Highpointing: Black Mesa, Oklahoma

Black Mesa, the highpoint of Oklahoma, is located in the driest, coldest, and harshest place in the state, though just not when we stopped by. No, when we visited the rain never let up until the final scene and it was greener than I had ever expected. So far in this highpointing journey these are the wettest conditions I have yet had to film in. Needless to say I learned a few things, the first was that a bounce card serves as a great hasty umbrella for your equipment even if it is a bit noisy, second, my Nikon D7200 continues to perform well in adverse conditions, third keeping that lens clean can become a real challenge as everything gets more and more soaked.

Here is a fun little fact about Cimarron County; it is the only county in the United States to border four different states. It has a real life Wild West feel to it. The whole time I was there I kept thinking how fun it would be to film a western in that environment. The region remains true to its history.

The crew for this highpoint adventure was Brett Evenstad and Eric Krause. This was Brett’s second time behind the camera and he rose to the challenge filming in this wet weather. This was Eric’s first time out with us though I have known him for years. He drove us from Denver to Black Mesa and back which was a huge plus. That wasn’t his only contribution to this episode. It would have been a whole lot more difficult to produce if Eric hadn’t been there to keep things dry and protected.

As for the filming itself, we played it pretty straight using the same technique we have for other summits with longer hikes. Get to the summit first and shoot everything in reverse order. You will notice there are no real technical shots in this episode. That can be chalked up to the incessant rain. By the end of the shoot the rain was becoming a real frustration for me. Sound proved to be a real challenge as well. You can hear raindrops in almost every shot. I tried to minimize some of this in post but I’m not sure my efforts yielded any results.

The episode used three pieces of music. The two in the background section are by Kevin MacLeod of incompetech.com, the other in the ascent section is from freepd.com. The first is “Firesong,” and the other is “Pale Rider.” They do a pretty good job of bringing out the wild west feeling I was going for.

For the ascent though I wanted something different. There is some comedy in that Black Mesa, the driest place in the state, was a soaking wet hike for the team. The piece chosen is “Waltzing Marvin,” sort of a parody of the Australian standard, “Waltzing Mathilda.” It had the more humorous yet still western vibe I wanted to bring out.

If you get to Cimarron County then the Black Mesa hike is worth a stop. There is a lot of interesting history, geology, and culture to be found out there if you take the time to look for it. If you enjoyed this episode please consider subscribing on YouTube to the Rooftops of America channel. Also consider donating to the Rooftops of America GoFundMe Campaign so we can continue bringing you these episodes as we go highpointing across the USA. Thanks for watching!

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