With my computer’s hard drives near capacity, one of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to go through my old photo archives and cull the herd so to speak. In the process of sifting through literally thousands of images, I found a few images that I really enjoy, but had forgotten about. I ended up spending a lot of time reminiscing on past adventures and dreaming of future ones!
The year 2009 was truly a pivotal year in my life. I had been living in the Colorado mountains for several years and was really falling in love with the mountain lifestyle; I couldn’t see myself ever leaving. I spent all of my free time exploring the mountains and was becoming comfortable hiking off trail and navigating the vast wilderness areas that Colorado and the American West so thankfully have. I was also introduced to backcountry skiing and began catching glimpses of the incredible beauty the mountains have to offer in the winter. I was lucky to have friends that were willing to teach me the techniques required to play safely in the mountains.
It was in 2009 when I began to truly focus my energy to not only visit beautiful and remote areas in nature, but to photograph these locations in a more personal and artistic way. In the past, I had used my photography as more of a means to document my adventures, but in 2009, I really began to shoot my photographs with the intent to invoke an emotional response with the viewer. I didn’t want to just show people I had been somewhere neat; using my photographs, I wanted people to feel what it was like to be there.
Bald Mountain rests opposite the valley from the world famous Vail Ski Area in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. From the village of Vail, 12,126′ Bald Mountain rises over 4000′ vertical feet in 5 miles from the trailhead on the valley floor. Climbing this mountain was a major undertaking and success for me at the time. With Bald Mountain being one of my first winter climbs, every time I see it, whether I’m skiing at Vail Resort or just driving by on I-70, this peak puts a smile on my face.
When I tell people I think it is fun to go camping in the snow, most of them think I’m crazy. I think it’s awesome. And, besides, snow can linger in in the mountains well into July. Considering snow storms can come as soon as September, to enjoy the high mountains of Colorado means you also need to enjoy snow!
Hanging Lake outside of Glenwood Springs is a mega tourist destination; the steep trail is packed with vacationers throughout the summer. In fact, by mid morning on a nice day, the parking lot at the trailhead often fills up and spills out onto the shoulders of the interstate! Despite the crowds, one visit to the lake and accompanying Bridal Veil Falls, you you will understand why the spot is so popular. I made the hike to Hanging Lake in late spring and had the place all to myself.
I sometimes forget how spoiled Coloradans are. The above view is a short hike from a my former home in Edwards, just west of Vail, Colorado.
William Henry Jackson literally put Mount of the Holy Cross on the map when he was the first to photograph the mountain in 1873 while on the Hayden Survey. Nearly 150 years later, not a whole lot about this mountain has changed. To get the above image of Holy Cross, I drove to the trailhead in the middle of the night so I could climb Notch Mountain and be on its summit before sunrise.
The Holy Cross Wilderness is an incredibly beautiful area. Especially surrounding the wilderness namesake, the valleys are chock full of sparkling high alpine lakes packed with vibrantly colored trout. I’ve hiked the majority of the valleys and climbed many of the mountains in this wilderness and still, I feel myself being pulled back to this incredible slice of paradise. Accessed from the town of Eagle, Nolan Lake on the western end of the wilderness is one of my favorite spots. From parking on the rough road at the ghost town of Fulford, it is a relatively easy several mile hike with only 1,400′ of vertical gain.
In the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness outside Aspen, Colorado, one popular and awe inspiring trek is the four pass loop, which in 30 miles, circumnavigates the famous and photogenic Maroon Bells (if you don’t recognize the names, trust me, you’ve seen pictures of them). The trek involves hiking up and over four high alpine passes all around 12500′ in elevation. The start and finish of the four pass loop is Maroon Lake, where the most well recognized photos of “The Bells” are taken. I feel a little guilty in admitting it, but I’ve never visited Maroon Lake under ideal conditions to photograph; I’m always passing through on my way into the wilderness….
At the time, the four pass loop was the longest hike, in both mileage and days off grid, that I had undertaken. I have since graduated on to longer and more intense treks, but at the time, I could hardly believe my accomplishment! Hiking thirty miles carrying a heavy pack in up and down terrain at high elevation is hard work, but well worth the effort!
With Utah being Colorado’s western neighbor, I ashamed if I don’t visit this amazing state at least once a year. The sandstone fins, arches and canyonlands in the Moab area alone could keep an adventurous soul exploring for a lifetime.
The canyonlands across southern Utah is jaw dropping but so are the out of this world arches and rock formations; especially those found in Arches National Park located north of Moab, Utah.