Lightning Overdose at Blue Lakes

Blue Lakes and Mt. Sneffels

On Saturday I went on a quick overnight backpacking trip to Blue Lakes, under Mt. Sneffels. I’ve been to Blue Lakes before in May, with the peaks and lake smothered in snow, and I’ve been there in the summer, with the wildflower fields and lush green tundra. But I’ve never been there in September, and I was amazed at the beauty of the multicolored autumn tundra.

It was also great to get back up into the San Juans again after my last few weeks of laziness (and after my six weeks abroad before that). There’s something indescribable about these mountains that I just love so much. It’s hard to put my thumb on any one thing, it’s more just a feeling I get when I’m here. Perhaps I’ll try to explain this in some future rambling post.

Lightning in Colorado

After a fun evening of photography, I was then treated to an freakish all-night-long thunderstorm. The photo above is a stacked exposure of six shots, taken during five minutes at sunset. This same storm moved up into the mountains around my camp soon afterwards; imagine the nearly constant bolts like in this photo, but all around me in the high mountain basin! I didn’t sleep hardly a wink, but it certainly made for a memorable night!

>>See my photos and read more about the trip here.<<

Norway Gallery is Live!

Norway Mountain Photos

After an eternity waiting for my film to come back from the lab, and another eternity of scanning and processing the best shots, I’ve finally posted my gallery of Norway photos!

In the two weeks since I’ve been back home from Norway, I’ve taken the dive head-first back into work-mode, including the fun but tedious process of sorting and sifting through the thousands of photos I brought home. Believe it or not, getting back to work on the computer hasn’t been all that bad; in fact it’s been almost a welcome change after six weeks of pushing it in the mountains of Norway. I think I got my fill of hiking for while; in fact I haven’t even been hiking yet since I’ve been back in Colorado! No, so far I’ve been perfectly content to just be lazy and hang out with my friends again as much as possible.

Though I did a lot of hiking in Norway, I also had a lot of downtime, whether tentbound in the rain or driving endless hours on winding roads. The hiking and photography were no doubt amazing, but I often felt an overwhelming boredom and loneliness during those downtimes. Sometimes I felt like the trip was characterized more by the boredom and solitude than the joy of hiking and photographing the mountains there.

A funny thing has happened though, since I’ve been back. In my mind, all those stretches of boredom have been condensed into minor moments, while all the spectacular hikes and mountains and vistas I experienced are standing out as shining unforgettable memories. In fact now I can’t believe I did all the things I did while I was there. This might have been my best photo trip ever… in retrospect! As a good friend of mine has said, “Memories are like a fine wine; they just get better with age.”

As for the photography itself, I can say that Norway is one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever been. Not only are the mountains incredibly unique and full of character, but the weather was usually very dynamic. And of course the 24-hour light and long sunsets/sunrises are an absolute blast for hiking and photography. My photographic style already tends to heavily favor the “grand scenics” – the big landscape shots – and Norway offers more of that than I could handle. So you won’t see any artsy “intimates” in my gallery… I was too busy trying to fit the landscapes into my wideangle lenses!

Ok, enough rambling, check out my photos from Norway!

Wrap it Up

Oslo at night

I am back in Oslo, just hanging out for a few days waiting for my flight back to Colorado. It’s been amazing to fulfill my dream of seeing the mountains and fjords of Norway, but now I am really excited to get back home, see my friends and family again, and go through all my photos from the trip. I’ll be awaiting my film from the photo lab like a kid on Christmas morning!

During my six Norwegian weeks, I took about 150 large format 4×5 photos, and about 48gb worth of digital photos with the Olympus E620. It will probably take me 2-3 weeks to go through all these and get them scanned, processed, and posted on my website.

I ended up driving from Gøteborg, Sweden as far north as Tromsø, Norway, and back again, with lots of side trips along the way, for a grand total of about 8600km (~5300 miles)! This is roughly the equivalent (according to Google Maps) of driving from Denver to Juneau and back, or from San Diego to Miami and back! A lot of driving.

So now all that’s left is one last evening in Oslo, then 20+ hours of sitting in three different airplanes and airports, then I’ll finally be back home! Can’t wait!


Top of Trollveggen

After my quick trip in Jotunheimen, I had a few days of decent weather forecast to spend, so I decided to backtrack and return to the Romsdalen valley near Andalsnes, possibly my favorite place in Norway. Yesterday morning I hiked to the top of Trollstinden, the huge mountain whose east face is the famous Trollveggen (“Troll Wall”), the largest vertical mountain wall in Europe. The west side of the mountain is hikable, but when you get to the ridgeline at the top, you stare straight off into an abyss of almost 6,000 vertical feet! The actual famous Trollveggen face is just on the other side of the pinnacle in the photo above, and it drops down 1000m (3300 ft.) sheer vertically – actually a bit overhanging even in parts.

Peering over the edge of this enormous cliff was spinetingling, and I could only do it for a few seconds before jumping back and shaking my nerves out. It didn’t help either that there was a hammering wind blowing off the ridgeline. I had the urge to huck a big rock over the edge, but I’m old enough to know that that’s a really stupid idea so I resisted the tempation. Taking photos from the top was a bit precarious; I’d bend my tripod over the edge, compose the shot with the camera’s live view, then reach out quickly and hit the shutter, then jump back again to safety. The mountain wall is so gigantic that I could barely fit the whole thing in the frame, even with my super wideangle lens at 7mm (14mm equiv).

