Monday, 28 April 2014
An Autumn Walk up Merrick - Morag Paterson
I’d been asked by a client to take a photo from the top of the Merrick and having waited for an ideal forecast for some time I decided to lump it and go up in marginal weather with the hope of some decent visibility between showers.
Knowing I was likely to get wet I’d packed as much gear as I could carry, stuffing my f-stop pack full and fixing the big tripod with panoramic levelling head on the back (weighing in at about 15kg going up a hill with this baggage gives you a decent workout) and headed on up from the car park overlooking Loch Trool.
The first part of the walk up Merrick is easy going, if a little rough in places, following a lovely burn before turning up into the trees. After coming through the darkness of the coniferous trees and out onto the ridge I realised my dreams of staying dry were not going to manifest. Stinging rain and wind came in from the coast and I had to stop in my tracks to don all my waterproof kit. It seemed worthwhile to push on though and at the top as I was indeed rewarded with a decent vista, with just the right level of drama from the sky. Knowing I had to work quickly I began a rapid assembly of my gear, only to find that one of my tripod legs had obviously fallen out on the way up.
This was exasperating; especially as this was the hill I’d done a double ascent of a couple of years previously, the first time for a photo and the second to retrieve my favourite jacket, which I’d managed to leave at the top. Not only did I not fancy doubling back to look for the leg – which could have been anywhere – I also knew I was unlikely to get the shot if I delayed further.
Bizarrely, just as I was wondering if I could get a decent panoramic while hand holding the camera, a couple arrived at the summit, the man carrying a walking stick that was the exact dimensions – I kid you not – of my missing tripod leg. Without any hesitation I asked if he would mind me borrowing it and after a moments consideration he acquiesced.
The stick slotted into the hole perfectly and I got my shot, and I thanked fate for smiling on me.
Coincidentally, I had a box of pear cider in my van (a thank you for another photographer that I hadn’t managed to catch up with) and I was able to leave it as a thank you by their car when I got back to the car park.
Another lesson learned, always check your kit before setting out (and check it again before packing up from wherever you end up shooting).
Amazingly, I found the tripod leg on the way back down, just a few hundred yards from the car.
Leeming & Paterson Photography