2 Weeks in Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah

Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Utah, Escalante
Red Swirls : Prints Available

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

In the second half of September we spent two weeks in one of our favorite canyon areas of southern Utah – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. During our first week we hiked through five different slot canyons, some of which were the narrowest slot canyons I’ve ever hiked (or squeezed) through! After that we repeated two of our favorite backpack trips through Coyote Gulch and Death Hollow, each 3-day journeys through magnificent spring fed canyons. See all the photos here >>

Wind River Range West Side Trek

Bridger Wilderness, Dragon Head Peak, Mount Bonneville, Nylon Peak, Pronghorn Peak, Wind River Range, Wyoming
Blue Symmetry : Prints Available

Jagged peaks of the central Wind River Range reflect in a remote, high lake.

In early September I backpacked for 10 days in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. This was my fourth long backpack trip in these fantastic mountains, but this time I did a one-way shuttle trek along the western side of the range through the Bridger Wilderness starting from the Elkhart Park trailhead and ending at Big Sandy to the south. Along the way I was able to visit a number of remote basins that I’ve been wanting to see for many years, but are generally a bit too difficult to get to with a standard loop or out-and-back trip. Continue reading >>

Smoky Reflections

Colorado, Needle Mountains, Pigeon Peak, San Juan Mountains, Turret Peak, Weminuche Wilderness, reflection
Smoky Needles Reflection : Prints Available

A smoky sunset on a warm August evening in the Weminuche Wilderness. The Needle Mountains show through the haze.

It’s been a beautiful summer in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado this year, with a long-melting snowpack, fantastic sunsets, lush greenery, and none of the wildfires and smoke that plagued us during last year’s super dry summer. So while we were camping near a remote lake in the Weminuche Wilderness last week, we were surprised when it got hazy and we started smelling wildfire smoke in the air. My fears of another devastating wildfire were relieved when I found out later on that it was just smoke from a large prescribed burn on the west side of the San Juans. Whew!

While the smoke robbed me of the typically crystal clear scenes, it did provide unique photographic conditions with the hazy light and soft pastel colors at sunset.

Colorado, Needle Mountains, Pigeon Peak, San Juan Mountains, Turret Peak, Weminuche Wilderness, reflection
Smoky Needles Dusk : Prints Available

Sunset light on Pigeon and Turret Peaks as seen from a remote lake in the Weminuche Wilderness.

By morning the haze had cleared and interesting cotton candy clouds motivated me to get out my cozy sleeping bag to go shoot sunrise too!

Colorado, Needle Mountains, Pigeon Peak, San Juan Mountains, Turret Peak, Weminuche Wilderness, reflection
Cotton Candy Sunrise Reflection : Prints Available

Cotton candy clouds at sunrise above the Needle Mountains.

Roaming the Uncompahgre

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Basin, Wetterhorn Peak, wildflowers
Wetterhorn in Candyland : Prints Available

Rich sunset light on Wetterhorn Peak (14,015 ft.) amidst a glorious field of Indian Paintbrush wildflowers. San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

Colorado, Dragonsback, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness
Dragon Dusk : Prints Available

A long 20-second exposure captured the dusk glow on a rugged volcanic spire in the Uncompahgre Wilderness. San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

During the first two weeks of August I revisited several of my favorite backpacking treks in the Uncompahgre Wilderness in the northern San Juan Mountains of Colorado, for a total of 8 days of hiking through a good portion of the wilderness. See all the photos here >>

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 >>

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 >>

Explorations in the Mojave Desert

Nevada, Pinto Valley Wilderness, rainbow, Mojave Desert, Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Rainbow Over Pinto Valley : Prints Available

A spectacular double rainbow over the Pinto Valley in the Pinto Valley Wilderness of Nevada.

As is usual in late winter, Claudia and I have been itching for some desert hiking and backpacking time, so this March we spent three weeks camping and backpacking in various mountain ranges and wilderness areas in the Mojave Desert in Nevada, California, and Arizona.

There are many wild, rugged, and seldom-visited mountain ranges in the Mojave, making it a prime area for exploratory missions. I appreciate that there are still places like this out there where we can explore on our own with little to no guiding information, and find little or no evidence of previous human visitation when we’re there. Continue reading >>