Durmitor Loop

Bobotov Kuk, tent, Durmitor, Montenegro

A morning view of Bobotov Kuk from our tent.

Durmitor National Park is certainly the most famous and beloved mountain range in Montenegro. The mountains here aren’t the biggest or baddest ever, but they have an undeniably wonderful and unique character, like a combination of the rugged might of the Alps with the wild solitude of the Colorado Rockies. They seem to have a dash of everything I love most in mountains — jagged spires, sculpted peaks, vast green meadows, fields of wildflowers, misty forests, emerald lakes, and the freedom to explore it all in relative solitude. We spent four amazing days last week trekking through the heart of these fantastic mountains.

Bobotov Kuk, climbing, Durmitor, Montenegro

Climbing to the summit of Bobotov Kuk via the scrambly cabled route.

This was actually my second time visiting Durmitor; I was here by myself back in June of 2004. At that time it was the off season, the mountains were still covered in snowpack, and I was the only tourist in Zabljak, the little town situated at the base of the Durmitor mountains. There was only one restaurant open then, where I ate every evening with some Serbian army guys I met. It rained six days straight and when it finally stopped I used all my pent up energy to walk from town to the summit of Bobotov Kuk (the highest peak) and back in one day, with snowpack and all. Those army guys said it was impossible and didn’t believe me until I showed them the summit photos on my camera!

Eleven years later, in the height of summer season, the town of Zabljak is hopping. There’s people everywhere, lots of restaurants and bars, probably twice as many houses around here, and a general vibrant vibe that was completely absent during my previous visit. But despite the bustle in town, once we hiked past the popular Crno Jezero lake near the park entrance, the crowds quickly thinned. By the time we reached our first campsite we hadn’t seen anybody for hours. This range is small but there’s still plenty of opportunity to get away.

Bobotov Kuk, summit, Durmitor, Montenegro

Jack and Claudia on the summit of Bobotov Kuk (2522 m / 8274 ft), the highest mountain in the Durmitor range of Montenegro.

Of course Claudia and I had to summit Bobotov again on the way, and why not stay up there for sunset? On the way down we surprised some gämse, who sprinted up and away through rock fields with astounding speed and agility. Kind of made me jealous, only having two legs and not four.

Bobotov Kuk, Skrcka Jezera, Durmitor, Montenegro

The beautiful Skrcka Jezera below Bobotov Kuk.

This was one of those magical treks where each day was just as memorable and surprising as the last, if not more so. During our trek I got pretty lucky with light and photo conditions several times and am excited to share those photos once I’m back home to process them. I will definitely be updating this post later with lots more photos!

Maglic

Trnovacko, Montenegro

Hiking above Trnovacko Lake.

For the first mountain adventure of our Bosnia/Montenegro trip, Claudia and I went backpacking for two nights at Trnovacko Lake along the border of Bosnia and Montenegro. The lake itself is located on the Montenegro side of the border, but is only accessible via Sutjeska National Park on the Bosnian side. Sure enough, while we were camped there a warden came by to check our passports, which is kind of a novel thing to have happen while backpacking!

Trnovacko, Montenegro

Celebrating the views near Maglic high above Trnovacko Lake.

The heart-shaped, emerald-colored Trnovacko Lake provides a great base camp for hiking up Maglic (pronounced Mag-leech), the highest mountain of Bosnia at 2388m (7835 ft) — which we did, of course. From the summit we had a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and canyons, including the neighboring Durmitor mountains to the south (our next destination).

Trnovacko, Montenegro

Sharing some Bosnian Blatina wine at Trnovacko Lake. Gotta love the cheesy cheers selfies!

It was a fantastic first outing here; our expectations were blown away and we were filled with excitement for further adventures in other beautiful ranges along the Dinaric Alps, which I will be posting about soon.

P.S. – When I am back home I will update this and the following posts with lots more photos, but in the meantime I’ll keep posting these teasers to keep the blog somewhat up to date! (We’ve been doing so much here, I already have a backlog!)

P.S.S. – To any Bosnian or Montenegran readers, I apologize for omitting the proper special characters from some of the names and words; I just can’t get those to display properly in WordPress right now!

To the Balkans!

Europe,Kotor,Montenegro
Kotor Evening : Prints Available

Evening over the town of Kotor and the Boka Kotorska, a fjord off the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro.

Tomorrow we fly to Sarajevo for a month of traveling through Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Croatia! I have visited this beautiful region before back in 2004, and have longed to return ever since. Our rough plan is to rent a car in Sarajevo and head south into Montenegro where we will hike and backpack in various mountain ranges down through the rugged chain of the Dinaric Alps. Perhaps we will also have a chance to raft down the Tara River, a turquoise river that cuts through the deepest canyon in Europe. Eventually we’ll work our way back up along the coast and through Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, before heading up to Germany for my sister-in-law’s wedding!

