I had great fun yesterday with my buddy Dave Showalter tromping around in the forest searching for the craziest aspen colors we could find. We certainly found plenty!
Beginning a new chapter in our life together, Claudia and I have moved from Ouray to Crested Butte! As much as we love Ouray and the San Juans and all our friends there, after much contemplation we decided that we should try living in a bit larger town where Claudia would have more opportunities. I’ve always loved the Crested Butte area and Claudia was really attracted to it as well last time we were here (it’s hard not to be). And it also doesn’t hurt that there are coffee shops and bicycles everywhere!
Although the rental market is tough in Crested Butte (like most ski towns in Colorado), we ended up finding a nice condo up at Mt. Crested Butte which is a sort of condo-village right near the ski resort base area and only about a 5 minute drive from the town proper. From our terrace we have a panoramic view of the actual Mt. Crested Butte, the ski area, and the Elk Mountains! We celebrated our first morning here by hiking up to the top of the Butte to see the lay of the land.
The aptly named Mt. Crested Butte is indeed a butte with a pointy crested top, rising solo in the center of a broad basin ringed by mountain ranges on almost all sides. From the 12,162 ft. summit you see mountain valleys radiating out in all directions like the spokes of a wheel. There’s a distinct feeling of spaciousness around here; although I’m probably more aware of this having lived in the deep box canyon of Ouray for the last 8 years.
Packing up our house and leaving Ouray was a tough choice to make but now that we’re here I’m super stoked. We’ll be here at least through May and maybe we stay for good, maybe we go back to Ouray; we’re just playing it by ear and making the most of it wherever we are and wherever we end up.
Yesterday evening I was lucky to witness and photograph a fantastic sunset from one of my favorite overlooks of Ouray. This is a seldom visited spot that requires a steep bushwhack and an exposed scramble up crumbly cliffs to get to, but the reward is what I consider one of the best vantage points over the Ouray valley. I’ve been up here probably two or three times before, but never got so lucky with the sunset light!
The next week or so will be our last in Ouray at least for a while, so when I’ve been going on hikes recently and seeing such scenes (like this, and the rainbow last week), I can’t help but feel that the San Juans are smiling upon me, giving me a good sendoff! I know it’s dumb to think that way, but maybe I’m just getting a little sentimental!
It’s nice to be back!
I hope all my fellow American readers had a great 4th of July! Ouray was as rockin as ever — almost literally after the parade when Maj. Rasmussen, a fighter pilot from Ouray, roared through the valley in his F-16 on full afterburners. Incredible! Turn up the volume and check out this video of it:
Beer, water fights, beer, barbeques, more beer, and then we sweated out all that beer with a wine hike up to our favorite terrace over Ouray to watch the fireworks. What a day!!!
On Wednesday I hiked up towards Mt. Sneffels to attempt a redo of a similar photo I took two years back, this year with a white, dust-free snowpack. I also came equipped with a brighter lens that’s better suited for night photography, so the details of the Milky Way are rendered much clearer in this photo than before.
The last two times I’ve visited this spot I camped with a tent, but on Wednesday I opted to travel lighter and go for an all-night hike instead. I reached my summit at 7pm, watched the sunset, and relaxed up there bundled up in warm clothes until finally the Milky Way was positioned directly above Sneffels at around 1am. I continued shooting until about 2:30am, then made my way back down in the dark, reaching the trailhead at sunrise! Sleep can wait…