In the summer of 2002 photographer Heidi Vetter realized her dream of exploring the Sierra Nevada mountains. With a sixty pound pack, large-format camera and film, she embarked alone on an extended backpacking trip lasting nearly three months. After a year of preparations; planning meals, physical conditioning, first-aid classes and pouring over topographical maps, she began her journey from Fish Camp with a mule, a large supply of Clif bars, and an overwhelming desire to capture the spirit of the wilderness on film.
She set out along the Old French Trail to Mammoth Lakes, then made seven loops, working her way south as far as Kearsarge Pass. Her husband Ray met her at seven to ten day intervals to replenish her supplies, and bring her clean clothes. Traveling up to five miles a day, she camped at prime photography sites, shooting around sunset and getting up for the sunrise to photograph again, with the beautiful basins above 10,000 feet being her favorite places. While traveling the John Muir trail, she usually met other hikers, but off the trail other travelers were rare, and she had the wilderness largely to herself.
Physical fitness was a serious issue in planning the trip. After losing twenty pounds in anticipation of the hike, she lost another thirty on the trail. After nearly ninety days of sun, healthy diet, and constant exercise, her friends will attest that she looks great after her sojourn which, she states, she would not hesitate to do again.
Now back in the security of her darkroom, Vetter demonstrates a different form of determination and stamina, working countless hours developing and printing the images captured on the trail. Using traditional color printing processes she has perfected over many years as a working photographer, she strives to distill the essence of her experience into emotive images that she hopes will capture the grandeur and beauty of the Sierra Nevada and will allow her to share her journey and her personal vision with others.