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Fall Colorado - The Dead Tree Tour

Fall Colorado - The Dead Tree Tour

This one is all about the aspen - their colorful leaves, the white trunks, no leaves, and the mountainsides of color. Plus, the weather! Most of all, it's about spending quality time sharing all this and much more with a good friend. The adventure continues...

Colorado Fall 2014

Colorado Fall 2014

Here's what four old guys saw and photographed in Aspen, Marble, Crested Butte, and the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

This was kind of a magical trip - magical in the sense that some wonderful winter weather presented itself in both Crested Butte and the San Juan Mountains, magical in the sense that the four of us got to photograph Crystal Mill before the "unpleasantness" that took place when the landowner decided to put up a fence, post the property and guard it with a gun (apparently warning shots were fired while another group was there a day or two after we photographed the mill), and magical that four guys could have so much fun, enjoy photography so much, have no disagreements and leave wanting to come back again.

Although not "magical", another element of the trip was the new camera I had just purchased. This was the first road trip for the camera and that was without much time with the manual.

Against that backdrop, I'll try to convey a sense of our journey as it started out in Glenwood Springs with me picking up my friends from Iowa and Illinois and heading to Aspen, Marble, Crested Butte, and Ouray with all the fun photo shoot stops along the way.

This was a "strange" year for the aspen and attendant colors. During what is, historically, the peak or near peak time for the leaves to make that magical transformation from green to yellow, orange and red, whole areas that should have been yellow were still green while only a few miles away, a good portion of the leaves had already dropped from the trees. Locations like Kebler Pass west of Crested Butte that are normally totally dependable showed up with a green forest on the west side of the pass while the trees on the east were near peak color. And, the San Juans which should have been peaking while we were there were mostly green and a week or even two from peaking. But, we did find beautiful color and made the most of it.

Along the way, we met some friends who belong to the same group that I do (Rocky Mountain Nature Photographers) and that was a treat. And, a long-time friend from Durango drove over to Ouray to have dinner with us one evening - an even more special treat.

On balance, I can easily say I had more fun on this trip than any I've been on in years - strange Fall colors not withstanding.

12 For '12

12 For '12

2012 didn't turn out as planned. This was to be the "Summer with Sam" (my Border Collie) as we spent July and August in Colorado based in Crested Butte. The trip was sanctioned by my wife (actually, it was her idea) and I had every day planned as to where and when we would fly-fish, which days would be camera days, where we would hike and camp and which friends would be recipients of a scruffy old guy and his dog looking for a home-cooked meal and a Milk Bone. The "Summer with Sam" ended up addressing different and more important priorities as a result of health problems with Sam. Instead of roaming the Rockies, we spent the summer making vet visits, starting a chemo regimen and just doing the things we had always done for nearly 14 years - visits to QuikTrip for a hot dog, trips to the bank, Ace Hardware, the dry cleaner, Dairy Queen, taking our nightly walk and our weekly Sunday evening drive. And, it was a good summer - a very good summer.

A planned spring visit to the Smokies did take place but, based on the results, I should have left my camera at home. And, a planned trip to Savannah apparently was only in my imagination since that didn't happen, either.

However (and, this "however" is a positive one), my planned fall trip to Colorado and Utah with several photographer friends did take place and was very successful but only as a result of the advice and recommendations of three Rocky Mountain Nature Photographer members, Jack Brauer, Darren Kilgore, and John Mumaw. After hearing repeated reports of "early color" in Colorado, I contacted Jack, Darren and John, told them of the planned itinerary (start the trip in Utah and end in Colorado). All three gave me first hand and up to date color reports and recommended changing the itineray to start the trip in Colorado and finish in Utah. As a result, we expereinced near peak and peak color in the Elk Mountains, the Crested Butte area and the northern San Juans. Thank you Jack, Darren and John. Your advice and recommendations were spot-on and sincerely appreciated.

So, here are my favorites for 2012. Critiques are always welcome. Click on the images for a larger more detailed view.

