By the end of April, it had been almost (gulp) six months since my last vacation, and man, was I ready to get out of town, especially after being tied up at home through most of the winter. The desert was calling. This is just a very abbreviated recap with a small sample of harvested imagery. I am planning on a full trip report later, but that will take awhile to put together. A little more than half the trip was spent with my friend and co-worker, Tad Bowman, who has posted some images on his site. The main locations visited included the San Rafael Swell, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Grand Canyon. The trip was most excellent and I’m pleased with a number of pictures I came away with.
If you think of an ideal focal length for a landscape lens, you might think something in the neighborhood in the 24-35mm range. That gives you something wide to take the most of the landscape in that’s laid out before you. And while I definitely shoot a lot of stuff at that length, I tend to shoot about equally as much at the opposite end of the spectrum, especially in the fall where the ratio is much more in favor at the long end. I believe I purchased my 100-400 lens in 2000, and it has seen a lot of use since. Though it isn’t that sharp maxed out at 400mm, I think my copy does rather well and have no complaints. That lens never used to come off the camera during the fall and it just got to the point that I wanted even more reach and sharpness.
Enter fall of 2009 when I purchased a used Canon 500mm. This lens is pretty much reserved for the wildlife and bird shooters of the world, but I had far different plans. It’s certainly no play toy and not a purchase to take lightly. I suppose I’d get more use out of a nice used car instead, but I knew I’d get a good bit of use out of this lens for years to come. And in the two-plus years I’ve had it, I’ve shot 2,600 pictures with it, though certainly most are bracketed exposures. There are no signs of slowing down. There aren’t a whole lot of landscape-only photographers out there who employ the use of one of these things, but it has found a nice home in my toolbox. Actually, it takes up a lot of room when going on trips, but there’s no way I’d leave it at home unless I’m out for a backpacking trip. I’ve even been dumb enough to carry its weight and trudge up the steep walls in the Great Sand Dunes a couple of times! It really is as sharp everyone says, even with either of Canon’s teleconverter offerings, the 1.4x and 2x.
I usually find it relatively easy isolating sections of a given landscape and my results might indicate I slightly favor the intimate landscape, but I’ll photograph whatever looks good at the time. I suppose I don’t have much of a point with this post other than to share results that are from a bit outside of the box from a landscaper’s perspective. Below are some of my favorites with this lens to date.
Time to break the ice here. My trips have slowed this winter due to other obligations, though I did manage to get out for a three-day weekend in late January. Since I didn’t make it to Utah in 2011 for some unexplained reason, it was definitely time to get back. And there isn’t a much better place than one of my favorite areas–Canyonlands. I really didn’t have any particular places in mind, but just wanted to get away and isolate myself in silence. It turns out that I did that for a day and a half worth where I didn’t see any sign of life (except a couple airplanes) and I ended up about 60 miles from the nearest pavement. It was just what the doctor ordered as my last time out was my east coast fall color trip that saw a great amount of people and development. Though it wasn’t too productive on the picture-taking front, it was a great trip to relax and to soak up some great scenery.
Over the July 4th weekend, I figured I’d do something a bit different and head out to go see an area I’ve not ventured before–the Bighorn Mountains in north-central Wyoming. I like mountains, so I figured it wouldn’t be a bad decision. I drove up to Buffalo, Wyoming, after work on Friday. By morning on Saturday, I found the lupines were going nuts, absolutely exploding everywhere. I had clear skies all weekend and didn’t come away with a whole lot of good imagery, but it was very nice to check the area out first-hand. I wanted to visit a couple of waterfalls, but was blocked by snow. I got to see all of the nice peaks in the range which will be a worthy backpacking destination at some point. I drove around a good bit of the range on either side and, as is my nature, I had to travel a few back roads. On with a sampling of pictures:
So, it’s been (gulp) four years already since I’ve last visited one of Colorado’s most impressive features, the Black Canyon. In fact, I believe it and the Great Sand Dunes are the the two most impressive single features and natural wonders the state has. I can’t think of anything else that comes close. I already have an extensive collection of imagery from the dunes, and my collection from the Black Canyon is rather limited. It’s time to change that!
