Although I went into the sleeping bag early last night, I did manage to sleep OK, getting up every few hours to look out the window and didn’t really see much being that the windows were pretty dirty from driving on the dirt roads all day. It still seemed that there were clouds around and we would be shut out of another sunrise with actual sunlight. I had set the alarm for 6am since we only had to walk a couple hundred feet to where we expected to shoot in the morning, and didn’t have to compete with a throng of other photographers, we had the place to ourselves. We planned to shoot there or hike down to the reservoir if the water looked calm enough for reflections.
When 6am rolled around, Denis was already up saying we had snow overnight, about 3-4 inches!! That was the reason I thought the windows were dirty, they were covered in snow. But the great thing was the sky was clear!! No clouds to light up in the predawn, but at least there would be sunlight. Since it was still pretty dark out, I tried to clean off the car a bit before we headed to the rock that provided a huge panorama of various peaks and ridges, all capped with snow and all the way down the mountain sides. What an incredible sight to see. We scrambled up to the snow covered rock to set up and watched as the sunlight hit every peak and ridge and worked its way down the valley, lighting up the gold aspens and frosted firs. Denis went back to warm up a bit because it was really cold, and I stayed until the sun hit the lowest part of the opposite slope to reflect in the water. Just as I finished those shots, the sun hit the aspens right in front of where I stood and I had another opportunity. It seemed that each shot was different as the sun worked its way down, lighting different areas of aspens that sloped up toward the peak, all of it side lit so the scene was just stunning. I hope I was able to capture it in a way that fully expresses how awe inspiring the scene was.
While I was still out on the rock, Denis left to photograph a small shack that he had his eye on since last year and I caught up with him there and we took several shots of the shack, the snow covered aspens and some others, it was a neat spot for several types of shots. By then it was time to decide if we would continue up to Owl Creek Pass, considering the amount of snow on the ground and probably more at the higher elevations. We asked some cars that had come down from the pass and it seemed it was doable in my 2-wheel drive, so we headed off. We ended up stopping at several spots to shoot various things and at one point, a guy told us that the meadow we were at was used in the movie “How the West was Won”. We shot Signature Peak at one point, a kind of column rising from a peak.
I did manage to figure out how to use the transmission to select the gear I wanted in order to control the speed on the descent and at one point, using the emergency brake to put some pressure on the rear brakes to keep the speed under control. All in all, it was not too bad a drive, but I definitely had to pay close attention to what was going on, because things can quickly get out of hand, but there was no real danger unless I just didn’t pay attention.
We finally reached the end of the road at Ridgeway, and had lunch at the Cimmarron Cafe, which had Wi-Fi and I got the pulled pork which was really good, but tasted awfully familiar; which means it was probably the same pulled pork you can get at COSCO!! We spent the rest of the late afternoon looking for the road that he wanted to go to that had a lake at the end which reflects Mount Sneffels. There were many attempts after asking several people on various roads, but Denis’s wife finally provided the answer for us and we headed up Dallas Creek Road (CO 5 not 5A). We passed a spot where maybe 20 people were lined up taking photos of Mount Sneffels up through a valley of golden aspens, and we quickly stopped, took the shots and moved on to the end of the road to where the small pond was. It worked out well, but we probably would have done better if we had skipped the first spot in the road because the sunlight was quickly disappearing from the peak. But we managed to get several shots before the light completely disappeared.
Luckily, by then it was already 7pm and since we were staying there for the night, it didn’t seem so bad since we only had to pass two hours until 9pm which to me was a reasonable time to turn in for the night. Last night we had to pass about 4 hours before 9pm came around; a long time to sit in a car in the middle of nowhere.
Hopefully, tomorrow morning will bring some wispy clouds for predawn light, or any other kind of clouds that can be lit, otherwise it will be another bald sky again. We’ll see what happens.