From the ground it’s been hard to get the really good fall color shots because they usually require some distance perspective to capture their true magnificence. Often the best vignettes appear to be alongside multi-lane highways where it’s impossible to pull over but that’s often where it’s possible to get longer vistas. The horizon in Wisconsin is never very far away! Thus, I was very happy on Tuesday to be headed to Wausau to visit Sam’s Club knowing that there is a mountainside state park there which I was hoping would afford views. The nightly news broadcast from Wausau has shown a carpet of colors from their web cam and I was hoping to find that spot.
I needn’t had worried as my car made the short climb up Rib Mountain as I passed joggers and walkers on the wide paved pathway ascending ever upward. I must say, coming from the west where we think nothing of going up and down mountains and hills on a daily basis, to be climbing one for the first time in over a year and feeling my ears pop was a little novel! I later come to find out that that this is one of the highest points in the state at 1940 feet.
As an out-of-stater still, my tariff is $5 for an hour’s time but as I step from the car with the camera slung around my neck and find it around 45 degrees with a bitter wind chill (and I’m only in a sweater) I think that’s probably sufficient. As it turns out my good camera batteries die at this first stop and I am forced to use the pocket Nikon backup for over half the shots. I’ve been working on rechargeable batteries which are only holding a meager charge, so my fault for not buying new batteries before paying to get in.
As I approach the first overlook it literally takes my breath away. Stretched before me, indeed like some Boho crazy quilt, is a color explosion and the entire town of Wausau and surrounding area. I am mesmerized at how the ordinary fall is totally transformed when seen from above. Lucky for me, although the day isn’t ideal weather-wise, I am probably hitting it just about at peak and definitely just before a big set of storms is due which will likely strip many of the trees of their glory.
Being the only mountain around it stands to reason that Rib Mountain is the large ski area for central Wisconsin and the trails and ski lifts are scattered around the entire perimeter’s edge. At first I feel as though they detract from my shots but then I decide they add interest that normally wouldn’t be present in fall photos.
I ramble around oohing and awing not knowing where to point my camera next. There are only a few people I have to share the mountaintop with and mostly, in fact, I am alone. Although the park is riddled with hiking trails it appears as though all the joggers and walkers must turn around at the gates to be exempt from the fee. I wish that I was warmer and had more time...I’d love to explore the trails but today I stick to the road.