The first trip back to this place was scheduled last weekend, but I had to shift it to this weekend. I’ll have Monday off. In fact, I’m going to be renting a pair of cross-country skis from REI, which will be the first time this native has even so much as put on a ski! Ideally, I’d like to be able to get some pictures from some of the overlooks beyond the visitor center where the road is closed during the winter. I figure gliding on skis will be a bit faster than walking. We’ll see if I can manage more than a hundred feet. And, since the Grand Canyon trip camping at -30 a couple weeks ago, I won’t even think twice about the traditionally cold Gunnison air. I have really been looking forward to going back. I plan to get there at least four times this year, but hopefully closer to six. We’ll see.
This driver’s point of view, 31-minute video covers the full 4.5-mile route between the outskirts of Marble to Crystal, including the Crystal Mill. There are always a lot of questions about how difficult the road actually is for many who haven’t been. Hopefully, this will be a definitive resource that answers that question, and can give the perfect preview. It does not require 4WD, and medium clearance is preferred. Shot on Memorial Day weekend, 2010. I was running the tires at ~12 PSI, so I was able to run a bit faster pace than what you’d be able to go at street pressure. I’ve done it in 37 minutes on street pressure, but that’s at a pretty rough pace for a vehicle. I apologize for the dirty windshield! I had just washed it in Carbondale to prepare for this and the sun direction doesn’t help.
I meant to put this up before last summer, but I never followed up. I see this as being a valuable resource to a number of folks. It is one of my favorite areas in the state. I’m a big fan of Lead King Basin and the rest of the Schofield Pass road as well, both of which can be reached continuing on where this video leaves off, and both are substantially more difficult. I have reports of those roads in my 4WD section.
Edited on 3/20: replaced with HD version
The following is primarily written for photographers, but the most casual snap-shooter can use the information as well.
This year (well, I actually finished it last year) is the first calendar I have done. The full calendar can be seen here. In short, this calendar is one notch below top-notch; in other words, very impressive. Read on.
My main criteria for my own calendar was to have it in the larger 11×14 format. There aren’t many printers that offer this size, and I believe Lulu is the only other one I’ve found to date, though based on one account, Zazzle’s is superior. I’ve tried playing with Lulu’s version online, but I don’t see a blank template you can use, which means a cover photo is going to be inset in one of their cheesy patterns. If there is a way to avoid that, I haven’t found it. I’m still looking for other vendors to try to compare to in the future. I wasn’t sure what to expect quality-wise going into the Zazzle product.
The paper weight is pretty much perfect. Though I can’t hazard a guess on its actual weight, and Zazzle doesn’t specify, it does not have a cheap, flimsy feel, for lack of a better description. The front cover is glossy and the internal pages and back cover are a matte finish, which is desirable. I suppose it would be nice if the covers were even more robust, but for what it is, I don’t have any complaints. The back cover scratches fairly easily if you set it on anything abrasive, so keep this in mind should you hang onto it after the year has run its course. Actually, the images on the internal pages can scratch just as easily, but since they don’t touch anything, it’s a non-issue.
Color reproduction seems to be a pretty solid match (sRGB). My friend, Jody Grigg, also had a Zazzle calendar made, and a couple images were a bit muted compared to the original, but I didn’t have any such issue. On both of our first runs, we both had one image that was soft, though the original uploaded versions were sharp. I made a revision and over-sharpened the image in question, and the result matched, so I have no idea what happened here.
Jody had multiple copies made, and he had two back-to-back vertical bands on the left third of the images; on both of my versions, I have banding throughout (see example below), which I would expect would be most common. This is only noticeable on images with a plain background, such as sky; you’d never see it on busier images. I could see this being a problem for birders or wildlife shooters with a solid background. It’s a great fit for landscapers, though you might choose to be a bit more discerning with the images you go with.
