Submitted by Steve Meurett
We're in the midst of a major winter storm today-heavy snow and blowing wind-perfect time to reflect on the past year! The Levis Mound trail system is located in south west Clark County in the 133,000 acre county forest. It hosts one of the premier cross country ski and mountain bike trails in the Midwest. It's also home to some breathtaking scenery, comprised of towering sandstone bluffs, surrounding pine and mixed forest and nearby lakes and rivers.
The mounds arising from the forest below recently became the backdrop of a photoshoot for Arctic cat ATVs. An advertising agency from the Twin Cities scouted the location (along with sandy trails in Jackson County) and obtained permission to do a location shoot and set about gathering models, the atvs and local help. Levis Mound is not an ATV destination, but an exception was made to use the unique location. Levis Mound is extremely steep and there are no suitable trails to access the top of the bluff. As a mountain bike and hiking trail builder there for the past 25 years, I was able to find a route to the top we use from time to time for trail maintenance. A challenging ride to be sure.
As a photographer myself, I was very interested in how the "pros" do it. An amazing amount of equipment was unloaded along with shiny new 2013 machines that were to be the subjects of the shoot. (I did have to sign a NDA and agree not to reveal any images I shot) Levis has several beautiful outcroppings, perfect for what the photographers and art directors wanted. One crew shot video to be used for dealers showcasing new features, while another crew shot still images for catalogs. Both crews were gracious and didn't mind my questions or me hovering with my camera.
The "models" wore full safety gear at all times and had unbelievable riding skill in hopping the 1000cc machines onto toe hold rock ledges. I'm sure a thousand frames were shot from every angle and there was an urgency as the perfect late day light faded quickly. The crews changed locations and quickly dusk began to settle in. The photographers seemed really happy with the images they had and felt this was one of the better locations they'd used for a shoot. I led them back out and helped load machines back onto trailers at the trail head, happy to have been involved with the project. The following day they'd head to trails south for actions shots.
Levis Mound also played host to photographers shooting a Gary Fisher Mountain Bike catalog a year or so ago, so I guess I feel fortunate to work and play at such a photogenic place. It all makes me want to rush out the door to start shooting today in the new snow-should make for some great images!
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Steve Meurett lives, works and plays in West Central Wisconsin and spends about every free moment outdoors where his passions lie. His outdoor interests take him on and off trail, pursuing mountain biking and skinny skiing, photography and hunting, while keeping an eye on wild mushrooms and the next fruit for craft wine. Steve is the Trail Director at The Levis Mound Trail System and member of the Clark County Trails Advisory Committee. He resides, teaches and is a photographer in Neillsville. Steve can be reached at email@example.com.