Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fall Colors Trip 2016

It was 90 degrees when I left my house on Friday afternoon.  Two hours later, I was driving through a blizzard at the Eisenhower Tunnel.  That's a Colorado Fall for you. 

Many people may not realize, but there is a ton of research, planning, preparation and patience involved in these multi-day photography trips.  This year's trip was centered around the peaks of the stunning, but not very popular Eagle's Nest Wilderness a.k.a. the Gore Range.  I took almost 1500 pictures over the course of 4 days.  If I could describe the experience in one word, it would be "cold"... and "beautiful"...and "lonely".  I don't have time to write the story behind each image, so I'll just post some of the best ones from the trip:

Autumn photography of acorn creek with aspens in the fall and gore range
Acorn Creek

sunrise in autumn with eagles nest peak and fall colors gore range Colorado
Eagles Nest Peak Sunrise

Colorado autumn sunrise with the sunbeam and upper cataract lake eagles nest wilderness fall
Sunburst and Cataract Lake

Cataract Lake Colorado in the fall with Autumn aspen foliage
Cataract Lake

Aspen forest panorama in the gore range colorado
Aspen Forest

Peak K, Peak L, Gore Thumb, Guyselman, Peak N and Peak O from Highway 9 in fall colors
Peak K, Peak L, Gore Thumb, Guyselman Mountain, Peak N and Peak O (I think)

Autumn on Grand Traverse peak with colorful aspens in Vail Colorado
Grand Traverse Peak from Vail

Piney Lake

Autumn reflection with peak c and Mt. Powell near piney lake in the calm piney river fall colors colorado Vail
Peak C (center) and Mt. Powell (Left) from Piney River

One night I stayed out late to get some milky way shots as the sky was so clear at Piney Lake.  After shooting, Molly and I were heading back to the truck in the dark.  All of the sudden, Molly stops in the middle of the trail.  She must notice something.  Right in front of us we hear this loud grunting sound.  We both freeze.  A couple seconds later the same grunting sound.  All I can think is, "Man I hope that's not a bear".  Then I see another headlight in front of us.  No... it's not another headlamp.  It's the reflection of my own headlight in the eye of a large animal.  It grunts at us again.  This time Molly barks at it very loudly.  The creature starts moving toward us, then turns to its right and starts walking down the hill.  As it passes, I can see two HUGE antlers of a bull moose.  It walks past us toward Piney Lake.  I later found out that this moose is well known at the Piney Ranch.  Apparently, they call him Monty.  All I have to say is I'm thankful for my canine hiking partner!

Milky Way


Moose in Piney Lake

Monday, August 29, 2016

The One Who Holds the Stars


"If you can hold the stars in place
You can hold my heart the same
Whenever I fall away
Whenever I start to break
If you can calm the raging sea
You can calm the storm in me
You're never too far away
You never show up too late
So here I am, lifting up my heart
To the one who holds the stars"

- Skillet

There is so much uncertainty in this world.  A lot of people are worried about so many different issues.  The sky is falling!  That's what we hear every day in one form or another.  From terrorist attacks to Ebola to which presidential candidate is going to ruin our nation, we live with a constant barrage of voices that encourage fear and doubt.  We all want to control what happens in our lives.   We all want things to go according to our plans.  Here's a secret:  We have a lot less control than we think.

"Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control."

One of our recent Bible studies has centered around joy.  There is a common misconception that joy is synonymous with happiness.

The happy person has more joy.

There is actually more evidence in scripture that shows the very opposite of this statement.  Some of the most joyful people are also the ones in seemingly the worst situations.  Happiness is dependent on circumstances.  Circumstances are constantly changing for all of us.  Joy, on the other hand, is dependent on the only thing in existence that doesn't change.

