Nebraskaland March 2019

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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36 Nebraskaland • March 2019 East Ash Road Story and Photos by Erik Johnson he fi rst time I laid eyes on this corkscrew turn nestled in the Pine Ridge of the Panhandle, I couldn't help but question if I had stepped outside the borders of Nebraska. Such a far cry from the familiar geography of the Plains, the Pine Ridge is an area that has continually captivated me and keeps me coming back to discover more. As the seasons pass, the rugged buttes take on drastically diff erent appearances and personalities. During the last year and a half I've embarked on a project to capture these changes, as seen from one specifi c vantage: a scenic overlook off East Ash Road between the towns of Crawford and Chadron. I fi rst photographed the road in late May of 2017. The bright green shrubs and undergrowth provided a striking contrast to the blackened tree trunks – remnants of a fi re that scorched the hills in 2012. As I waited for the soft evening light to cover the landscape, I found myself beneath a fast moving, isolated rain shower that swept over the hills. The precipitation cast a veil over the land and glistened against the rays of the setting sun. It was then that I realized my desire to experience these beautiful surroundings at all times of the year. My next visit to East Ash was during a late season snow shower during the fi nal days of March. I found myself standing at the same vantage as wet snowfl akes dropped to the ground, accentuating the twisting road. Once again the thick atmosphere created a haze that concealed the surrounding buttes. After I returned home I converted the image to black and white, emphasizing the contrasting tones between the snow-lined road and barren vegetation. It wasn't until late July that I had another chance to visit the Pine Ridge. I made the drive during the last week of the month, hoping to capture the region under a dramatic midsummer storm. As night fell on East Ash, I could see distant lightning fl ashes on the horizon. As I waited, the fl ashes became brighter and brighter as the storm followed a direct path toward me. Ultimately, I was forced to retreat as T

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