Getting the Shot

Dec 17, 2012 View Comments by

Last week I talked about taking the road less traveled and finding the hidden gem of Dos Lagunas, which was in a ranger station in remote northern Guatemala near the border of Mexico. The most common way in is a two-day donkey ride, which the locals would take, or in the dry season you can get a 4×4 or a motorcycle through. I am taking the latter, of course, and am on my way back to civilization after spending a week in the bush off the grid. To date, this road/trail/path is the most extreme (and I hate that word) trail that I have ever been on. Not just because of the mud, fallen trees, hidden rocks, etc., but because there is no back up. The road is only used once every two weeks for the rangers to switch shifts and go back home. As a bonus I am in jaguar country, but I figure that these are so elusive I will never see one. Needless to say, I love this stuff and now that I know I have enough gasoline to make it back to town I can relax a bit and take photos.  (On the way in I was conserving gas by not stopping, I had to be efficient to stretch out my limited fuel.)

Almost every new bend in the “road” is as interesting as the last. You can’t go wrong taking a photo anywhere. I pick a nice bend with crusted mud ruts on each side and start planning the shot. By now, my tripod is long gone. It rattled off earlier in the trip on some fast paced desert road in Mexico. I am using a Nikon DSLR with a Tamron 18-250mm lens. When I bought the body and lens, I didn’t realize that the auto focus wasn’t compatible between the two. So every shot I take has to be manually focused. Not easy to do with a self timed photo while riding a motorcycle in full gear through the jungle with no tripod. I hang the camera body off of tree branch, prop it up, and stabilize it with branches and leaves. I then focus where I think I will be riding through and take a practice photo. Looks good. The longest self-timer is only 30 seconds, so that’s what I have to play with. I hit the button and run back to the bike, hit the starter, and take off. I ride at a creeper speed, so I don’t go too far and miss the frame. Now I stop the bike and check the photo. Of course it’s off. I wasn’t fast enough. Turning the bike around in these tight quarters is exhausting and takes a long time. I do this over and over for about an hour until I get the photo just right. Satisfied and successful, I pack up and continue towards town. Along the way and back on the main(er) road, I see a dark cat cross the road. Dark cat!!! That’s a jaguar!!! It was about 100 yards up the road, and I spotted it as I came around a small bend. Of course I didn’t get a photo, but I saw it with my own eyes, which is a very rare treat. Many people who live in this region will never see one. What a great way to start the day.

Missed Luke’s blog about the Ranger Station last week? Catch up here:
The Road Less Traveled

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About the author

Commercial fisherman to pay the bills. Adventure Rider for the smile on my face. Documenting it all as proof that anyone can live this dream.