Colorado Photo Notes

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Nymph LakeIt goes without saying that Colorado is full of photo opportunities; I took about 1300 shots during the week. Given the scenery, they were mostly landscape and nature, with a few portraits to remember the trip by.

The most useful piece of gear I took - and I took almost all of it - was actually a circular polarizing filter. It did wonders in making the sky bluer, taking the glare off lakes and streams, and cutting some of the haze off distant mountains. The runner up was a strap for my sunglasses, so I could just drop them from my face and replace them with the viewfinder.

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Hiking in the Hail

Monday, August 11th, 2008

One of my favorite things about our national parks is getting out on the trails, away from the roads and crowds. In Western Rocky Mountain, I had set my sites on the Lulu City Trail, a 7.4 mile fairly-level round trip to an old silver mining town.

With a late afternoon start, we began hiking along the Colorado River and the surrounding forests and streams while keeping an eye out for moose in the meadows. Instead, there were a few robbins, and after crossing a few rock slide areas, a marmot appeared on a boulder above the next bend. I took a few quick photos with my regular lens before switching to my telephoto, at which point it started the rain.

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Western Rocky Mountain

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Visiting the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado was a new experience. Though I had been to the park before, it was primarily the east side and Trail Ridge Road. Grand Lake is a much more mellow entry point than Estes Park, and the western side of the park seemed similarly quiet and less crowded.

It consists primarily of the Kawuneeche Valley, through which the early stages of the Colorado River flows. It was overcast our first day, making it a great place to watch and hear mountain storms developing. There is something magical yet foreboding in seeing dark clouds building over the mountains as the distant rumble of thunder rumbles across open space.

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Trail Ridge Road

Monday, August 4th, 2008

The highest paved continuous highway in the United States, Trail Ridge Road climbs over the Rockies between Grand Lake and Estes Park. The views and driving are unparalleled; at 12,183 feet, you’re on par with many of the surrounding peaks.

We started in Grand Lake, passing through the Kawuneeche Valley before climbing above it. Stopping for a few short hikes on the way up quickly confirmed the changing altitude: thinner air, lingering snowbanks, and new critters including marmots and pikas.

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Grand Lake

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Grand Lake, on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, was one of my favorite stops on the Colorado trip. A small town on a mountain lake, it still has that mellow, leisurely feel. Our location didn’t hurt, either: a cabin overlooking the lake just a few blocks off the main street.

From looking over the docks out onto the lake and to the mountains, it was a short walk to the main hotel building, where a squadron of hummingbirds were feeding and flying about. The town itself boasted a very old-west feel: wooden sidewalks and overhangs passed various shops and restaurants. It was a nice change to be able to walk to dinner and stroll by the ice cream shop on the way back.

Rabbit Ears

Friday, August 1st, 2008

After our stay in Steamboat Springs, Chandra and I drove back up to Rabbit Ears Pass on our way to Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park. We bounced down a few dirt roads at the Dumont campground to begin our hike.

The trail was a slightly inclined, rougher dirt road that wound through high alpine meadows full of wildflowers. The dual rock spires of Rabbit Ears popped in and out of view, and in and out of the light as scattered clouds shifted above. It was a pleasant hike, and we saw more people on it than I expected, as well as getting a closer look at the Rabbit Ears.