The only other negative aspect on the printing is that the preceding and following months in the date boxes are not readable since they’re too small, which is disappointing. I’m not even sure why they put them on there. I meant to query them to see if it might be something they can resolve, but haven’t gotten to that yet.
Zazzle’s interface could use some work on their site, as the workspace is very small. Text caption placement was the single toughest thing to get right to make sure my alignment was uniform. Still, it’s doable, and with some time, it shouldn’t really cause a problem.
Overall, it’s a bit expensive, but you aren’t going to find one-offs for much less. I am rather happy with mine and it really does look very, very sharp. If not for the vertical banding, it very much looks and feels professional-grade. Again, if you use detailed images, you’ll not see this. If you want to see your work displayed in a quality calendar, I can strongly recommend Zazzle.
The following is my best example I can show with the banding that has plain and detailed portions. It is somewhat subtle, yet annoying. Casual viewers won’t think twice about it, but it is a photographer’s gripe to be sure. You’ll have to click on it, then click on it again on the following page to see the full-size image.
Tags: zazzle calendar review
All the pictures that I put up from the trip can be found in my recent gallery.
I took a week off between Christmas and New Year’s Day since I somehow managed to leave four vacation days unused through the summer. I’ve never taken a longer vacation this time of year before. I was originally thinking of heading to Canyonlands, but I finally got my wits and decided to head to some places I haven’t been to previously, but ones I’ve been wanting to see. Well, I have been to Grand Canyon when I was a kid with the family, but not with a camera.
White Sands was to be the first stop on the trip. A place I’ve been really wanting to visit for the past eight years, but just never made it a priority. It’s a bit out of the way being directly south of Denver eight hours. The big problem with White Sands is that the park isn’t that photographer-friendly. The monument is closed at night and opens after sunrise; during the summer, apparently they let you stay out an hour after sunset, but during the winter, they start making people exit just after. The only way to stay in the park, without paying a $50 early access fee, is to backpack about a mile in and stay in one of the ten designated campsites. So, that’s what I was going to have to do. I was just hoping that the temperature wouldn’t fall too much below the upper 20s when I’d be there. Thankfully, it was 30 and 31 degrees for the two nights that I stayed there. I really, really enjoyed the place. The soft pastel blues are absolutely amazing around sunrise and sunset. By my best estimation, the tallest dunes are 20-30 feet, and every bowl has a flat floor at virtually the same elevation. Compared to the Great Sand Dunes, this place was like walking on an interstate; you can really cover some ground in fairly short order even though the sand is much finer–almost a powder. It was really incredible to visit for the first time. I’d definitely go again.
After White Sands, it was time to head to Grand Canyon, but since Bisti Wilderness (35 miles south of Farmington in northwest New Mexico) lies pretty much en route, I was planning to stop here overnight. The drive up takes quite awhile, and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it by sunset after my 9:15 AM departure from White Sands. I was pushing for time, but arrived at the trailhead, threw my stuff together, walked the flat 1.6 miles out to the formations I was wanting to see as quickly as I could, and had about five minutes of light to work with on the egg formations. I had a wonderful sunset there and continued to shoot some other formations until dark when I hiked back to the trailhead. I had wanted to shoot sunrise as well, but it was overcast, and a snow system was arriving in the region. The drive to, and out of, Farmington and just into Arizona was painfully slow and very slick with a good bit of snow on the roads. In fact, just before I got to Farmington, the back end of the 4Runner went out of control; I ended up doing five to seven 45-degree skids between about 55 and 25 MPH. Thankfully, there was no traffic at this point and I managed to keep the 4Runner on the road.
