Buckskin Gulch/Paria River Backpack

Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Utah, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, hiking

Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Utah

With 15 miles of continuous narrows, Buckskin Gulch in southern Utah is renowned as the longest slot canyon in the world. Buckskin flows into the even longer Paria Canyon and hiking through both these canyons forms a famous backpacking trip showcased in numerous guidebooks and coffee table books, requiring permits reserved months in advance. Twice before we’ve had permits but had to cancel last minute due to rainy forecasts and potential flash flood danger. This April we had permits for a third time and the weather forecast was nice and sunny, allowing us to finally experience these amazing canyons. Hiking through Buckskin and Paria is an unforgettable experience, like a sacred journey into the heart of the Earth. Continue reading >>

Narrowing Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Utah, Willis Creek, hiking

Light at the end of the tunnel in Willis Creek, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.

In mid April we hit the road again for more desert time, and spent a week camping and hiking through various narrows and slot canyons in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in central southern Utah. This has long been one of my very favorite parts of Utah and I was happy to return and check out a bunch of canyons new to me. This was also the first time I’ve returned since the monument size was controversially reduced by 46% last year, and I have a few words to say about that below along with the usual trip report. Continue reading >>

Backpacking in the Superstition Mountains, Arizona

Arizona, Superstition Mountains, Superstition Wilderness, tent

‘Stonehenge’ campsite surrounded by rocky pinnacles in the Superstition Wilderness. Though it looks kind of like sunset, the clouds are actually illuminated by the light of Phoenix.


After our time in the Kofa Mountains in March, we drove east through Phoenix and immediately embarked on a two-night backpack trip through part of the Superstition Mountains. We hiked a clockwise loop from the Peralta Trailhead around the prominent Weavers Needle spire via the Peralta and Dutchman’s Trails. I imagine that this popular route is probably often done in a day by trailrunners, but as usual we wanted to savor the scenery so we camped two nights along the way. Continue reading >>

Eclipsed by Clouds

Colorado, Elk Mountains, moonlight, tent, Little Italian Pass, January

Winter camp below Little Italian Pass in the Elk Mountains, Colorado – January.

On the last morning of January there was a lunar eclipse over much of western North America; here in Colorado the eclipse happened right at moonset, just before dawn and sunrise. This was a perfect scenario for us photographers, since photographing the eclipsed moon near the horizon is far more interesting than when it’s high in the sky. With this rare celestial lineup I had an ambitious plan to hike up to a 13,000-ft ridge to hopefully shoot the eclipse right behind Castle Peak in the Elk Mountains.

My friend Ann Driggers joined me and we backpacked into the mountains and set up a base camp in the snow at 11,600 ft. At 2:30 in the morning we woke up and hiked in the moonlight up a pass and along a long windswept ridge to 13,000 feet, only to have our hopes dashed by a thick layer of clouds blocking any potential for the dream shot I had in mind. Not only that but the brutal wind grew worse with sideways blowing snow, so we had little choice but to retreat and navigate back down via GPS.

Of course I was sorely disappointed to miss this rare photo opportunity that I had envisioned, but at least we put in a valiant effort!

Salt Creek, Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park, Peakaboo, Salt Creek, Utah, pictographs, November
Peakaboo Pictographs : Prints Available

Ancient Puebloan pictographs from around 1,000-1,300 AD. It’s hard to see in this photo, but underneath these pictographs are older reddish figures dating from 1,000-3,000 BC!

In early November a friend and I backpacked about 30 miles through Salt Creek and the Peakaboo Trail in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah. This canyon is renowned for its numerous Ancient Puebloan ruins and pictographs; in fact I’ve never seen so many ruins outside of the Cedar Mesa area!

>> See more photos and leave a comment here! <<

Camping in the Black Canyon

Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Warner Route, October
Warner Dusk : Prints Available

Post-sunset glow on the walls of the Black Canyon, Colorado, as seen from the bottom of the Warner Route.

In late October my buddy Kevin and I hiked down the Warner Route and camped along the Gunnison River at the bottom of the Black Canyon for a night. We brought our fishing rods for the “gold metal” water, and it did not disappoint! We caught a bunch of brown trout and kept a few for dinner. Delicious!

Dinner!

I floated and fished the lower Gunnison Gorge with my dad a couple times back in 2007 and 2008; you can see those photos here.

And lots more Black Canyon photos here.