I’ll probably update the blog while I’m away, but in the meantime check out my photos from my previous travels in Montenegro and Croatia back in 2004.

Rockin Fourth in Ouray

4th of July,Colorado,Ouray,San Juan Mountains,fireworks
Fourth of July in Ouray : Prints Available

The town of Ouray, Colorado rockin on the Fourth of July.  Ouray is one of the most unique places in the world to watch fireworks; each boom echoes around the mountains.  The sounds of the echoes are just as awesome as the fireworks themselves!

I hope all my fellow American readers had a great 4th of July! Ouray was as rockin as ever — almost literally after the parade when Maj. Rasmussen, a fighter pilot from Ouray, roared through the valley in his F-16 on full afterburners. Incredible! Turn up the volume and check out this video of it:

Beer, water fights, beer, barbeques, more beer, and then we sweated out all that beer with a wine hike up to our favorite terrace over Ouray to watch the fireworks. What a day!!!

“Moving Mountains” 2016 Calendar Published in Germany

Weingarten 2016 calendar
“Reinhold Messner, Moving Mountains” 2016 calendar featuring photos by Jack Brauer.

I was pleased today to receive a package of calendars compliments of Weingarten, a major German calendar publishing company. They have published a 2016 calendar in Europe featuring 12 of my photos alongside inspirational quotes by the famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner.

Maybe someday in the not-too-distant future I will even be able to read those quotes on my own without my wife’s translation help! But they sound nice, and I’m stoked that my photos were chosen to accompany the words of such a legendary mountain man. The printing quality of the large-format calendar is impressive, with an elegant design and an attractive glossy finish over the photos. Danke schön, Weingarten!

Seek Outside Exposure: The Ultimate Panel Loader Backpack for Backpacking Photographers

Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado
Seek Outside Unaweep-Exposure panel loader backpack up by Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

I have a knack for spotting good backpacks. Just by looking at pictures I can usually tell if a backpack is going to be a good heavy hauler or not. So when I stumbled upon Seek Outside’s website and studied the pictures of their backpacks, I was practically salivating — they just looked good. Really good. And they’re based in western Colorado, an extra bonus.

So I emailed them asking if they’d consider custom making a panel loader for me. I’ve written about panel loader backpacks before and why they are the best type of backpacks for hiking photographers. Panel loader backpacks have a big zipper that wraps around the backpack, enabling easy access to the main compartment. A photographer can place his or her padded camera case inside and have quick access to it, rather than having to dig down through the top like most backpacking backpacks. And unlike most photography-specific backpacks which fail miserably for serious hikers in the ergonomics department, a backpack from a real outdoors company will almost always perform much better on long hikes and backpack treks.

Well, I heard back from Seek Outside and was delighted to discover that not only are they based in Ouray, the same town I live in, but I also already knew the owner Kevin Timm! Why I didn’t realize all this before I cannot say; I must have been hiding under a rock (which is kind what living in Ouray is like, come to think about it!) I was also delighted to hear that Kevin had already been thinking about producing a panel loader and was eager to hear some of my input. The end result is the Seek Outside Unaweep-Exposure panel loader backpack, a lightweight heavy-hauler and quite possibly the ultimate backpack for the backpacking photographer! Read on to find out why I am so enamored with this backpack. Continue reading “Seek Outside Exposure: The Ultimate Panel Loader Backpack for Backpacking Photographers”

Cosmic Sneffels, Take 2

Colorado,Mt. Sneffels,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range,stars, Milky Way, galaxy
Cosmic Sneffels : Prints Available

Mt. Sneffels in the Milky Way on a new moon night in June. The green color behind Sneffels is airglow, a common phenomenon of natural chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

On Wednesday I hiked up towards Mt. Sneffels to attempt a redo of a similar photo I took two years back, this year with a white, dust-free snowpack. I also came equipped with a brighter lens that’s better suited for night photography, so the details of the Milky Way are rendered much clearer in this photo than before.

The last two times I’ve visited this spot I camped with a tent, but on Wednesday I opted to travel lighter and go for an all-night hike instead. I reached my summit at 7pm, watched the sunset, and relaxed up there bundled up in warm clothes until finally the Milky Way was positioned directly above Sneffels at around 1am. I continued shooting until about 2:30am, then made my way back down in the dark, reaching the trailhead at sunrise! Sleep can wait…

Page 1 of 6012345...10203040...Last »