Got up super early this morning after sleeping so so; figured I would head up to Maroon Lake really early since I probably wouldn’t sleep any more and maybe try some star photography. I was in total shock when I got to the parking lot because it was completely filled!!!
I got the absolute last spot there, everyone was packing up their photo gear and heading to the lake in pitch darkness!!! I guess they wanted to get the prime spot and you need to get there early, like the previous night. When I got there, there were probably only about 75 other photographers and as it finally started to get light, there must have been well over 100 standing shoulder to shoulder. Some had chairs, some passed the time playing video games on their iPad, it was a zoo and it wasn’t even a weekend. Anyway, the sky was without clouds and there was no snow on the Maroon Bells but the aspens were perfect. I took the obligatory shot when the light first hit the peaks with that red glow, but not much afterward. Did have problems with people just plopping their butts on a rock in front of me and when I asked if they could slide over a bit, they were a bit indignant and moved but were still in the shot and they were there just to look!! They weren’t even photographers. Took a lot of other shots because the place was amazing and when the light worked its way down the valley to light up the aspens, the reflections were amazing.
One major problem though was all of a sudden the camera went into auto- ISO and I couldn’t figure out how to get out of it. I tried everything, so I finally went over to the guys I was near who were definitely major photographers just listening to them and asked if they could help. They put on their collective thinking caps and still couldn’t figure it out, but they said “she should know” She looked at the camera, and since she had the same one, said just push this button and turn the wheel and Whammo, it was fixed!! I couldn’t be happier. So I continued my shooting and was about to leave, but noticed the outlet for Maroon Creek and walked along the trail a bit and ended up taking some good long exposure shots of the water and some moss covered rocks along the stream. I was pretty happy with them.
I did finally leave since the light was filtering into everything by now, and wanted to work my way up to Independence Pass and see what was going on along that road. It was pretty and stopped a few times to take some shots, and had lunch at a great overlook of the whole valley, and then onto the pass which was well above tree line, but it was another throng of people. I guess the time spent at Bisti was the only solitude so far for this trip. I imagine it will continue this way until I reach the remote places in Utah. At the pass, I saw some angry clouds coming and thought they may light up at sunset because it was mostly clear on the western horizon. So I hung around for what would be about two hours waiting, and sure enough the sun filtered onto the pass with the black clouds south. However, as they say, always look around because you might see something better. Well, another storm was approaching and I didn’t think it would miss us, so I took a few quick iPhone Photos and headed back to the car just as it let loose with heavy rain, lightening and hail !! I watched all the tourists doing stupid things, like standing in front of the Independence Pass sign for a picture, or driving their car in front of the sign and taking photos of it from the car. It was a real sideshow. When the storm stopped for a bit, the mountains now had a light dusting of snow/hail, so hopefully, the Maroon Bells should have some tomorrow morning to make them just a bit more interesting.
After waiting until almost 630, I finally gave up and headed down in the rain only to see the sun break through for a brief minute and light up the mountainside, but it was still raining…it was one of those things to enjoy seeing, but not being able to photograph it in any decent way. Drove into Aspen and used the GPS to find a McDonalds but it couldn’t help me find a parking spot; I had to drive around and around until I found one several blocks away. It didn’t have its own lot, it was more like a store in town, but I finally got something to eat instead of the staple of these trips which I had for lunch: tuna, crackers and a can of fruit cocktail. Had a lot of problems with trying to get pictures to post and ended up doing it in a separate post and couldn’t make them smaller like I wanted, so only did 3 because of all the problems.
I ended up getting another night at the campsite, which is really a parking area, but I don’t mind since I sleep in the Hotel Sorento. It’s a bit cramped, but good enough for a few days at a time. You can’t beat the campsite price: only $7.50 for us senior citizens. Free would be better, but they will be few, I still like to know there are other members of civilization somewhere not too far.
Back at the campsite, when I arrived, someone was in my spot, so I parked in another, but a girl came out and asked if I wanted them to move, they just didn’t have any other place to camp. I said no problem, but because I was out for a minute, I noticed the stars were surprisingly out since I thought the sky would be cloudy. I could actually see the Milky Way, so out came the camera and I slapped on the 28mm so I could easily focus at infinity and included some fir trees that were right behind the car. I’m sure my neighbors didn’t like all the car door closing and my headlamp shining a lot of the time, but I managed to get some shots of the Milky Way which was a first for me. This mornings star shots at Maroon Lake, just to pass the time, were all duds.
One other note: although I had no headache this morning, it came back this afternoon and again did not respond to Tylenol, but it seemed better after one Alieve, dinner and lower altitude. If I wasn’t feeling better by the time I got back to the campground, I probably would not have even attempted the Milky Way shots.
Still attempting to get some photos up but so far have been unsuccessful.