2 Months of Backpacking and Camping in Colorado

For all of August and September 2017, my wife and I lived out of our truck and tent while traveling around and backpacking in our great state of Colorado. We did over a dozen backpacking trips in various mountain ranges throughout the state, including the Flat Tops, Gore Range, Sawatch Range, San Juans, Sangre de Cristos, and Indian Peaks. I’ve posted my various photo journals from each trek on the Trip Reports page of my gallery site; here links to all those journals, in chronological order.

You can also see a gallery of all my favorite photos from the 2 months here!

Colorado, Flat Tops, columbine, wildflowers
Flat Tops Wilderness – July

In late July we did a quick one-nighter backpack trip in the Flat Tops Wilderness of Colorado, from Trappers Lake up towards Trappers Peak. We camped near one of hundreds of lakes that dot the high alpine plateau and enjoyed a sunset at the top of Trappers Peak.

» See the photos here «

Colorado, Gore Range, Peak C, Eagles Nest Wilderness
Mount Powell, Gore Range – August

In early August we backpacked into the rugged north end of the Gore Range and Eagles Nest Wilderness for three nights. We hiked the Upper Piney River Trail for while, branched off on a faint boot trail then camped the first night in the high basin below Mount Powell and Kneeknocker Pass. On day two we crossed over the pass and hiked to the summit of Mount Powell, the highest peak in the Gore Range. I’ve wanted to hike Mount Powell for about 20 years but never got around to it, so it was quite satisfying to finally stand on the summit! After some rough off trail routefinding we spent the next two nights at a remote alpine lake before hiking all the way back out the way we came.

» See the photos here «

Colorado, Gore Range, Willow Lakes, Eagles Nest Wilderness, reflection, Zodiac Ridge, sunrise
Willow Lakes, Gore Range – August

After our backpack trip in the northern Gore Range, we drove over to the east side and backpacked into the Eagles Nest Wilderness again, this time to Willow Lakes. I’d backpacked here 12 years ago and I was excited to show Claudia this place and hopefully to photographic some nice light too! We spent a couple nights up there, generally relaxing and exploring this beautiful basin. I was fortunate to photograph some of the best sunrise light of the summer here!

» See the photos here «

Colorado, Holy Cross Wilderness, Sawatch Range, reflection
Exploring the Holy Cross Wilderness, Sawatch Range – August

In early August we set out into the Holy Cross Wilderness (in the Sawatch Range of Colorado generally between Vail and Leadville) for a 3-night backpack trek. We spent our first night at the super popular Missouri Lakes then explored an off trail route over a high ridgeline to a remote and pristine lake where we spent the second day and night. We spent our third night near Blodgett Lake before hiking back via Fancy Pass and Holy Cross City, completing an irregular loop through this beautiful wilderness area.

» See the photos here «

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado, Ice Mountain, Lake Ann, Sawatch Range, The Three Apostles
Hanging Around Huron Peak, Sawatch Range – August

In mid-August we backpacked around the headwaters of the South Fork Clear Creek near Huron Peak in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness and Sawatch Range of Colorado. The last time I hiked in this area was back in 2008, but this time we hiked the long way in here from the south from Taylor Park and Texas Creek, via the Continental Divide Trail and a high pass above Lake Ann. Though we spent three days out here, most of my photos below were from one fantastic evening watching sunset atop an unnamed peak above Lake Ann.

» See the photos here «

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Sunshine Peak, 14er
Tour Through the San Juans – August

After spending my birthday with some friends in Ouray, we drove up some of the jeep roads above Red Mountain Pass and car camped a few nights up there. We drove rough high elevation old mining roads eastward through the San Juans over Corkscrew Pass, Hurricane Pass, California Pass, and Cinnamon Pass, then did a one night backpack trip into Cataract Gulch near the 14er Sunshine Peak.

» See the photos here «

Colorado, Ellingwood Point, Sangre de Cristos, South Zapata Lake, reflection, 14er, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness
South Zapata Lake, Sangre de Cristo Range – August

A quick one-night backpacking trip to South Zapata Lake on the west side of the Sangre de Cristo Range

» See the photos here «

Colorado, Great Sand Dunes, wildflowers, sunflowers, sunset
Sunflowers in the Great Sand Dunes – August

While hiking to South Zapata Lake the day before, we got a good view of the Great Sand Dunes, and I could see vast fields of sunflowers all around and in the dunes. I took a mental note of where the largest sunflower fields were and the next day we hiked into the dunes towards these areas. Though we intended to camp in the dunes for the night, enormous thunderclouds rolled in and scared us out of there! Fortunately I was able to photograph the sunflowers without getting struck by lightning!

