What a difference a year makes

Last year, Lake Champlain was dealing with historic flooding. This year, I’ve started to hear references to record low lake levels. Since I now commute along the waterfront, I’ve been witness to the lack of water. Take the photograph below. It was taken yesterday, April 25th, 2012.

One year ago, the same lighthouse looked like this.

When I compare the two images, I think the lighthouse was actually damaged enough that they had to remove some of the lower boards.

According to this chart, the lake level should be around 99′ at this time of year. Instead, we’re at about 96.5′ — more like what I would expect in June. And that’s after a pretty rainy couple of days. We were at 96.0′ on April 21st. According to the USGS, the lake level changes by about 5′ annually. If we’re at the annual high point now, what does that mean for the rest of the summer? Will September or October 2012 bring us new record lows, only 18 months after record highs?

On a somewhat related note, there’s still a lot of effort going in to repairing our broken state after last year’s flooding. There are lots of people in VT that still need homes rebuilt and businesses that are still recovering.  One of the things that’s near and dear to my heart is the Burlington Bike Path. OK, it’s somewhat selfish, it’s part of my daily commute — but it’s also a big draw for tourism. Many events like those put on by Run Vermont and Race Vermont rely on the Bike Path for their routes. It’s in rough shape right now as a result of all the flooding last year. Parts have been patched, and repairs on other sections have begun, but there’s a long way to go.  Local Motion has put together a fund to help repair the Island Line Trail. If you use this path and have a few dollars to spare, I’m sure they would appreciate any contribution.

If the Bike Path isn’t your thing, maybe consider the VT Irene Flood Relief Fund or VT Farm Disaster Relief Fund.

Stowe Derby 2012

You can find all photographs from the Stowe Derby right here. You can even search by bib number to order a print of yourself (or a friend!) Thanks for supporting your local photographers!

Our Stowe Derby day starts by swinging by registration to check in, pick up a lift ticket, and coordinate any last minute details. The early bib pickup system has made this process a lot easier; it used to be that there was a long line of people waiting to pick up their race packets, but now it’s a calm trickle of people.

From there, Tawny and I head to find scout a location with a view of the mountains. With the re-routed course this year, we took a few extra minutes to find a new spot.  Once that’s settled upon, I rush back to the start of the short course to grab a few quick shots of the chaos that is a mass start.

While the racers are making their way back towards Tawny,

I head up to Stowe Mountain Resort to get set for the Freestyle start. The first skiers come through fast and gracefully.

It’s funny photographing on the Toll Road. I like to shoot around the first corner to get some interaction between racers (and, I’m not gonna lie, to get some great crashes.) The thing is, it’s a blind corner so I do a lot of listening to know when to shoot. Generally, the first sound you hear is skis snowplowing down the first pitch before the corner. Next, the less experienced racers will often let out a little (or sometimes big!) scream as they realize they have to turn more than 90 degrees and have no edges. From there many will fall, but nearly everyone gets up laughing.

Scrape, Scream, Fall, Laugh – the pattern continues for quite some time!

 

This year there were definitely some powder hounds who had to get fresh tracks where they could.

I’m not sure what it was this year, but skiers took this corner wide and a number of people came close to the wall.

 

A few even hit it!

 

Racers then continue through the bulk of the course before reaching Tawny’s spot with views of a freshly snow-covered Spruce mountain with blue skies. Hard to beat that!

 

So about two hours later it all begins again with the start of the Classical race. A little further down on the course this time, a crowd has gathered to watch the carnage.

 

This guy makes it look too easy.

When the last racers have come through, I pack up my gear and head to the finish. Tawny captures everyone in the field with the mountains or Smuggler’s Notch in the background and I get to watch racers smile as they realize they’re within a few hundred yards of the finish.

Nice work everyone! I look forward to doing it all again next year! (When, hopefully, I’ll remember the sunblock.)

 

You can find all photographs from the Stowe Derby right here. You can even search by bib number to order a print of yourself (or a friend.) Thanks for supporting your local photographers!

 

A photographer in Burlington, Vermont