For many of us, it's not until we lose control of those things that we think are so important that we are able to see and trust in the Lord's power.  He said, "My power is made perfect in weakness."  When we decide to put our faith in Him, we have to give up that control.  We have to admit that He is the one who causes things to happen.  He is the one who controls the circumstances in our lives weather they are the circumstances we want or not.  He knows what's best.  Yet, there is peace in this because we know that God is a good God.  He defines Himself as "Love".   He promises us so many good things!  At the top of the list is eternal life with Him if we love and follow Him.  Once we let go of our doubts and fears and trust in the powerful God who "sets the stars in place," we gain peace and joy which no circumstance can take away.  It makes us invincible.

The next time you start to believe the chaos you see with your eyes around you, look at the Lord who is unseen.  He will help us see our problems for what they really are - insignificant.

"God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress."

- Psalm 46:1-7

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sunset from Mt. Antero


The mountains have been hazy from all the recent forest fires.  This has resulted in some interesting sunsets.  We decided to take a quick camping trip down to Buena Vista to see if we could capture this beauty from the top of a mountain.

Years ago, I hiked Mt. Antero with a friend and remembered the jeep road that goes very high up on the mountain.  In order to get a sunrise or a sunset shot on most peaks, you are required to spend a good many hours hiking in the cold dark.  With the help of the ATV, getting up (and more importantly, down) this one made for quick easy work, avoiding a big chunk of that long walk back in the dark.

This was our first time camping with our family of 4.  Our boy is only 4 weeks old.  We pitched a tent at one of the campgrounds near the trailhead in the afternoon and I left the wife and kids to head up the peak.  I arrivied at the trailhead around 5:00pm and was informed that there was a jeep rollover a short ways up the road that was currently being towed down the mountain blocking all vehicles in both directions.  Well, we'll have to make a plan B.  Just as I was turning around to head back to the camp, I noticed a line of jeeps coming down the trail.  It had just been cleared out!  Back to plan A.

Stream crossing near treeline

The road up was fairly rough.  There are tons of pull offs and great camping spots all along this road.  The ATV started to struggle a little as I reached treeline.  In fact, the higher up it went, the more it wanted to stall.  The thin, high altitude air is not just difficult for lungs, but motors too.

Antero with the 4-wheeler

I made it to the ridge and decided to give the little guy a break.  The remainder of the hike took a little over an hour.  It's always nice to have a 14er Summit all to yourself.  It was totally calm and quite nice up there.

Some Jeeps made it to the top of the road

Antero Summit
The cast silhouette of Mt. Antero in the Arkansas River Valley
Summit Panorama
Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak
Smokey Mountains.  The 3 Apostles and Huron at center.  That area was our destination last week.
sunset over Mt. Princeton as viewed from Mt. Antero in the Sawatch Range near Buena Vista
Mt. Princeton

Super red coloring

Once the sun was down, I hiked back down the mountain in the still eerie silence of twilight.  It was dark when I reached the 4-wheeler.  I packed up my camera gear, got on, turned the key, and....nothing.  It was dead.  Ok... now what?  Then I remembered that there's the on/off switch.  Sometimes I forget to turn that on.  nope.  It was switched on.  Still not starting.  Could the battery have died?  I started mentally preparing to hike the whole road back in the dark.  How would I get this thing back down?  Would I have to hike back up the next day and have someone give me a tow?   Will my wife worry about me getting back so late?  Will a wild animal eat me?  Do I have enough food and water?  Should I just shove this worthless piece of junk ATV off the edge of the mountain and watch it roll down?

Then it came to me.  Neutral.  Is it in neutral?  I hop on again and down shift...bam...it starts right up.  The ride down to the trailhead was uneventful. 

After I loaded the ATV onto the truck I headed back to camp around 11:00.  I drove up on a moose in the middle of the road.  These animals are huge - taller than my truck.  You don't realize their size until you are right up close.  It was running away from my headlights but staying on the road.  They do run kind of funny, not graceful like a deer or horse. 

We checked out the cool Chalk Cliffs of Mt. Princeton on the way out the next day.  We would have stopped at the hot springs there, but figured it would be too much hassle with a 1 month old and all.

Chalk Cliff detail
White Chalk Cliffs of Mt. Princeton