» See the photos here «

Broken Hand Peak, Colorado, Crestone Needle, Sangre de Cristos, 14er, sunrise, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness
South Colony Lakes, Sangre de Cristo Range – September

In late August/early September, we spent five days camped at South Colony Lakes in the Sangre de Cristo range in Colorado. Surrounded by three 14ers, including the rugged Crestone Needle towering directly overhead, this basin is supremely awesome — one of the classic gems of Colorado. During our stay here we summited Crestone Needle and Humboldt Peak, along with lots of chilling out around the lake in between.

» See the photos here «

Colorado, Mount Elbert, Mount Massive Wilderness, North Halfmoon Lakes, Sawatch Range, 14er
Below Mount Massive, Sawatch Range – September

In early September we spent a night up at North Halfmoon Lakes below Mount Massive. Though our plans to hike the peak were thwarted by high winds and hazy skies from the wildfires in the northwestern US, we still enjoyed an evening and morning at the lake.

» See the photos here «

Colorado, Gore Lake, Gore Range, Eagles Nest Wilderness
Gore Lake, Gore Range – September

In mid September we returned to the Gore Range again, this time spending a night at the beautiful Gore Lake towards the south end of the range.

» See the photos here «

Colorado, Indian Peaks, sunset, reflection
Indian Peaks Wilderness – September

From the Gore Range we drove further north to Indian Peaks, were we backpacked to a remote and beautiful basin where we spent two nights. Indian Peaks was where I did most of my first backpacking trips back in my college days at CU Boulder, and I quickly became a backpacking fanatic after that! It’s been over a decade since I’ve returned, and it felt like seeing an old friend again.

» See the photos here «

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, elk, Moraine Park
Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park – September

After our backpacking trip in Indian Peaks it was about time for a rest, so we spent a few nights camping at the Moraine Park campground in Rocky Mountain National Park. I must say it was quite magical to fall asleep each night listening to the elk bugling in the big meadow below us during their autumn rut.

» See the photos here «

Colorado, Indian Peaks, Lone Eagle Peak, Indian Peaks Wilderness
Lone Eagle Peak, Indian Peaks – September

In late September with a forecast for a quick but powerful autumn snowstorm, we returned to Indian Peaks to one of my favorite spots – Mirror Lake and its incredible view of Lone Eagle Peak. After spending the night in an intense blizzard we awoke to bluebird skies and a glorious snow-smothered scene. This was our final backpacking trip of our two months on the road in Colorado, and it was fitting that my favorite photo of the whole trip came that morning!

» See the photos here «

Green River, Utah
Escape to the Desert, Green River, Utah – September

After some our snowy backpacking trip in Indian Peaks, Claudia had had enough of the cold, so we escaped to the desert of Utah for dry land and warmer weather. We spent a couple nights relaxing and hiking at one of our favorite spots on a remote plateau high above the Green River, then spent a night at Swaseys Beach just north of the town of Green River. This was a relaxing end to our two months on the road!

» See the photos here «

Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Cedar Point, moonlight, Gunnison River
Black Canyon – September

On the way back home from Utah we spent one last night camping at the South Rim of the Black Canyon. The next day we drove back to Crested Butte and started moving back into our condo, and our big summer trip was official over.

Over the Dachstein, Austria

Adamek-Hütte, Austria, Dachstein, Große-Bischofsmütze, hut
Adamek-Hütte : Prints Available

The Adamek-Hütte high in the Dachstein range of Austria.

Austria, Dachstein, Hallstätter Gletscher, wildflowers, sunrise, glacier, rainbow
Hoher Dachstein Sunrise : Prints Available

A gorgeous sunrise and rainbow above Hoher Dachstein (2995 m / 9826 ft) and the Hallstätter Glacier, as seen from near the Simony Hütte.

Austria, Dachstein, Hallstatt, reflection
Hallstadt Reflection : Prints Available

The world famous lakeside town of Hallstatt, Austria.

The final destination of our three-week northern limestone Alps tour in July was the Dachstein mountain range of Austria. Starting from near the Südwandhütte, above the lovely village of Ramsau on the south side of the range, we hiked for three days around and over the Dachstein to the famous village of Hallstatt on the north side, via the Hofpürglhütte, Adamek-Hütte, and Simony Hütte.

>> See the whole trip report and leave a comment here! <<

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