After I left the Great Sand Dunes in the morning on Tuesday, on a whim I headed to nearby Crestone and went backpacking up the North Crestone Trail in the Sangre de Cristo Range. Unlike the San Juans, which are still smothered in snow, the Sangres are almost totally dry already. Although I was planning on camping up at North Crestone Lake, when I finally arrived there [six fairly grueling miles later] I was disappointed to find no suitable spot to camp near the lake. Besides, it was very windy up there… too windy. So I retreated back to the next meadow down where I spotted a nice established camp spot in the forest next to the creek. Exhausted from my lack of sleep the night before in the Dunes, I took a nap, shot the sunset, lit a small campfire for a while, then fell fast asleep in my tent for nearly 12 hours!
The valley where I camped was not particularly photogenic, imo, and the boring blue sky was not inspiring either. After wandering around for a while the most interesting thing that caught my eye was a bunch of dead trees up on the mountainside. So I hiked up there and shot the setting sun beaming through the bare tree skeletons. Certainly not my best photo ever but I like it and I was proud of myself for putting in the effort to find one intriguing scene to shoot when normally I probably would have just not even bothered.
The lower/middle portion of North Crestone Creek is special because the valley is chock-full of aspens. This would be a spectacular hike to do in the fall when the trees are golden yellow!
On Monday I headed to the Great Sand Dunes for a quick overnighter. I hiked in at about 10pm, slept on a dune for about 4 hours, then woke up around 3:30am to shoot the setting (nearly full) moon, followed by sunrise.
I had a blast out there with the camera… so much fun! And the hike out with Pink Floyd Meddle playing on my iPod was pretty groovy too! Here are some photos from the trip.
Yesterday morning Ann Driggers and I set off to hike and ski the big north couloir on Potosi Peak – one of the most aesthetic couloirs in the San Juans, and a line that has been high on my to-do list for many years. With an ample June snowpack, sunny weather, and freezing temps at night, this was a perfect opportunity to get it done! Here is Ann climbing up the steep couloir. Continue reading “Potosi”→
Went up for a little ski tour this morning above Ouray, and was surprised to find the mountains choked with forest fire smoke (on an otherwise blue sky day). A quick Google news search shows that a wildfire is raging in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, which must be where all the smoke blew in from.
Skinning up a steep slope, looking at what would be our second descent route of the day.
Upon arriving at the summit, our north face descent route still needed some time to soften. Instead of waiting around up there, we decided to do a quick run down the east face, which was nice and soft already.
Skier: Ann Driggers. The town of Silverton is located in the valley in the distance.
Having skinned back up the east face, the big north face was now good to go, and so we ended up scoring two nice corn lines today, the last day of May! See some more pics on Ann’s blog.
Skinning up a high ridgeline in the San Juans this morning.
Skier: Chris Cover. The mountains have started getting some sun the last couple days, and the snow is quickly transitioning from powder to corn. Today our slope was well frozen, and the clouds and chilly winds were keeping it that way. So, unfortunately we weren’t able to ski this beauty with the soft conditions I was hoping for, but at least the snow was perfectly smooth so it was still a fun descent.
With heaps of snow and hardly anybody out skiing these days, the “low hanging fruit” abounds in the San Juans. Today we went up the same peak I’ve gone up 2 of the last 3 days. Normally these are the routes we do in the wintertime, so it feels a bit novel to be riding these in late May!
Ninja skier: Paul McElrea.
Perfect cream cheese powder, great for terminal velocity carving.