Posts Tagged With: Colorado

Backpacking to Slide Lake – Park Range, Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, Colorado

I have spent little time in the Park Range in Northern Colorado.  Admittedly, I’ve spent more time skiing at the ski resort in Steamboat Springs than I have hiking in the same mountains.  I spend a lot of time researching and am very discriminant when choosing potential backpacking adventures.  When I lived in Colorado, other mountain ranges were closer, and now that I am in Wyoming, the Bighorn Mountains too are closer than the Park Range.  When I am willing to drive, exotic areas like Yellowstone and the Wind River Range tend to draw my attention.  As a result, I have mostly overlooked the Park Range.

Even though I have largely avoided the Park Range, the Mount Zirkel Wilderness that encompasses a great portion of these mountains and it should not be ignored!  The mountains may not be as tall as others in Colorado (not a single 14er in the range) but they are still plenty rugged and are great to look at and, of course, photograph.  In 2014, I met some friends on the fourth of July for a two night backpacking trip to Slide Lake.

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The outlet to Slide Lake starts as a stream but then fans out on immense slabs of granite that were pitched just enough that I could manage to walk around in the (cold!) flowing water looking for compositions.

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I was surprised how much snow was lingering around Slide Lake but also how rapidly it was melting.  I took the above picture by carefully walking out onto a snow penninsula that stuck out into the lake.  I was luck to have captured this photo; by the time we packed up camp and headed out at the end of the weekend, this snow bridge had collapsed and floated out into the lake like a small iceberg.

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Although the Mount Zirkel Wilderness is not as well known as other areas in Colorado, I am glad to have visited and look forward to backpacking it again.

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I’m Seeing Double, Triple, and More

Let me start by saying I don’t use Photoshop very often.  Probably like most photographers, I prefer be taking pictures and pretty much loath organizing and editing them on my computer.  However, Photoshop is a wonderful tool that can really extend a photographer’s creative vision.  Last weekend, I spent a lazy day on the couch and learned how to combine multiple photos into a single frame; and in doing so, created an action sequence.  I’ve done it here with skiing action, but the technique could be used for all different types of action sports and even wildlife.  Anyway, I learned something new and it has me seeing doubles, triples, and more!

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Categories: Photoshop, Skiing | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Backcountry Skiing in the West Elks – Colorado

I may have moved to Wyoming, but I still have a lot of ties back in Colorado; ties to friends and also ties to the mountains.  I am especially fond of the West Elks and particularly the Ragged Mountains, a sub range of the Elk Mountains.  The Elks are the same mountains that surround the popular ski town of Aspen, Colorado, but the West Elks are much less traveled.

It was in the West Elks where I went backpacking solo for the first time and also where I fell in love with backcountry skiing.  The tiny town of Marble is an incredible place; buried in the mountains and bordering wilderness areas on three sides, the scenery around this town with population of less than 100 will likely never change.  Also, the quarry that supplied marble for the columns of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and the pillars of the Lincoln Memorial came from this secluded corner of the Rocky Mountains.

Last weekend, a couple for friends and I drove up the road to the quarry to access some of the best backcountry skiing terrain I’ve ever explored.  Powder hunting was my primary objective, but I did stick my small Canon mirrorless camera in my backpack to snap a few shots along the way…

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Mika the husky surveys the scenery as Lee pauses just before topping out on our goal for the day.

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It is hard to get a good look at your line below with cornices blocking the view.  Still, the more distant views aren’t anything to complain about!

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Cornices?  What cornices?  Mika isn’t concerned about approaching the edge and getting a better view!

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It’s a long and steep trip up from the valley floor.  The only way to get to the top is by putting one foot in front of the other; Jason is busy doing so in fine style as he nears the last pitch of uphill.

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Lee drops in along a steep ridge while Mount Justice looms in the distance.

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Lower in the bowl and out of the steepest terrain, Lee lets loose and makes big and fast turns down the mountain.

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After Lee enjoyed his run down the mountain, Jason dropped in and enjoyed the untracked powder snow.

I absolutely enjoy Wyoming, but to be plain and simple, I miss this special place…

 

Categories: Nature, Skiing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Favorites Images from 2011

In 2011, I spent a significant portion of the year working in the San Luis Valley around  Alamosa in Southern Colorado and quite a few of my images reflect my time spent in that area of the state.  However, I continued to explore the wild spaces around “home” in the central mountains of Colorado.  It seems every time I go hiking in the wilderness that is right outside my backyard, I see more spots off the beaten track that I want to explore.  Just the mountains of Central Colorado could keep a hiker busy for a lifetime, not to mention all the other backpacking opportunities that abound in the American West!  I typically shoot landscapes, but I included a few images of backcountry skiing and snowboarding.  The majority of my skiing in 2011 year was around the Wolf Creek Pass area on the Eastern side of the San Juan Mountains but I did make it over to Silverton where the mountains are so big and rugged I imagined I had been somehow magically transported to Alaska!

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Aspen Porch – Aspen, Colorado

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Mt. Blanca Star Trails – San Luis Valley, Colorado

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Moon and Wind – Sanford, Colorado

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Couloir Skiing – Silverton Mountain, Colorado

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Rime Trees – Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado

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Self Portrait – Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado

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Horse Portrait – San Luis Valley, Colorado

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Horse Pasture – San Luis Valley, Colorado

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Moon Rocks – Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

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San Luis Sunflowers – Outside Sanford, Colorado

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Clearing Storm – San Luis Valley, Colorado


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2010: A few long trips into the mountains (and elsewhere).

