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 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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Backpacking in the Sawatch - Lake Ann - July 2016

A buddy and I went for a short backpack into the heart of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness of the Sawatch Range.  The hike goes about 3 miles into Lake Ann around the base of Colorado 14er Huron Peak.  It's right about prime time for the blooming alpine wildflowers.

Above treeline - Huron Peak to the right

Lake Ann and a peak along the Continental Divide

Lake Ann looking north

We had no luck fishing in Lake Ann, though I had read of good fishing reports.  We had to settle for Mountain House for dinner.


Indian Paintbrush

In the evening, we hiked up to the west to find a little hidden unnamed lake with good photography potential of the Three Apostles.  The lake is near the base of Granite Mountain.  It took a bit of bushwhacking off trail and a little help from Garrett's GPS, but we finally found it.  We should have brought our fishing poles!  You could see hundreds of trout.  They were so close to shore that you could have grabbed them with your hands if you had the patience.  If we ever return to this area, we'll be camping near this lake instead.

Pools in the Harrison Flat with Huron Behind

Pools and the 3 Apostles with the rising moon

At the unnamed lake

Huron and the 3 Apostles

reflection of the three apostels in the collegiate peaks wilderness colorado
The Three Apostles sunset reflection

After dark we hung around to capture a night shot at the little pools we visited earlier:

Milky Way photography Sawatch Range Colorado Lake Ann Huron Peak
The 3 Apostles and the Milky Way

Almost anytime you see a shot like this of the night sky with the mountains and foreground having the correct lighting, the image is a composite of at least two separate images.  The amount of light in the sky versus the ground make it impossible for any camera (that I can afford) to capture the details in both at the same time.  The starry part of the image was taken at a different time of night, but represents a glimpse of what the scene looks like with the naked eye.

Parting shot of the Apostles