Anyhow, the view off the top is of course utterly awesome. I tried to get up there for the sunrise, but the cloudy skies nixed that idea. I want a sunrise shot from up there so badly that I am going to wait here in Andalsnes for several days to try it again in better light. The forecast calls for rain for the next couple days then a sunny day on Sunday, my last possible day to hike before I have to drive back to Oslo. But the weather forecasts here really suck, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


While I’m at it here’s a photo of the famous Trollstigen (“Troll Road” – are you catching the theme around here?). This unlikely road between Andalsnes and Geiranger is carved into the side of a massive steep cirque, and switchbacks something like 11 times along the way.

On Top of Norway

Galdøpiggen summit hut

Yesterday I hiked up to the top of Galdhøpiggen, the highest peak in Norway at 2469m, in Jotunheimen National Park. My plan was to stay up there until sunset, and I was prepared for a long wait on the summit in the cold wintery conditions. When I got to the summit I was happily surprised to see a hut on top of the mountain! I relaxed in the warm hut for about four hours, chilling out with the friendly hut warden who I think was also glad to have some company. Every once in a while a good cloudbreak would come and I’d run outside to take some photos. Eventually right as the sun was setting the clouds cleared off quite a bit and I was super stoked to get some nice photos of the surrounding vista and glaciers during the sunset!

Not sure where I’m off to next; the weather forecast is thankfully looking a bit better so I may have two more days for some hiking and photos.

Rainy Sunnmøre Alps

Tussenauset hut

The last few days in the Sunnmøre Alps have been a whole lot of rain and not much else. The first two days and nights I spent completely tentbound in the rain, camping near a roadside lake. With a forecast of just more rain, I figured I might as well wait in style so I hiked up to the Tussenauset backcountry cabin, situated near a big alpine lake surrounded by large peaks. I stayed there for two nights, the first I had the cabin all to myself, then a group of friendly locals came up and we had a good time the second night – they kindly shared their beer and homemade liquor with me as we hung out. There was luckily a nice break in the weather during sunset, but that was about it.

Now I’m at Geiranger, one of Norway’s most famous fjords. It is still raining and the forecast is pretty much nothing but rain for the whole next week, a big bummer since it’s my last week here. I was planning on going to Jotunheimen national park, where Norway’s tallest mountains are, and I probably still will, but it could very well be basically a waste of a week. Oh well!



During the two days after leaving northern Norway, I drove 22 hours back down to central Norway. I detoured into Sweden for most of the drive, to take advantage of the flatter, straighter roads. I’m not sure if it saved much time, but I had no desire to retrace the curvy route back down through Norway! Driving south so fast was like time travel into the astronomical future, and for the first time since I’ve been in Norway I saw real nighttime, the moon, and stars!

Anyhow, I arrived at the town of Andalsnes and was happy to be back in the “real” fjord country again! The mountains around Andalsnes are insane. I camped at a great campground in the Romsdalen valley, directly under the Trollveggen, an 1800m (~5500 ft.) vertical wall, which holds the designation as Europe’s tallest vertical rock face. It is impressive to say the least; as you’re standing at the campground you literally have to bend your neck back to see the tops of the peaks. In the photo above (taken with my wideangle 7mm lens) the Romsdalen valley is at the upper left. The campground was really nice too, with secluded grassy areas surrounded by wild raspberry bushes, which I was happy to harvest for myself.

above Andalsnes

During my stay in Romsdal the weather was mostly unsettled, cloudy, and drizzly, and I scored pretty big with the photos, somehow managing to have perfect timing to grab some sweet shots during the few cloudbreaks. I did three hikes around there, and also found some great photo spots in the valley itself. The place is extremely photogenic!

I’m realizing that on this truly “photo-dedicated” trip, my moods seem to be tied up with the photography. When the conditions aren’t good and the photography is slow, I get bored, lonely, and impatient. But when the light is right and I’m being productive, I am so entertained and satisfied! It’s certainly its own breed of “vacation” when just about every move I make is with the photos in mind. But I digress…

I’m now back in Ålesund, and my next move will be to explore the Sunnmøre Alps, which I passed through briefly earlier on the trip, and which I was extremely impressed with then.

Senja and Lyngen Alps

Senja beach

Last week I was pretty much off the radar, traveling around various mountain areas in northern Norway and car camping the whole time.

After leaving the Lofoten islands, I headed to the famous Stetind mountain, a mind-boggling 1400m sheer granite spire of a mountain, and camped a few nights there, scoring a lucky sunset during a break in the rain showers. From this point on, though, I would be plagued by gorgeous warm sunny weather. Great for hanging out; not so great for the photography, or for sleeping in in the tent.

I headed north to Senja, an island that my guidebook said is the only place to rival Lofoten, but less crowded. The way I’d characterize Senja, though, is as a mini-Lofoten – the mountains and fjords all seem a little bit smaller, but still dramatic how they rise sharply from the ocean. I ended up camping at a beautiful beach surrounded by towering peaks. It was a popular place with beautiful weather, and lots of Norwegian families were out enjoying the sand and water, while I just laid out on the sand listening to my iPod.

I only stayed one night there though, then headed to Tromsø, where I did a quick pitstop to load up on food, maps, and also an English book. What a difference it’s been to have a book! Suddenly I’m not so bored during the downtimes. Anyhow, from there I went to the Lyngen Alps east of Tromsø. These mountains are rugged and glaciated, but they lack the unique character that so many other Norwegians peaks have, so after a few days there I bailed and went to the nearby Otertind mountain.

Situated in the Signaldalen valley, Otertind is perhaps Norway’s most beautiful mountain in my opinion, and certainly one of the most beautiful peaks I’ve ever seen. From a certain profile it rises up about 1800m in a perfectly symmetrical curve, leading to dual pyramid summits. Anyhow, I camped a few nights there at a random spot next to a big wide shallow river, and fought the mosquitos, read my book, drank beer, and took photos.

Satisfied with my travels in northern Norway, and looking (and perhaps smelling) pretty rugged by then, I then headed back down south again.