I think it was Thomas Edison who said “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” While I don’t honestly think it takes a genius to make a great photo, 99 times out of a hundred, it has little to do with the photographer, and everything to do with persistence.

And so it has seemed with a photograph that has evaded me for two years: the North Face of Denali.

I’ve camped out at Wonder Lake twice before with that view in mind, and both times, the weather has been terrible. Regardless, I figured I’d give it another shot. Things are a bit slower at work as of late, so I was able to squeak in a real quick three day trip to Wonder Lake in Denali.

I’ve learned my lesson out at Wonder. The place can be a bit boring if you don’t have any way to get around, the hiking somewhat bland (compared to the rest of the park) and the weather is gloomy at best. So this time I packed lots of junk food, a couple books, and a mountain bike to get around faster, to make the quick run up to the reflection pond, just in case the mountain did actually come out.

I arrived to some real crappy weather. Smoke has been filling the valley on and off for the summer, as the wildfires just seem to get bigger and bigger. Then, a huge rainstorm swept the area, and it looked like it would be socked in indefinitely. Figured it might be my third strike.

But finally, Saturday morning, the clouds parted for a whole hour, and I got a peek at the peak. Pretty amazing view from there, no doubt. I furiously made some pictures in the small window of time, and then retreated back to camp as the mountain was swallowed by clouds again, and the rain started to come back through. Spent the rest of the day searching for wildlife on the buses, but had little to no luck.

Sunset brought another clearing of the clouds, and just a small bit of the mountain was visible. I grabbed my bike and made the couple of mile ride into Wonder Lake, just as the mountain disappeared again. Fortunately, the clouds were thin, and by the morning of Sunday, I awoke to one of the most sublimely beautiful scenes I’ve ever encountered. At 4 a.m., there were zero clouds, and venus was orbiting just above the north peak. I heated up some hot chocolate and just enjoyed the view for an hour or so. And then, the real show began.

The sun crested the horizon, and pink and orange hues flooded the skyline. And I finally saw the scene unfold before me that I had seen in so many photographs before. For the first time in quite awhile, I was torn between just laying on my back and watching it all, or actually looking through the viewfinder, and cycling the shutter.

Needless to say, I’m pretty pleased with the photographs, but I’m sure that they do little justice for what that scene really looks like.