If you follow this blog, you might have noticed that I haven’t posted any new photos in over two months! Recently I have started getting emails from people wondering if I’m alright, or if I’ve given up on my website or photography in general. Well, let me assure you I’m still alive and kicking. The thing is, back at the end of December when I was longboarding a ditch in Albuquerque, I slipped on a slick spot where someone had poured paint and I badly sprained my wrist. I didn’t think much of it at the time and even did another run, but later on I realized something was seriously messed up. X-rays, an MRI, numerous doctor and therapy visits, three months, and thousands of dollars later, my wrist is still messed up but slowly healing. It wasn’t broken but it was pretty much as badly sprained as can be without needing surgery. Unfortunately it killed any prospect for backcountry adventures this winter/spring since I can’t hold a pole, rip skins, or use a shovel if I had to. Fortunately I’ve still been able to snowboard at the ski area, which has kept me sane enough. But since pretty much all my winter photography is done while hiking or splitboarding, I haven’t had hardly any new photos to share all winter. So… bummer.
On a brighter note, I have lots of adventures in store for the summer! We will be homeless again all summer and will spend five weeks in Germany and Austria, followed by two months of backpacking around in Colorado, which I’m super excited about since we’ve been elsewhere for the last two summers. I still love Colorado the best! With that in mind, here are some new old photos I dug out of my archives from a solo trek I did through the Needle Mountains in the Weminuche Wilderness back in 2008. Yes, I am dreaming about summer and long to get back into the wilds of the Weminuche, my happy place!
Last week’s snow storms dropped almost four feet of powder on Crested Butte! The official tally at the ski area for the week was 47″, making the Butte the big winner for snowfall amongst all Colorado ski hills for the week. CB oftentimes gets less snow than other areas due to a “donut” effect where the surrounding ranges block some of the storms. But when the storms come in at the perfect west/southwest angle the snow can funnel right into the valley and dump here! Fortunately for us, this happened during the first big storm a few weeks ago, during this last storm, and it looks like it might happen again with another big storm headed this way in a few days. This winter got off to a slow start but has been piling on in December and January!
Suffice it to say, I’ve been out there shredding up as much of this pow as I can, with some great mornings at the Butte and an epic day at Monarch Pass. It would be fine with me if it keeps snowing until June!
UPDATE 1/15: The snow total for CB in the first two weeks of January has grown to 9 FEET! This is a January to remember!
On Tuesday I spent a pleasant evening along the North Rim of the Black Canyon. It’s hard for me to believe, but it’s been nine years since I’ve been to the North Rim! Last time I was there, in October 2007, I backpacked down S.O.B. Draw and camped on a broad sandy beach along the river right below the Painted Wall, just past where you can see the river in the photo above. I had quite a scare in the middle of the night when a falling rock crashed down on the beach right next to me!
The first sound of rockfall woke me up instantly and in the darkness I immediately knew it was happening somewhere above me. To make matters worse I was camping in a bivy sack and I thrashed around frantically trying to get out of it so I could run closer to some bigger boulders that might help shelter me. Meanwhile I was still hearing the rock crashing closer and closer down towards me, so I gave up trying to shed the bivy bag and just potato-sack hopped towards the boulders. The rock impacted the beach with a dull but loud thud. I spent the rest of the night huddled against the biggest boulder around, too afraid to venture out in the open of the beach again! In the morning I found the rock where it impacted the sand about ten feet from where I’d been sleeping.
On this last trip I was actually planning to spend one night down there again, but as I studied the campsites from the rim and considered how they are positioned right in the gunbarrel of 2,000 feet sheer vertical cliffs, I thought, no, I’ve learned that lesson before!
We are finally back home in Crested Butte, Colorado after our big 3.5-month road trip! On our first day back here yesterday I celebrated our return with a hike through the aspens up near Kebler Pass. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for several weeks now and it was nothing short of awesome, with the aspens at peak goldenness.
The vast fields of aspens up near Kebler are like the redwoods of aspens forests — I know of no other place with such an abundance of pure, large, white aspen boles.
Walking amongst the golden aspens, I’m filled with an almost tangible feeling of the glory of our Earth, like walking through a cathedral of light. Honestly, I think this is the most beautiful thing to be experienced in nature — more beautiful than wildflowers, than waterfalls, than auroras even.
The ski area of Crested Butte oftentimes suffers from lower-than-expected snowfall amounts, but just 9 miles to the west/northwest the Ruby Range gets hammered with some of the highest snowfall totals in Colorado. All winter long I’ve gazed wistfully at the snow-smothered Ruby Range peaks, tantalizingly out of reach for those of us without snowmobiles. In late May now that much of the lower access roads have melted out, yesterday I finally had the chance to get out for a spring descent up in these mountains. Daniel and I hiked up and skied/rode down Mineral Point, the prominent pyramid-shaped peak visible up valley as you drive into the town of Crested Butte.
Later in the afternoon back in town sipping beer in the sun, I gazed up the valley at the peak we just descended, pleased to finally be thinking “I just rode that!” instead of “I wish I could ride that!”
Lately I’ve been itching for a camping adventure but have been too busy to do anything too ambitious or far away. Since we live across the street from Mt. Crested Butte, yesterday I figured what the hell, I might as well just skin up the ski slopes and camp up there for a night! It wasn’t exactly a wilderness experience (I could actually see our condo down below), but it was still nice to spend a quiet evening under the moonlight gazing at the mountains.
Colorado, and most of the west for that matter, has been getting pounded by a powerful winter storm these last few days. This last weekend we did a quick trip to Ouray to catch up with some friends and get out for some backcountry powder turns.
Although we were both a bit sad to leave, after two great days of skiing we hightailed it through the blizzard back to Crested Butte, where two feet of powder blanketed the Butte by Monday!