January 29, 2023 | Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
There's something special about starting out on the trail in the pre-dawn hours, the temperatures well below freezing, a light snow falling. Headlamps switch on, illuminating the 15 feet in front of you. Snowshoes or spikes on, ensuring proper footing on the trail. cameras tucked away in our packs, ready to go when needed. Packs hitched up on our backs, we began heading up the trail to Dream Lake. And thus began my week in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
It had been a goal of mine for some time, to visit Colorado in the winter and photograph the snow-covered peaks, frozen lakes, and pine trees looking like they were covered with whipped cream. Last week I wrote about my favorite spot in the park- Dream Lake. Truly one of the most beautiful spots I've ever seen. But there was so much more to the park than just Dream Lake.
Kristen Wilkinson and I did the hike to Dream Lake three times. There was just so much to offer there. Between abstract ice designs, wide vistas featuring Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain, and more intimate landscapes, such as "Lone Pine", below.
One morning, we met local photographer Stephen Hamm, who showed us Moraine Park and the Big Thompson River, which provided a fantastic foreground while blowing snow created a fog around the peaks in the distance as the sun filtered through, shown in "Blow Winter Wind", below. The wind that morning was blowing at about 20mph, and coming straight off the peaks. It took some time for the light to come up, but as with Dream Lake, there were a lot of photographic possibilities so we spent a couple of hours wandering in the area of Big Thompson River before heading to The Egg of Estes for a well-deserved breakfast.
There were some spectacular views along Trail Ridge Road and Bear Lake Road. Trail Ridge Road closes in the winter at Many Parks Curve, but it's still worth driving to the closure to take advantage of the vistas available. "Across the Valley" above is one example. Bear Lake Road also has some stunning views. I particularly liked the views from Storm Pass Trailhead, which you can see below in "Peaks of Winter".
Our last morning there, we decided on a final hike to Dream Lake. Kristen snapped a photo of me crossing Nymph Lake on the way, below. Even along the trail, there were numerous opportunities, including the Steller's Jay below, as well as the overlook of Long's Peak.
I never set out with a specific number of photos that I'd like to make on a trip. Weather and subject matter will often dictate what I come away with, as well as my personal mindset. This trip to the Rockies was definitely one of my more productive trips. I still have images I want to edit and add to my Collections. Just something about the mountains. I very much want to go back and see it in the spring, summer, and fall. Hopefully I can make that happen soon.