On Monday morning my alarm woke me at 2:00am in my tent at Navajo Lake in the San Miguel Range near Telluride, Colorado. Groggy after only four hours of sleep, I started trudging up towards Mount Wilson under the light of the waning full moon. I could smell wildfire smoke in the air, and the stars were quite dim, but I didn’t think too much of it and continued on my mission to get to the summit for sunrise. Three or so hours later, after much rock hopping and a bit of airy scrambling, I stood on the 14,246-foot summit of Mount Wilson… disappointed with the view. My hopes of a glorious clear Colorado sunrise were crushed by the sight of thick smoke filling the valleys and shrouding the mountains. As I sat on the summit waiting for morning, I knew that my sunrise photo was toast and felt like my whole endeavor was a collosal waste of effort.
But then the sun rose as a red orb filtered through the haze like a lunar eclipse, becoming oranger as it rose higher and casting a warm glow over the smoky landscape. The surreal and somewhat apocalyptic scene wasn’t what I expected but it made for a unique photo opportunity after all!
I learned later that all the smoke came from an 800-acre wildfire west of Montrose. As luck would have it, the wind was blowing due south pushing all the smoke right into the San Juans. That’s a lot of smoke for a relatively small 800-acre fire!
3 thoughts on “Smoky Sunrise on Mount Wilson”
You could have done a lot worse, Jack. I’ve found that haze from smoke enhances the warmth of the sunlight you just can’t get without it. Really a terrific shot…well done and credit to you for getting up so early.
Looks like Mars! Is that Lizard Head I see peaking out there slightly right of center?
Reminds me of posters my older brothers used to hang on the wall. A previous commenter said it looks like another planet…there is a lot of that out there. It will boost the morale of those who cannot attend Shangri-La AKA Colorado. Thanky.