Success rarely happens without tremendous tenacity. Sometimes when people say, “gosh you’re so talented” after watching a film or seeing a photograph I’ve done, it feels a little like an insult. It’s flattering of course and more often than not it’s stated as a well intended compliment but sometimes it feels like a kind of copout as if they’re saying, “well some people are just ‘born’ with it”, as if producing good works just comes naturally with no effort. It steals the blood, sweat and tears and years of work to figure this whole art photography thing out. Okay maybe there’s some talent involved… like 1% talent, 99% sheer willpower!
This photo is an excellent example of the sheer willpower I’m talking about. I probably drove out to this rugged spot in the Rover more than ten times hoping to find just the right conditions. Most people probably would have given up after 5 or 6 attempts, but I saw this thing in my head and just kept trying.
Talent didn’t allow me this work, sheer tenacity did. I erected this work in my imagination and it just wouldn’t go away! Okay, call that talent if you want but I call it some kind of psychosomatic disorder!
The town of Jackson, Montana is located in the Big Hole, two to three hours from Missoula depending on weather. Folks in the old days often called valleys, “holes.” This one being particularly expansive was justifiably called the Big Hole. It’s quiet ranch country with, statistically, less than half a person per square mile. Mountain run-off from the Pioneer range on the eastern side seeps through cracks in the earth to be heated at a depth of 3 to 4 kilometers and then makes the return trip to the surface, exiting around 140˚F or 60˚C. After it runs downstream a ways, it cools to reasonable soaking temperatures.
The Native Americans have been visiting the springs for millennia. It’s one of Montana’s several thermal spots that can provide a bit of warmth in a bitterly cold, vast winter landscape. Captain William Clark, of the Voyage of Discovery crew, after separating with Meriwether Lewis in the Bitterroot Valley, came thru the Big Hole and noted in his journal, “… a boiling spring….” The date was July 7, 1806. They cooked meat on a stick in the water to see how long it would take, because their thermometer was broken.
If you say, “Welcome to Jackson, Montana” and “Thank you for visiting Jackson, Montana” in succession while driving into town you will likely have already passed through by the time you finish. The attraction is the Jackson Hot Springs Lodge which has a fine restaurant, a top shelf bar, a massive stone hearth containing what could be described as, “a white man’s” fire. On cold days when the outdoor temperature can dip well into the negative numbers, icy-haired people bob around the large pool filled with 104˚F (39˚C) mineral water. Under new ownership, Jackson Hot Springs now can boast clean rooms and linens, working electricity, and friendly staff… something the previous owners didn’t find necessary in the hospitality business. While the lodge retains its rustic roots, it does now have wireless internet. And with the addition of the cell tower last year you can now use your cellular device. The Big Hole feels just a little bit smaller now.
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Montana State Guide Chris Chapman was born and raised in the fields of Indiana, spent time in Michigan, California, Washington and Maryland, but has called Montana home since the days before it had speed limits or open container laws. Now married with two young kids, he documents family friendly adventures: canoeing, fly fishing, hunting, hiking and camping, throughout the state. Chris’ Tumblr home is j-appleseed.tumblr.com. His other web home is ChrisChapmanPhotography.net.