I arrived at Grand Canyon only to find it totally fog-filled along with snow conditions with heavy 40 MPH winds. I got shut out the first night, and forecast didn’t look better for the second day. I ended up camping just south of the park entrance along a national forest road (FR328, for those who like to do the free thing like me). Thankfully, the second day saw patches of blue sky in the afternoon and I had plenty of light in the canyon. I even got a bit of color at sunset. The forecast was calling for a low of -4, but ended up getting to -28, I believe. The coldest I had ever camped previously was 8 degrees at Great Sand Dunes in 2010. I had tremendous conditions the third day, and the low temperature on January 1 got to -30! I’ve never been out when it’s been this cold, but I would’ve expected it to feel a lot colder. As it was, I stayed plenty warm, though as I rolled over in my sleeping bag around 3:30 AM, my zipper split. I still managed to stay warm as I was wearing my huge and very warm down coat, though there were cool spots. After sunrise on New Year’s Day, I headed for Moab, where I would take a look at my bag’s zipper. No go. I was planning to stay in this area for the final night, but decided to head for home after sunset. Overall, it was a very rewarding trip photographically, and I really, really enjoyed it. It’s also great to know that I really have no boundary, temperture-wise, on the low end of the scale.
Spurred on by a recent blog post by my friend, Scott Bacon, I decided to redesign my business card. I’ll send them off to print in the near term. To date, I’ve printed my cards at home using the flimsy business card paper stock that you buy in stores. They felt cheap, but otherwise looked good. The other problem was that I was always out of them. It should be easier to have a steady supply now. This was the first image that came to mind, not only because it’s my current favorite, but because it’s a clean background design that wouldn’t compete with the text. Thankfully, its lines cooperated. My next choice was this one, but I couldn’t place the text in a well-designed layout. I should probably redesign my site next and give it a facelift, but that seems like an overwhelming job for my complete lack of skills.
I just returned from my first ever two-week fall trip. I’ve been wanting to do something a bit different the last two or three years, but the Colorado forests have such a pull on me this time of year. But I finally did it, and I was in search of reds this time around in the form of maples. Upon returning from my Canadian Rockies trip in 2005, as I traveled along Pallisades Reservoir in Idaho at the Wyoming border, I was struck by the amazing scarlet reds. I was determined to make it back this year and planned for it early on, but I would only spend the first 2.5 days in Idaho before spending the majority of the rest of my time in Utah’s Wasatch Range, which has much more of a selection. The following are a very small sampling from my 3,400-mile trip. Unfortunately, you have to go through two clicks to get the full-size picture. I’ll work on the rest in the coming weeks.
(edit: all fall pictures are online in my recent gallery)
I just got back from my second big backpacking trip in a month; this time a seven-nighter to the northern end of the great Wind River Range in west-central Wyoming. It was either between Titcomb Basin or the Cirque of the Towers 30 miles to the south. My friend, John, and I ended up going to Titcomb, so the Cirque will have to wait until next year. Both are a mountain-lover’s paradise. We experienced/endured quite the eclectic mix of weather, but from a picture-taking standpoint, it was mostly golden, where I was treated to very favorable conditions. I even unexpectedly (going into the trip) made the rough ascent to Bonney Pass to get the prime view of the state’s highest mountain, Gannett Peak. This really capped off an already tremendous trip to the highest extent, and I couldn’t be more elated. It was an absolutely amazing trip.
Yet again, a full trip report will be detailed later. I need to quit taking trips so I can start working on them!
A point-and-shoot camera is a very integral part of my photo gear toolbox. It’s really the workhorse as far as my cameras go, as they generally see a lot more work than my SLR or 4×5. For the heck of it, I thought I’d put my collection up, which follows.
