenly find myself yearning for another slice of Scotland.
The Silver Island Mountains may be the most appropriately named range in North America. Located just north of Bonneville Salt Flats in the North West of Utah, they are a spectacular sight. During my most recent visit the water on the flats was perfectly calm providing a wonderful reflection. In the far distance a thin skim of ice remained across the water surface causing a nice break to separate the range and it's reflection.
In the foreground, the salt shapes twist beneath the shallow water partly hidden by the reflected clouds. The clouds themselves braid above and below the eight named peaks of the range, framing the dark surfaces in a sea of melt water blue.
A morning at Bonneville Salt Flats is a tonic for the soul. If you take exit 4 from I-80 and follow the Bonneville Speedway Road to it's end you will likely have the place to yourself. Try to make it in springtime or immediately following heavy rain or snow, to ensure you find that stunning reflecting pool stretched across the wide expanse.
The panorama below was made using seven images from my Canon EOS 5D IV and 70 - 200 mm f2.8 lens. You can click the image for a larger version.
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