It’s been feeling a lot like mid-winter around Ouray lately, as a series of snowstorms passes through leaving everything smothered in powdery goodness! Keep it coming, please!
Last night I pulled my splitboard out of the attic in anticipation of the first turns of winter. As we drove up the pass this morning everything was covered in frosty snow… what a glorious morning! I had to pull over and take a snapshot of the frosty aspens.
The snowpack looking a bit dubious on this southern slope on the way up.
Fortunately the north facing slopes were filled in with powder and looking good! Here’s Jeff getting in the groove. We just did one line but damn it was satisfying! I’m hoping for a good winter this season here in the San Juans after the last two crappy ones…
Hungry for an adventure, on Tuesday I hiked up to Blue Lakes in the Sneffels Range to camp out in the snow. Late autumn can be a good time for winter camping – kind of like “diet” winter camping since there’s less snow to deal with and usually less avalanche danger (*depending, of course). Also, road access to most trailheads is still possible, and if you time it right the alpine lakes aren’t frozen yet which can offer some nice photo opportunities.
The weather forecast called for a brief but intense snowstorm, with little or no wind! Perfect time to head out into the mountains. Sure enough, in the late afternoon just as I was setting up the tent the storm clouds rolled into the mountains and it started snowing in earnest. I fell asleep to the sound of snowflakes falling on the tent, cozy in my puffy down cocoon. In the middle of the night, around 2:30am, I woke up and saw moonlight shining on the tent. I poked my head out and saw a dreamlike scene as the storm clouds were lifting off the peaks and the fresh snow glistened in the moonlight. Of course I jumped out of the tent as fast as I could to photograph the moment!
Though the clouds still covered the peaks in the morning, eventually they gave way to crystal clear blue skies.
Compared to summer backpacking when you can lay in the meadows and let yourself melt into the scenery, winter camping feels more like being an astronaut. It’s clear that you don’t belong there, and your survival is dependent on the gear you’ve brought with you. Everything is more difficult in the cold and snow – getting water and keeping it from freezing, cooking, keeping your stuff dry, putting your boots on, even just moving around! Add to that a lingering apprehension that if one little thing should go wrong your survival (or at least basic comfort) could be in jeopardy. For those reasons, winter camping is more about the challenge of being out there rather than the pleasure of being out there!
One night in the snow proved to be enough adventure for me and by the second afternoon the thoughts of Claudia and our warm house proved irresistible so I packed up and hiked out. I think it’s time to flee to the desert to find some warmer adventures!
I have just updated my trip report from our trek in the Pyrenees with newly processed photos. This was our final trek of our European travels this last summer, and thus the last new photos I have to post from Europe.
Our trek through the Pyrenees was cut short by an unfortunate injury, and so I hope to return someday to see many parts of the range that we missed. And concerning the Alps and Europe in general, there are so many mountains there to see I feel like we only scratched the surface during our two months of trekking there. We could spend many many summers there before really getting a solid grasp on that mighty mountain range, and hopefully we’ll get the chance to do so in the future.
Here’s “The Shot” I spoke about from the magical sunset we witnessed during our trek through the Rosengarten in the Dolomites in Italy back in August. It was such a sublime moment – truly one the most memorable and spectacular events I’ve witnessed in nature. If this photo conveys just a fraction of the true life experience, then I’m happy with it!
By the way, I’ve updated the original Rosengarten trip report, including this and other new photos. Check it out.
I’ve just posted some new landscape photos taken during the first half of our time in the Dolomites this summer, near Sexten and Cortina mainly around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, an impressive cluster of vertical peaks that look like rock knives thrust up from inside the earth. Despite my best efforts, the rainy overcast weather during that week offered precious few photo opportunities. Nevertheless, I did manage to grab a couple nice photos before and after the storm! See the full updated trip report here.
4th of July, I mean, Oktoberfest! Just like last year, Ouray had leftover fireworks since the 4th of July show was cancelled due to fire danger, so they shot them off for the Oktoberfest party instead.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no place like Ouray to watch (or listen to) fireworks! The booming echoes that reverberate around the mountain walls are incomparable.
Compare this photo with my shot of the fireworks last year, taken from the same perspective but much, much higher up!
Here’s a few photos from a quick drive and hike up Camp Bird Road above Ouray yesterday. So beautiful around here lately…