April, 2003 – May, 2006: Canon PowerShot S45
May, 2006 – August, 2009: Canon PowerShot S80
August, 2009 – August 2010: Panasonic Lumix FX48
August, 2010 – current: Canon PowerShot S90
While at first glance it might appear as though I’m a Canon fan, along with the fact that my SLRs have been all Canon to date as well, that is not the case; I simply have chosen the best camera for my uses. What initially drew me to the Canon PowerShot series back in 2003 was the audio recording capability, which allowed for a 30-second audio clip to be recorded and assigned for the associated picture. This was a good way to add audio notes in the field (related or unrelated to the picture) without the need for a voice recorder. I used this feature a lot. I retired my S45 (4 MP) when the command dial stopped working properly due to general wear. I could’ve sent it into Canon for repair, but the cost would’ve undoubtedly not been worth it, and there was a substantial resolution increase by this time as well in the current generation of cameras. Even during its era, it was one of the few point-and-shoot models that supported a raw file capture, though I never used it.
Next, I picked up the S80. Virtually identical in size to the S45, its resolution increased to 8 MP, which allowed for greater freedom for prints (never really did, as my bigger cameras were/are used for that). I stayed with this series because I knew it worked and it still had the best option for audio clips. The buttons and dials were very slick on this unit, in terms of their position and layout. Very tough to beat. That was just a side benefit and hardly a criteria. It records JPEGs only, but that’s no big deal for my uses. I finally had to give it up a year ago because the sliding lens cover came disconnected, which may have been due to riding in my pocket during hiking. I just decided to retire it because I wanted something that would fit better in a pant’s pocket and wouldn’t feel like an anchor while hiking. I knew the next criteria would be that I wasn’t going to get another camera with a sliding lens cover, which activates the power.
That brought me to try out something from Panasonic in the summer of 2009. The Canon S90 had only been announced in mid-August, which was a re-introduction of the Powershot S-series, but even if it were available at that time, I would’ve opted for something cheaper than what it originally sold for. I figured the Panasonic models were the next best thing with my main criteria being thin and light. Unfortunately, pretty much all manufacturers have done away with manual modes in their point-and-shoots and simply rely on general exposure compensation without the ability to control the aperture or shutter speeds. I figured it would be for snapshots anyway, and if everyone uses them just fine as they are, then there wouldn’t be any reason I couldn’t. I ended up with the very slim and light Lumix FX48. Absolutely perfect for a pocket–pants or shirt. But that’s where my fondness of it ended after my first trip. The menu is ugly, but I could get by with that. The image quality is horrible, as it has an overly compressed look to it. And even though I just use it for general snapshots and Web use, looking at the pictures at full size always bugged me. It also had a very weird look in certain full sun and blue sky situations. To top it off, even when you select the landscape preset, the dumb algorithm that was programmed in often makes it shoot at something around f/3, even in full daylight. Stupid and extremely frustrating how something that should be so simple wasn’t done. A year of this was about all I could take. I’m going to hold onto it for now, but . . .
Which finally brings me to the present day. During my last backpacking trip in the Weminuche, my Panasonic acted up once and stopped functioning for a couple of days. Then later in the trip, riding in my pant’s pocket through rain and wet willows brushing off that drenched the pants, my LCD went a bit dim. I was silently hoping I killed the dumb thing! It seems to have returned to normal, but during the course of the last year seeing all the glowing reviews of the Canon S90, I made another move. I picked up a lightly used one about a week ago and feel like I’m back in the saddle again. I haven’t even taken an outdoor picture with it yet, but I don’t have to, to know that it is going to work, and work right. I’m glad Canon did away with the sliding lens cover, and I get all my manual controls back. Unfortunately, they’ve dropped the audio clip option as well, which I’ll miss. They did re-add raw image recording, though, along with a very fast/bright f/2.0 lens. Mine seems a bit lightly made on the top panel on the left side near the flash, as there is some general play, but I don’t know if all units exhibit this. All units do have a very loose function wheel. I do wish it offered HD video at 1280×720 (it only has 640×480), but my 5D2 will continue to handle that task and then some. The S90’s first trip starts this weekend in Wyoming for what will be a memorable trip in the Wind Rivers.
