High Above Ouray

Colorado, Ouray, San Juan Mountains, panorama, sunset
Ouray Sunset Panorama : Prints Available

A spectacular sunset over Ouray, Colorado. The ‘Amphitheater’ is prominent on the right side, with Highway 550 – the ‘Million Dollar Highway’ – below leading eventually to Silverton.

Last night I camped up on a high ridgeline in the San Juan Mountains about 4,000 feet above Ouray, Colorado, and enjoyed a fantastic sunset and sunrise from my airy perch. Continue reading >>

Summer Green in the San Juans

Colorado, Engineer Mountain, San Juan Mountains, sunrise
Sunrise on Engineer Mountain : Prints Available

Sunrise on Engineer Mountain (12,968 ft.).

After the enormous winter of 2018-2019 in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, by the end of July the snowpack has finally melted off enough to call it summertime in the alpine now. Last weekend we hiked a very pleasant three-day shuttle route through the vibrant green mountains west of Silverton. Continue reading >>

Mosquito Warfare in the High Uintas, Utah

Bear River, High Uintas Wilderness, McPheters Lake, Middle Basin, Mount Agassiz, Stillwater Fork, Uintas, Utah
Mount Agassiz Reflection : Prints Available

Dramatic clouds over Mount Agassiz (12,428 ft.) in the High Uintas Wilderness in Utah.

In late July we backpacked into the High Uintas Wilderness in Utah, to a couple high basins at the head of the Stillwater Fork of the Bear River. We had optimistically planned a three-night outing, but the mosquitos were so abominable up there that we bailed after two nights! Though we had expected the mosquitos, we didn’t quite comprehend what a struggle it would be with clouds of hundreds or thousands of the vampire drones swarming around us at all times. Despite the relentless mosquito warfare, we still managed to enjoy some amazing scenery up in the high basins with their many lakes and ponds. Continue reading >>

Classic Colorado

Colorado, Mears Peak, San Juan Mountains, Sneffels Range, aspens, lupine, rainbow, wildflowers
Mears Peak Rainbow : Prints Available

A rainbow shines in front of Mears Peak as rain showers pass over the Sneffels Range, Colorado.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak
Wetterhorn Breaking Storm : Prints Available

Clouds swirl off of Wetterhorn Peak after an intense thunderstorm.

Here are some photos from a few recent hiking and backpacking trips in the San Juan Mountains near Ridgway and Ouray. The snow is still melting up high but the lower elevations have been glorious this last month! See more recent photos here >>

Happy 4th of July from Ouray!

4th of July, Colorado, Ouray, San Juan Mountains, fireworks, Mount Abrams
Fireworks Over Ouray : Prints Available

4th of July fireworks over the town of Ouray with Mount Abrams behind. San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

4th of July, Colorado, Ouray, San Juan Mountains, fireworks, Milky Way
Ouray Cosmic Fireworks : Prints Available

4th of July fireworks in Ouray, Colorado, with the Milky Way galaxy above. To create this photo I first photographed the fireworks then left the camera in the same exact position for about an hour after dusk then photographed the stars, and combined the two photos.

For my fellow American readers, I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July! Here’s a few photos of the fireworks over Ouray last night.

One thing I’m feeling pretty patriotic about is our kick-ass U.S. women’s soccer team about to play the Netherlands team in the World Cup finals on Sunday! It’s been so fun watching the tournament so far.

My Backpacking Gear (Updated 2019)

Originally published October 2012. Last updated in July 2019 with lots of new gear selections and a new section on sun protection. Many of the product links are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something after clicking one of my gear links, I will get a small cut of the payment and it won’t cost you anything more.

Mountain goats, Weminuche Wilderness, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, tent

Mountains goats check out our campsite in the Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado.

Backpacking into the mountains is a great joy of mine. It feels adventurous and liberating to venture into the wilderness with everything you need to survive (and even stay comfortable) on your back. By backpacking you have the means to “live” – albeit briefly – in paradisiacal locations that boggle the mind and soothe the soul. But, first you need to have the gear to do it.

As Terence McKenna observed, humans are probably better categorized as crustaceans, since we basically live our lives moving from one shell to another, whether it’s a house, car, office, or a tent. Which is to say, we can’t just wander off naked into the woods and expect to be one with nature! Fortunately for the modern adventurous crustacean we have an almost endless array of high tech, lightweight clothes, sleeping bags, shelters, and tools to keep us alive and happy while walking in the wilderness.

Recently I’ve received a bunch of emails asking me about my backpacking gear. I realize that it can be a bit daunting for someone who is interested – but not experienced – in backpacking to figure out what equipment they need to bring into the mountains for an overnight or multi-day camping trip. You need to travel light, but you also need all the stuff to keep you warm and dry. In this post, I’m going to list and explain all the gear that I use on backpacking treks. I will also include some helpful tips along the way.

Continue reading “My Backpacking Gear (Updated 2019)”

Through and Around the Great Sand Dunes

Colorado, Great Sand Dunes, sunset, San Luis Valley
Peach Dunes Sunset : Prints Available

Sunset over the San Luis Valley as seen from the northern Great Sand Dunes, Colorado.

Colorado, Great Sand Dunes, ponderosa pine, sunset, Sangre de Cristos
Ponderosa Dunes Sunset : Prints Available

Ponderosa pine and sunset light on the Sangre de Cristo mountains above the Great Sand Dunes.

Eager to go backpacking while the mountains are still filled with snow, in early June we returned to the Great Sand Dunes in southern Colorado to trek for three days all the way through the dunefield then back around them. This was a variation of the same trek I’ve done twice before, but this time we went clockwise and camped in the dunes the first night and in the foothills above the dunes the second night. Continue reading >>

2019 Spring Skiing in the San Juans

Colorado, Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Sneffels Range, skiing

Claudia Brauer skis below Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado – June.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may wonder if I’ve given up on snowboarding since I haven’t posted hardly any ski/snowboard photos this winter. Well, while I haven’t been posting much, I have been out on the snow a lot this season, especially this spring! Continue reading >>

Starlight on Sneffels

Colorado, Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Sneffels Range, summit, Milky Way, Telluride
Sneffels Starlight : Prints Available

The Milky Way as seen from the 14,150 ft. summit of Mt. Sneffels in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The clouds are illuminated by the lights of Telluride, and the horizon glow is from Durango.

The winter of 2018-2019 in the San Juan Mountains has been one for the records books, with about 600% of average snowpack at the start of June. With all this beautiful snow in the mountains this spring, lately I’ve been having some hairbrained photo mission ideas – one of which was to hike up Mt. Sneffels in the dark to take some star photos from the summit. With no moon and a decently clear weather forecast I figured this last Friday night was my opportunity. I’ve hiked up Sneffels several times before via moonlight, but this was my first time with just starlight and a headlamp! See more photos >>