Since I went into the sleeping bag early at about 915pm, I ended up having intermittent sleep through the night and each time I looked out the window, I could see the clouds above lit by the half moon, though sometimes I thought I saw a few stars. In any event, I must have fallen asleep again after 5am (the last time I remember being awake) because I almost had a heart attack when Denis rapped on the car window!!
I laced up my boots and got out of the car to see at least half the sky clear and clouds over the mountain and it was already 630!! So sunrise was just about a half an hour away and conditions looked ripe for some pink clouds reflected in the lake before the direct sunlight would hit the peaks, great images would be followed by much merriment. I was excited to say the least. I walked down toward the water where Denis was already talking to another photographer and was disappointed to find that there was a bit of a breeze over the water and there would be no mirror like reflections! But the light still looked good and we were confident enough that the three of us hefted an old stump into an advantageous position to use as foreground subject matter with the added bonus of fresh snow on it. I ended up setting up the camera and tripod at a boulder near the edge of the water with some grasses laying up on it for a bit of color for when the anticipated sunlight would hit it. I took some 30 second exposures without sunlight because it was still interesting and the golden aspens did reflect in the water, but were just not mirrored. Then when it seemed that the moment of truth was upon us, clouds moved in again to block any sunlight and it even began to snow on us and we all retreated to our cars. After a bit, Denis and I were talking about what to do next when the sun broke through and illuminated the peaks and we rushed back to the lake and I managed to get off a few shots (that will need blending) before it began to snow on us again, and I watched the beauty of the sunlight illuminating the individual flakes as they fell around us, but unfortunately, it never illuminated the mountain again. It was a neat experience, very frustrating but pretty cool at the same time. You could watch the snow showers move across the landscape and we even thought we could get a rainbow from snow, but again, that didn’t happen either.
It began to snow in earnest and the sun disappeared completely, so we decided to head over Ohio Pass toward Gunnison and it turned out to be a bit rougher road than Kebler but still doable. There were some expansive views, but the clouds obscured some of the peaks and we just kept driving until we came across a herd of cattle!! As it turned out, there must have been about a thousand in the herd, all heading down the road in the same direction we were. There seemed to be no one driving the herd, but they kept on moving down hill, barely getting out of the way for us to pass. This went on for miles and miles. And we had the added benefit of the rear view of these animals plodding along with a bonus feature of constantly being able to witness the end results of the digestive process!! It can also be noted, that as they all were moving along, I witnessed one male trying to begin the birth process all the while continuing to keep up with the herd and never missing a step!! I don’t think it turned out so well for him though. We did actually encounter another herd later on, but it was not so large as the first, however they did seem to be a bit more belligerent and stand in the road making it unable to get past them. But we did manage to get by and get to Gunnison for a quick bite at McDonald’s. We left following the Gunnison River until we came to Curicanti National Recreation Area, a huge lake formed from damming the river and we ended up driving into some snow and then descend again to just rain and finally only clouds. We then turned off on a dirt road toward Owl Creek Pass but stopped short a what Denis had explained was a great spot and so it was. A huge view of several mountain peaks with a lake in the valley, just awesome; only it was still cloudy and now cold and sometimes raining, and it did not lend itself to photography. We were going to stay at this location in hopes of it clearing for sunset, a common theme lately, and if not then stay for sunrise in hopes it clears by then, another common theme lately. Denis boiled up some water and we had some of his Ramen Noodles to help stay warm, but all it did is make my nose run since it turned out to be so spicy.
We decided to explore further up the road a bit but now the clouds were beginning to descend and look angry and before we got too far it began to rain/hail/snow and the wind picked up quite a bit and we heard thunder through the valley. We headed back to the original spot to wait to see if anything changed for sunset and if not to just wait it out until dawn!!!!!! The prospect of sitting/sleeping in a car for 13 or 14 hours didn’t really appeal to me, but we were now some 22 miles from the highway and who knows how much further to any other photographic prospect. However, I do know that this will be the last time I do this unless there is absolutely no other alternative. The sad part is that it finally stopped doing all those weather events and I could see some sunlit clouds blowing by at a rapid pace, but the area that needed to clear up remained stormy. Just can’t seem to catch a break lately. Just think if every place we positioned ourselves at for a beautiful sunrise/set had worked out, I would already have a treasure trove of stunning landscapes, but as yet, have almost nothing to show for the efforts. I feel I have some things that have worked out well, but nothing in the way of the “Grand Landscape” images I was hoping to capture while here in Colorado.
I keep hearing that the weather is about to change, but it never seems to do so other than minute to minute with sunny clear blue skies with puffy clouds never in the mix. I guess we’ll just have to wait it out and hope for the best.
It’s hard to believe that a week has already gone by; I still have about 50 shots left in the first round of memory cards with back up. I will have another set with back after this one, but after that, will only have a single card in the camera and therefore no back up in case anything goes wrong with that card. After that I will have the first two CF cards to use again rendering those images without backup as well.
Sorry about the long post here, but I’ve been writing quite a while now and it’s beginning to get dark and I still have about 12 hours before the scheduled time for sunrise. Just trying to pass the time. Both our cars are so filled with stuff, especially his, that it may actually be impossible for both of us to sit in the same car and at least talk. He also has a laptop to work on his photos which I imagine helps the time go by rather quickly. Anyway, we’ll see if the luck changes tomorrow morning or if it continues as it has.