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!