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!
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.
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.
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.
There are few things in life finer than soaking in natural hot springs, especially when those hot springs are situated at treeline in an alpine basin surrounded by high peaks and valley vistas! Such is the case at Conundrum Hot Springs, a remote but popular wild hot springs in the Elk Mountains between the towns of Aspen and Crested Butte in Colorado. Continue reading “Alpensoak”→
This last weekend we did a little road trip up to Marble to spend the weekend with my friends in their cabin there. On the way over McClure Pass on Friday evening, I had to slam on the brakes and pull over to shoot this awesome sunset light shining through the aspen forest.
On Saturday Ann led us on a wonderful hike up a lesser known basin on Treasure Mountain, with ever-present views of Snowmass Mountain towering across the valley.
We were planning on doing some other kind of car-camping/backpacking adventure in the West Elk Mountains after that, but with the aspens on Kebler Pass still mostly green, along with a sudden bout of indecisiveness and lack of motivation to go backpacking, we ended up just driving back home to the San Juans! Not a bad option either.
After the most stressful and frustrating two days of flying that I’ve yet experienced, I’m finally back home in Colorado. In the grand scheme of things I suppose that two days, no matter how stressful, is a pretty quick time to travel from the tip of South America to the center of North America! But for a 21st century man it was just a pretty crappy series of delayed plane flights.
The nice thing, though, about living on Colorado’s western slope is the opportunity to fly directly over the Rockies whenever flying through the Denver hub. The half-hour flight yesterday from Denver to Montrose was one of the more scenic ones I’ve done, since we went right after the sun set, right after a snowstorm cleared. I was snapping away at the window with my camera most of the time, happy to have a nice consolation flight after such a long two sleepless days. See more shots below! Continue reading “Flight Over the Rockies”→