A year to the day since the S90 press release, on August 19, 2010, Canon announced the S95–the S90’s replacement. It’s a hair slimmer, supposed to be a bit better with noise, and does add 1280×720 video. This will be another tremendous camera. It sounds like it will be at least another month before it’s released. I don’t have any urge of replacing mine, and I’ll be happy with the price savings on the S90. I hope this one will be up to any rigors I put it through, and hope it lasts a few release cycles. I’m very happy with what I see so far.
Well, I made it back alive from my thunderstorm tour, 2010! As mentioned previously, I took two backpacking trips — one 3-day one into the Uncompahgre Wilderness, then a 6-day adventure through the Weminuche, around 40 miles worth on the latter. There will be complete trip reports for both later for the main site. Lots of good stuff with a few other stops, but these were some of the main picture highlights below.
I think I’m going to take two bye weeks now (we’ll see) before the next big trip in the Wind Rivers at the end of the month.
Tomorrow evening, I’m heading out to the wildflower kingdom that is the San Juan Mountains for 16 days. There will be two great backpacking trips to new places for me, many cool pictures taken, and a lot of lightning that will test the nerves. I hope I make it back to post an update!
I will work on a full trip report later for the main site when the busy summer is over, but here’s another brief recap.
Over the weekend, a friend and I did a one-night backpacking above Eccles Pass, where we camped in the saddle below the unofficially named Demming Mountain. Three weeks ago, I saw the impressive mountain display from the north end, so this time it made sense to see it from the southern end. Yep, still very impressive! I somehow mustered the energy to hike the additional 600 feet above camp to the 12,902-foot-summit of the mountain where the 360-degree views really opened up. But just check out the second picture below looking along the range crest! You aren’t going to find any other mountainscape like this in Colorado. So underappreciated. Man, this summer is off to a flying start!
Yes, you read that title right! I actually went to one of my most dreaded places to visit, that oh-so-popular park to the north. I don’t dread it so much for the scenery aspect, but for all the crowds who flock there and who think it’s the greatest thing the state has to offer, which really keeps it at the bottom of my list. Tad Bowman and I had actually scheduled this three-day weekend to do a two-night backpacking trip to Storm Pass in the West Elk Wilderness north of Gunnison, however the weather situation was very bleak calling for 40% chances of thunderstorms; something we’d rather not experience at 12,450′. So, we took the path of least resistance where the weather would be less of a factor. Tad suggested Rocky or the Rawah Wilderness in the Medicine Bow Mountains. I figured the mountains were more intriguing in Rocky, so that’s where we ended up.
We headed up after work on Thursday, got 2.5 hours of sleep at the most before we started on the trail at 2:00 AM so we could gain the 4.2 miles and 2,360′ by sunrise. Oddly, it wasn’t too difficult waking, but this was my first time starting on a trail this early. Some vacation this is! We made it to the lake with ~25 minutes to spare. I knew the scene would be impressive with Longs’ 1,800-foot Diamond face rising directly overhead, and it really is something else. Truly spectacular, in fact. Thankfully, we had a clear reflection during the whole good light stage, which can be rare in this windy park. We headed up to Trail Ridge Road for sunset, but got shut out. We were both thoroughly whooped after the lack of sleep by this point.
The second morning we headed to Sky Pond, a 4.6-mile trek, but a bit easier with 1,660′ of elevation. We were on the trail at 2:00 AM once again after three hours of sleep. As exhausted as I was the night before, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to wake up at all, but surprisingly wasn’t too bad. The three hours did amazingly good to re-charge the feet, which were tired from the previous day. We made it to Sky Pond where the wind howled really good, and unfortunately, I don’t like my results from there. However, I got a few decent shots from just down the trail.
On the way back down the trail, I counted 465 humans coming up infesting the place–and that’s just the one trail. I know it is one of the most popular, but who knows how many other trails are just like this. I might never come back to this place! Absolutely ridiculous, and I wasn’t feeling very intelligent for being in the area and I know I wasn’t helping things. Back at the trailhead, we rested for the better part of an hour trying to think of what we wanted to do for our third day. We both wanted to do the Black Lake hike for another sunrise, but we weren’t sure we could do a third day in a row leaving at 2:00 AM. We ended up heading for home very, very tired.