Colorado - Utah Fall 2012

Colorado - Utah Fall 2012

My annual fall pilgrammage to Colorado took on a couple of new dimensions for 2012; first, instead of this being my usual "solo" trip, I acted as "location consultant" for the Colorado portion of LightChase Photography Tour Company's "Colorado-Utah Fall 2012" tour and secondly, a "Whitman's Sampler" (LightChase president's description) of Utah national parks was added to the tour.

At the last minute, because of earlier than normal leaf color changes in the aspen forests of Colorado, we completely changed the itinerary to start in Colorado and end in Utah rather than starting in Utah and Colorado. And, it was an excellent decision and we enjoyed outstanding aspen color throughout the tour.

Colorado tour location highpoints included: Aspen, Marble, Kebler Pass, Crested Butte, Ohio Pass, Cimarron Valley, True Grit (Kate's) Meadow, Red Mountain Pass area, various Ouray County roads and the Mt. Wilson overlook near Telluride.

Our Utah itineray included Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks as well as Dixie National Forest . My favorite - Canyonlands. The view from the "Green River Overlook" is "other-worldly" and let me imagine I was on the surface of Mars.

Enjoy the journey.

A Colorado Fall - 2011

A Colorado Fall - 2011

Serendipity. That's the one word that would describe my nearly annual pilgrammage to Colorado to experience and photograph Fall in the high country this year.

Everything that happened, everything I did, every occurance turned into an unexpected pleasure; even when it started out as a mis-adventure or unhappy beginning. The unfortunate beginning was the result of a good friend and fellow traveler having to cancel his trip with me due to health concerns. What I had hoped would be two old guys roaming around the Rockies became one old guy freelancing his way through a most spectacular display of autumn color. And, never has "freelancing" been so much fun and so completely rewarding, personally, as well as photographically.

Everywhere I went, Aspen, Capitol Peak, Ashcroft, Crested Butte, Kebler Pass, Ohio Pass, the Cimarron Valley, Owl Creek Pass, Ridgway and Ouray and the various Ouray County roads: 1, 5, 7, 9, 24, Last Dollar Road, Red Mountain Pass, as well as some unmarked trails I found great fall color and even greater fun meeting an assortment of photographers from amateur to professional, from Texas to Tokyo, while traveling those roads to various destinations.

And, along the way, another "not as old" friend met up with me in Ouray so we could conquer some previously undriven high mountain passes in his "Yellow Beast" as well as traverse a familiar pass in the snow.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself so go ahead, take a look at this year's crop harvested from the golden aspen trees of my home state.

Colorado Fall 2009

Colorado Fall 2009

The Fall of 2009 held great promise for one of the best years of high country color in years, if not decades. The weather had cooperated all spring and summer bringing optimal amounts of moisture which should have produced golden mountain-sides throughout the state. Then, Mother Nature had her own ideas! First, there was "leaf mold" in the Aspen/Maroon Bells area where there was too much moisture late in the season. The leaves turned brown and dropped. However, the Crested Butte and San Juan areas still held high promise as late as September 30 with colors peaking everywhere. Unfortunately, on Thursday, October 1, a huge storm blew into southwestern Colorado with rain, hail, sleet, snow, freezing temperatures and winds up to 70 miles per hour. Overnight, most of the aspen leaves were on the forest floor and only the shadow of what would have been remained. Neverthess, the time spent hunting for remaining color was rewarding and fun. And, it was a challenge, as well, as the weather literally changed daily as you will see from the photos in this gallery. One day is was 65 with bluebird skies, the next the high was 24 with freezing rain and snow. The locations I scouted and shot in the Crested Butte area included the Kebler Pass Road, Ohio Pass, and Gothic Valley. After a couple of days in these locales, I traveled south and west to the Cimarron Valley and Cimarron Ridge areas of the Uncompahgre Wilderness. In the Ouray and Ridgway areas, I concentrated on Ouray County Roads 5, 7, and 9 as well as Last Dollar Road in Ouray and San Miguel Counties. I didn't get the images I had planned and hoped for but actually was able to do better on several images. I hope you agree. It really is all about the experience and not the photographs.

Last Dollar Barn +
Utah Sunrise +
Moon Over Dixie
Yule Quarry Mill Remnants
Kebler Pass Ferns

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