2010  was a wild year for me.  After more than two years in the Vail Valley, I moved to Glenwood Springs to be closer to the construction project that I was promoted to manage.  Unfortunately, the new project and responsibility left little time for hiking and photography.  Even though I did not have as much free time as I would have liked, I was able to sneak away from civilization for a few longer backpacking trips. In one trip, I hiked Mount Sopris, near Carbondale, Colorado, and followed the 12000 foot high Elk Mountains Ridge from Mount Sopris all the way South to Capitol Peak.  Four days, thirty miles and twelve thousand vertical feet of hiking later, my black lab Sally and I emerged at the Capitol Peak trailhead  where my roommate had kindly stashed my truck for me!  Another memorable hike of the Summer was over the Fourth of July where I hike nearly thirty miles to the headwaters of  the Piney River in the Gore Range, crossed West Booth Pass and descended the Booth Creek drainage ending my hike near Vail.  During that hike, I had a very close encounter with a friendly mountain goat and spent the night of Independence Day curled up in my sleeping bag hunkered down in my tent during a snow storm!  I lucked out in the Fall when I visited the Kebler Pass area near Crested Butte and the McClure Pass area near Marble during the height of Fall colors.   Of course, when winter set in, I spent as much time as I could sliding down the local mountains on my skis.  Even though I wasn’t able to get out into the wild as often as I wanted, I was very productive with the free time that I did have!  What a great year!

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Brush Creek Headwaters – Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado

Lake Charles and Mystic Island Lake sit at the head of East Brush Creek; a creek that finds its source in a cirque with towering 13,000′ peaks surrounding the valley.  The scale of the image above is impressive.  More than a mile separates Lake Charles (in the lower right of the frame) and Mystic Island Lake (in the upper left of the frame).

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Ripsaw Reflection – Eagles Nest Wilderness, Colorado

Black Tooth Mountain and Ripsaw Ridge are reflected in a small pond northwest of West Booth Pass in the Eagles Nest Wilderness outside Vail, Colorado.

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Piney Goat – Eagles Nest Wilderness, Colorado

A curious goat says hello deep in the Eagles Nest Wilderness north of Vail, Colorado.

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Desert Survivor – Utah

A lone tree clings to life in the Utah desert somewhere along a lonely highway.

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Desert Tracks – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

The desert is alive!  Insect tracks crisscross a windswept pattern in the sandy landscape near Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

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Logging Landmarks – Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

Even though a large portion of the Colorado high country is now protected as Wilderness, the land was not always held in such regard; the results of past clear cut logging are still clearly visible decades after this area, near 14er Huron Peak, was protected.

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Mount Callahan Clouds – White River National Forest, Colorado

The great thing about Colorado is almost every town in or near the mountains is incredibly scenic.  I took this photo of a clearing storm from from the sidewalk in front of city hall in Parachute, Colorado; no hiking involved!

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Homestead Pond – Moffat County, Colorado

Decaying remains of an old homesteader’s cabin sit right alongside the highway North of Meeker, Colorado.  I drove by these remains this fall and this interesting window has deteriorated greatly in just the three years since I took this picture.

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Fiery Flat Tops – Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado

A clearing storm is lit ablaze by the last rays of sunlight high above Wall Lake as seen from Trappers Peak, deep in the Flat Tops Wilderness.

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Flat Tops Vista – Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado

Puffy Clouds drift by a small pond surrounded by a grassy meadow on top of the plateau southwest of Trappers Peak in the Flat Tops Wilderness of Colorado.

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Crystal Mill – Near Marble, Colorado

One must follow a rough 4×4 road into the mountains outside Marble, Colorado for more than six miles to reach this landmark. To see a structure so old in such a remote place is really something special. Unfortunately, as beautiful as the Crystal Mill is, it stands a reminder to me of man’s zeal to exploit nature; even in the most remote and beautiful of places.

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Fall and Fire – Crystal Mill outside Marble, Colorado

A fiery sunrise and fall color combine to create a scene to remember at the often photographed Crystal Mill, deep in the Elk Mountains.

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Arkansas Peak Cloudscape – Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

An interesting cloud forms over a lone tree on top of Arkansas Peak with the massive Treasure Mountain looming in the distance.

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Prairie Ruins – Western South Dakota

A slowly decaying fence stands alone on the vast South Dakota prairie.

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From the Archives – Favorite Images from 2009

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.

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Bald Mountain Summit – Gore Range, Colorado

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.

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Mount Huron Sun Burst – Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

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!

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Bridal Veil Falls Detail – Hanging Lake, White River National Forest, Colorado

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.

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Vail Valley Sunset – Edwards, Colorado

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.

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Mount of the Holy Cross – Holy Cross Wilderness, 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.

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Nolan Lake – Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado

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….

Fravert Basin - Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

Fravert Basin – Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

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!

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Snowmass Lake Reflection – Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

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.

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Dead Horse Point – Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

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.

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Klondike Bluffs – Arches National Park, Utah

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