It all started as a normal engagement session.
I met Julie and Don in the early afternoon at the Meadowlark coffee shop. We fueled up with caffeine and then embarked on a photographic journey on a nearly perfect October day. The sky was clear, but the early fall day kept the sun from being directly overheard and harsh.
The first stop of the day was Nine Mile Prairie, a 230 acre tallgrass conservatory. Julie had suggested this as a possible location and since I had never photographed a session out there before, I was game. We wandered around for awhile, but due to the lateness of the season, we were having trouble finding really pretty, green locations. Undeterred, we grabbed a few shots while discussing the ferocity of wild badgers.*
Having safely escaped the prairie, we decided to venture far south to Wilderness Park in hopes of better scenery. We made a brief, but uneventful stop for a few more photos at a small lake in Air Park along the way.
It was in Wilderness Park where, as they say, the story turns.
The three of us vanished into the trail system with nary a worry of the fate that awaited us. We got a few more shots right away and then decided to venture farther in. If this were a movie, this is where the ominous music would begin to play and the audience would be shifting in their seats as they tried to figure out which of us would be picked off first.
Our plan seemed simple enough. There’s a big, cool bridge deeper in the park and our thought was to get some photos on it. The problem with this plan was a hitch that we were, at the time, oblivious to: The bridge is closed.
In fairness, we discovered later that there was a sign posted. The sign just didn’t happen to be posted on the trail we elected to take.
The thing about Wilderness Park is that, well, it’s kind of wilderness-like. Trails crisscross every which way and some of them merely loop around. I won’t come right out and say that the people who mapped out those trails were drunk at the time, but I think that possibility should be considered. If you’re just out for an afternoon of hiking, this is no big deal. If you’re lugging around 20 pounds of camera gear and you’re on a bit of a tight schedule for shooting photos, this is slightly more of a concern.
Upon finally reaching the bridge and finding giant chain link gates blocking it off, we decided to cut our losses and take a short cut back to the bike trail. Unfortunately, thanks to the previously mentioned crisscrossing and winding trails, there is no such thing as a “short cut” unless you have the ability to fly.
The trail we were on, if stretched to a straight line, seems like it would have taken us 3/4 of the way to Canada. Not wanting to risk actually winding up in Canada, we decided to forge our own path. After all, we knew where the bike trail was supposed to be.
In the end, we bushwhacked a path that makes me glad we weren’t on an episode of Mantracker, because he would have had no trouble following it even if you blindfolded him, tied both hands behind his back, and smashed him over the head with a 2×4. However, our efforts paid off and within about 5 minutes we were back on the bike trail.
Finally back at my truck and surprisingly hot and tired for a 62 degree day, we decided to go downtown, where sensible people go for photography.
All I can say is, if their wedding day is as weird and fun as the engagement session, we’re going to have a blast taking photos.
*I should note that, to my knowledge, there have never been ferocious wild badgers in Nine Mile Prairie. However, we did find a location that, were I a ferocious wild badger, I’d probably hang out and wait for unsuspecting photographers.