I’m Covered in Sand!

Self Portrait in the Great Sand Dunes

After three completely sedentary weeks at the computer, this last weekend I was desperate for some wilderness action, so I headed out on a backpacking trip in the Great Sand Dunes. My initial plan was to do a simple three day hike up and back the Sand Ramp Trail along the eastern side of the dunes. But on the first night I was feeling ambitious and decided to hike all the way around the dunes! Read more about the trip below, and be sure to check out my gallery of photos from the trip.

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A Sunset

Sneffels Range and Ridgway

horsefly mesa sunset

This evening I had my first real photo shoot with the Sony A900. What was almost an amazing sunset over the entire Sneffels Range turned out to be nothing too exciting. But nevertheless I put my new camera through the paces, and I must say it was frustrating!

My first impression is that the user interface sucks. Of course every camera takes some getting used to, and I probably will get comfortable with it eventually, but still I think it’s safe to say that the Olympus interface is WAY more intuitive. When I first started shooting the Oly E-420, it immediately “clicked” with me, and I loved it. Not so with this Sony, which I find has dials all over the place and strange series of button presses to make it do what I want, like a Simon Says interface. I can only hope to get better at it.

On the positive side, the viewfinder is amazing – so large and clear and bright that you can see every little thing in the composition, and manually focus by sight. It also makes it really easy to use graduated neutral density filters.

Ouray Ice

Ouray Ice Climbing
Climbing in the Ouray Ice Park.

Yesterday a sparkling new Sony A900 24mp SLR camera arrived via Fedex, with a few lenses, so today I figured I’d go take it for a spin. What better place to go on a cloudy day than the Ouray Ice Park, just a few blocks from my house? See a few more photos below.

Ouray Ice Climbing

Ouray Ice Park

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much recently. Indeed, I haven’t been DOING much recently, except sitting at the computer day and night for over a week straight, building websites. But it’s been good, because the weather has been so disturbingly warm and spring-like for the last few weeks that the snowboarding hasn’t been too tempting. So I’ve gotten a lot of work done, finished a couple long overdue websites, and am finally caught up and on schedule again. I still have some very busy months ahead of me, with over 10 websites queued up already. Nevertheless, I’ve been realistic with my scheduling, so I will be able to get out more regularly for some backpacking and photography again. And hopefully some more snowboarding if it ever snows again…

The last month has been so warm it is worrisome. Sure the warmth is nice… in APRIL!!! Wearing t-shirts in Ouray in February is not nice, it is disconcerting, especially when it’s like this for weeks on end. We can only hope that this is just Colorado weather wackiness, and not a deeper problem with global warming. Meanwhile, the snowpack is turning to mush, and the ice in the ice park looked positively soggy today. WINTER, WHERE ARE YOU? COME BACK!

Dead Cricket Gulch*

Backcountry Snowboarding
Parker McAbery snowboards down the guts of a big gulch.

Today four of us did an exploratory hike up to about 12,400′ on a high windy ridgeline. We ended up riding a pretty heavy duty 2400′ line that we had scoped out from across the valley yesterday. The last two days have been a lot of fun, exploring new terrain and learning more and more about every nook and cranny of these mountains (sometimes the hard way).

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Sunny Days

Colorado backcountry hiking

[+] Another sunny blue-sky day in Colorado. We got out for an early run this morning, and tried out a new line (for me at least). Great line, but the snow is getting a bit hammered by now (by the sun and other skiers). It’s been a strange last few weeks weatherwise… one good storm, lots of sun, and it has felt more like spring than summer. Where did winter go? Come back, winter!

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