The Wilderness Hunter

exploring colorado in all seasons

Rocky Mountain Spring

Okay so it is now almost October, and I am just now getting around to posting this. These images taken in late July when most of the rest of the state is suffering the hot summer temperatures. But above 9,000 feet, it’s spring time and the flowers were in bloom. Usually. This year however, due to a dry winter and hotter than average temperatures, spring came to the high country about a week or two earlier than I was expecting. My cousin, Brooke and I headed up to Rocky Mountain National park with a vague plan of attack, the only solid thing was that we wanted to make some images of some flowers. After a quick stop off in Boulder for some camping necessities, we headed to the east entrance of RMNP, hoping there were still some camp sites available on the east side. Which of course there were not, what were we thinking?! Friday night at the end of July, on the Front Range side. Though it didn’t help that one of the major campgrounds was closed. So over the hill we headed to the Timber Creek campground where we were assured there were sites available. After a VERY foggy and wet drive over Trail Ridge road, we arrived at Timber Creek CG to set up camp. In the dark. And its raining. To many less hardy types, this would be the time to just turn around and head to the nearest hotel, or just go home. But for us of Lydick stock, we are used to setting up camp in the dark. And the rain. It’s almost a family tradition when camping together. Another thing on our side was the fact that I brought my canvas spike tent, which goes up in about the same time as a four man nylon tent, but is much, MUCH more comfortable and more weather resistant. After getting the tent all set up, and after a bit of mead and a “hippie food” dinner at 9:30, we went to sleep.

We woke to the sound of Elk hooves plodding through camp, and looked out to see several cows and their calves casually munching and walking through the dew soaked grass. Once the sun crested the ridge, we were suddenly in macro photography paradise. The rain and dew had collected on every bit of grass and flower in the immediate area. We spent about an hour or so on our hands, knees, elbows, and bellies in the dampness inches from blooms and blades of grass. Finally about 9:30 we set off on a five mile hike (one way) up to Granite Falls. Just the name was enough for us to get excited about. Like photographers, we took our time heading up the trail, snapping shots of what ever caught our eye. A mile or so up the trail, we came across a young bull Moose grazing the tall foliage, and paying us no mind. Most of the rest of the hike was fairly uneventful, stopping to “click” the flowers occasionally. We reached Granite Falls, and were not disappointed; a stretch of about fifty yards of water cascading over solid granite rock, dropping thirty feet total. There were a few other hikers taking in the falls, though when it began to cloud over and rain a bit, they all scattered so we were left alone to begin our photographic exercises. The clouds helped achieve the long exposures needed to make the silky smooth water effect, the longest of which was a half second, though the average was around a quarter second. Doesn’t sound like much, but for a camera shutter, that’s quite a long time. We spent quite a long time at the base of the falls until the rain stopped, and dipped our feet in the icy water, enjoying a beautiful mountain midday. When we were kids, hiking with our family, our grandad would always have a honey bear full of honey for an extra boost of energy. Brooke had an idea to get a shot of our honey bear we had with us on this hike, which I thought was awesome. To this day I have always taken a honey bear with me on hikes, snowshoe trips and hunting trips. I never would have thought to include it in a photo! So the honey bear shot is for you Grandad.

Soon we decided to head back, since the storm clouds were gathering again and we didn’t feel like getting rained on too badly on our five mile return trip. It was a good plan right up until it began to sprinkle. The sprinkle turned into a rain. The rain turned into a downpour. So we covered the camera gear and headed down the trail with more single minded purpose than we came up the trail with. We stopped just once, to shoot a rainbow hanging over Big Meadow. After a ten mile hike in the soaking rain with thirty pounds of camera gear on your back, the sight of the truck is almost enough to bring a tear to one’s eye,and getting back to camp was just about as glorious. After the fire, and dinner, and more mead, the clouds cleared up and gave us an excellent opportunity to get some shots of the moon with my 500mm super telephoto lens and Brooke’s 2x tele-extender, which increases the reach of any lens. Including the crop factor of our APS-C sensors on our 7D’s, we were looking at the moon with the equivalent of a 1500mm lens! Needless to say, we were able to get some great shots of the moon with incredible detail. Short of actually having a telescope with a DSLR mount on it, we did well. Initially we wanted to get some shots of the stars, but moonset was going to be close to 1:00am, and we were already exhausted from the hike, so we hit the sack instead.

After our morning visit from the Elk, we packed up camp and decided to head in the direction of home, with a minor detour up to Loch Lomond to check out the wild flower situation there. After all, this was supposed to be a “wild flower photo trip.” So after the obligatory flower shots, we headed down the hill back home. And two months later when the fall colors are emerging, here are the photos with the spring color! Forgive me the lack of captions on the photos, I was doing well enough to get them posted.


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