Fiery Aspens

Colorado,Crested Butte,aspens, September
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Fiery reddish-orange aspens brilliantly backlit by the setting sun. Crested Butte, Colorado, September.

I had great fun yesterday with my buddy Dave Showalter tromping around in the forest searching for the craziest aspen colors we could find. We certainly found plenty!

Colorado,Crested Butte,aspens, September
Quaking Fire : Prints Available

Colorful aspens – September.

First Day in Crested Butte

Colorado,Crested Butte, autumn, September

Beginning a new chapter in our life together, Claudia and I have moved from Ouray to Crested Butte! As much as we love Ouray and the San Juans and all our friends there, after much contemplation we decided that we should try living in a bit larger town where Claudia would have more opportunities. I’ve always loved the Crested Butte area and Claudia was really attracted to it as well last time we were here (it’s hard not to be). And it also doesn’t hurt that there are coffee shops and bicycles everywhere!

Although the rental market is tough in Crested Butte (like most ski towns in Colorado), we ended up finding a nice condo up at Mt. Crested Butte which is a sort of condo-village right near the ski resort base area and only about a 5 minute drive from the town proper. From our terrace we have a panoramic view of the actual Mt. Crested Butte, the ski area, and the Elk Mountains! We celebrated our first morning here by hiking up to the top of the Butte to see the lay of the land.

Colorado,Crested Butte, summit, autumn, September

View from the 12,162 ft. summit of Mt. Crested Butte – September. Gothic Mountain is the prominent peak at center-left. To the right are the Elk Mountains; you can see the summits of Snowmass Mountain, the Maroon Bells, and Pyramid Peak sticking up higher than the rest. Our condo building is visible down there on the very left side of the photo.

Mt Crested Butte Summit Pano
A roughly 180º view from the summit of Mt. Crested Butte. The town of Crested Butte is down at the left; the village of Mt. Crested Butte and the ski area base are down in the center.

The aptly named Mt. Crested Butte is indeed a butte with a pointy crested top, rising solo in the center of a broad basin ringed by mountain ranges on almost all sides. From the 12,162 ft. summit you see mountain valleys radiating out in all directions like the spokes of a wheel. There’s a distinct feeling of spaciousness around here; although I’m probably more aware of this having lived in the deep box canyon of Ouray for the last 8 years.

Colorado, Crested Butte, sunset, September

A colorful autumn sunset over Mt. Crested Butte – September.

Packing up our house and leaving Ouray was a tough choice to make but now that we’re here I’m super stoked. We’ll be here at least through May and maybe we stay for good, maybe we go back to Ouray; we’re just playing it by ear and making the most of it wherever we are and wherever we end up.

Sunset Above Ouray

Colorado,Ouray,San Juan Mountains, sunset
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A brilliant sunset high above the town of Ouray and the San Juan Mountains, Colorado – September.

Yesterday evening I was lucky to witness and photograph a fantastic sunset from one of my favorite overlooks of Ouray. This is a seldom visited spot that requires a steep bushwhack and an exposed scramble up crumbly cliffs to get to, but the reward is what I consider one of the best vantage points over the Ouray valley. I’ve been up here probably two or three times before, but never got so lucky with the sunset light!

The next week or so will be our last in Ouray at least for a while, so when I’ve been going on hikes recently and seeing such scenes (like this, and the rainbow last week), I can’t help but feel that the San Juans are smiling upon me, giving me a good sendoff! I know it’s dumb to think that way, but maybe I’m just getting a little sentimental!

Rockin Fourth in Ouray

4th of July,Colorado,Ouray,San Juan Mountains,fireworks
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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!!!

Cosmic Sneffels, Take 2

Colorado,Mt. Sneffels,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range,stars, Milky Way, galaxy
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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…

One Fine June Day

On Wednesday Claudia and I went for a ski in the morning, and a wine hike in the evening!

Mt. Sneffels, Sneffels Range, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, Gilpin Peak, Potosi Peak, June, 14er, panorama

Looking at the south side of the Sneffels Range in early June.  Mt. Sneffels (14,156 ft.) is just about in the center; Gilpin Peak to its left looks bigger from this perspective but only because it’s closer. Potosi Peak is off to the right, and the town of Ouray way down the right side valley.

Ouray, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, panorama, June

Enjoying some wine from a nice vantage point over the town of Ouray (7,792 ft.), San Juan Mountains, Colorado – June.

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