Day 14 – October 10, 2016 – Monday
Got up early enough to try to get a sunrise shot somewhere near Rock Springs, but there were no clouds and I had an almost 6 hour drive ahead of me to Rocky Mountain NP, so I opted to just get in the car and drive. Stopped across the street this time instead of going back to Starbucks and for $2.99, I got a breakfast sandwhich and a 24-oz. coffee!! About the same as a medium coffee at Starbucks. Managed to get in touch with Laurene about visiting Tuesday, and I talked to Denis to ask where he was, and found he was already back home in CA. Sounds like he had much better weather in CO than I did in WY.
Made it into Rocky Mountain NP after driving through the awesome (in engineering too) Big Thompson Canyon and asked about any aspens in the park and the ranger told me to turn off in about 2 miles and there should be some aspens. Well, there were very few and not in any way like the stands I saw in CO two years ago. Mostly evergreens. So I headed up Trail Ridge Road, the highest regularly maintained road in the US. The temperature kept dropping as I got higher and higher going from the mid 60’s to the mid 30’s!! Above treeline there were 360-degree panoramas of weather systems moving through the Rockies. Snow squalls, various types of clouds, sunshine glistening off the new snow dusting the mountains. It was simply beautiful…but super windy!! No busloads of self-absorbed tourists, but still plenty of selfies to go around. At the Gore Range Overlook, the weather went from sunny, to a completely socked in white-out, to snow blowing sideways, to some crazy clouds clearing the way for sunshine again; all in about 20 minutes. Glad I waited it out as the scene that developed was nothing short of spectacular!! I did a lot of shooting in hopes of getting the raw power of what occurred in both single shots and panos. I just hope something comes of it because it would be a shame to have not recorded it properly. But it was just a great moment in the trip watching it unfold across the entire range of mountains before me.
I returned to the same location when sunset should have occurred, and there were still plenty of clouds around as well as plenty of wind. It sure looked like the pink was trying to make its way through, but just never did to any degree. If it had, it would have been two spectacular events in just a few hours; too much to expect. But I waited in the gale with my camera, completely ready with split ND’s in place in case I got really lucky.
Drove back down to Estes Park, gateway to the park, and was amazed at how commercial it was. I found a McDonald’s and wrote out the journal tonight, just like any other homeless person…just killing time before heading back up to find a spot to crash for a few hours. I don’t think the skies will be clear to try any star shots tonight with the moon setting pretty late now, and if it remains as windy and cold as when I left, I think I’ll skip it and stay warm. I’m amazed that this is the first and only night I don’t have a specific place to stay because the only campground is in the opposite direction of where I want to be in the morning. But after tomorrow morning, the photo part of the trip will be over. I hope it is a good one since I haven’t had a single great sunrise, or sunset for that matter. Time will tell…