I had a fairly uneventful three-day weekend in the San Juans. I left work and drove straight to Enginer Pass on Friday night, where I camped. It had stormed earlier in the day, and I was left with really nice cloudy conditions for Saturday’s sunrise. I laid low below tree line for most of the rest of the day to keep away from the masses. I made a fire and cooked some brats and had some s’mores (thanks, Mom, Dad!). Mmm!
Once late afternoon arrived, I headed straight for Imogene Pass and shot from there and made camp at the lofty 13,114′ elevation where my 4Runner rocked in the strong winds all night long. I got the binoculars out to confirm my suspicion that it was Capitol Peak I was seeing off in the distance. I’m pretty sure I recall seeing it previously during other trips, but don’t remember checking it out with binoculars. Super impressive at 91 miles away with its amazing profile. Also visible are the Maroon Bells, and also super distinct, Castle Peak, both 88 miles away.
Sunday’s sunrise was cloudless, so I was able to sleep in until 9:00 when it got way too toasty inside. I headed down and went down a somewhat hidden side road off Red Mountain Pass to hide from the masses again and get more sleep in. Once 4:00 came, I ventured into Silverton and on up Kendall Mountain where I met my friend, John, and his brother, who joined me for the fireworks display amidsts a few squalls of snow. We then camped the night up top, so all three nights were spent at 12,800′ or higher.
Monday morning was cloudless, so I didn’t take any further pictures, though I somehow managed to wake up before 7:00 and head for home. Driving home, it was the first time I’ve ever had slowdown on the west side of the tunnel, where they periodically stop traffic for 20 minutes to avoid conjestion within the tunnel. Overall, the traffic delay was about almost two hours worth in getting back home.
Full trip report to be added later, but this is the quick version in the interim.
This was the most difficult thing I’ve done to date! Let’s just say by the end of our (dare I even list the time it took) ten-hour hike up running on one sandwich for the second half of the hike, Tad Bowman and I were so hungry, exhausted, and beat up. It was horrible! It’s the kind of trip that really makes me want to give up backpacking because it can be so much work. But hey, in the end, we made it. Easy to say that now. The trip back down was just as exhausting. As unbelievably difficult of a trek as this was, the views matched the intensity. And, man, are the peaks impressive! A scene that would make a guy think he’s in Washington’s Cascades, my jaw was sore from being open in amazement the whole time. It certainly matched any view I’ve ever seen in Colorado. And now having visited the Gore Range for the first time, I can say this just might just be the most impressive range we have, right alongside the Needle Mountains in the San Juans. I pretty much already knew this seeing various picture sources, but my first-hand experience sealed the deal. The next trip is slated for the southern end off of I-70 in two weeks.
Taking a three-day weekend and heading up to the hills tomorrow with Tad Bowman. We’re going to one of the finest spots in the Gore Range, Dora Lake, which is on the northern end out of Silverthorne. It is one to two weeks before I was originally planning to do it, but the schedule was open this weekend. It will probably be a tough haul of ~7 miles (half off-trail) and 3,680 feet of elevation gain, but the pictures should be worth it.
My friend, Jody Grigg, visited here on 7/9/07, and here is an example of what he brought home. We’ll see how much more snow there is a couple weeks earlier.
Also, check this fine picture by Jack Brauer.
I recently made plans for one more big summer trip. For what will be apart of a two-week wildflower trip during the last week of July and the first week of August, I now have dates set for a six-night backpack trip starting on August 1st in the Weminuche Wilderness. A friend and I will be doing the ~38-mile, 3/4-loop trip starting in Elk Park and ending in Needleton, which also means I get to ride the Durango and Silverton Railroad for the first time since I was around six. I am so very much looking forward to that aspect, along with the rest of the territory we’ll cover. It will undoubtedly be an epic trip–lightning and all.