Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mike's Fall Photography Tour of Colorado & Utah 2016

I had been looking forward to a less touristy visit of Colorado and Utah for years, ever since I moved from Durango to California in the mid-80's.  However, being a teacher did not allow for a getaway during the golden months of September and October.  Yes, I was lucky enough to return during summer vacations and greatly enjoyed it.   Well, I retired this year and made due on my wish to chase the colors from NE Utah and NW Colorado to Rocky Mountain National Park to Boulder to SW Colorado and Eastern Utah for a month, before heading back home to California.  My tour was solo for the most part, unfortunately, as my wife Jill still has one more long year of work before she can join me in a life of leisure and relaxation.  Luckily, she did mange to fly in for my last week in Durango and we enjoyed several days and nights at our favorite place on the planet, Uncle John's cabin in the La Plata Mountains.  

I planned my trip around my first adventure to Dinosaur National Monument and some backcountry road travel there.  Well, the weather gods did not cooperate and the night I pulled into Vernal, Utah, it rained 2 1/2 inches and flash flood warnings forced me into a motel!  You can see the impending weather below as the clouds began to stream in to Kolobs Canyon area of Zion National Park the day before.  When I finally made it to the park after two long days of travel along the I15, the ranger said that they received about 20% of their annual precipitation during the previous 48 hours.  Alas, driving to Echo Park will have to wait for another time...Nonetheless, I had a most beautiful drive though the park. I enjoyed the wall of dinosaur fossils, some beautiful hikes, and a night at the Green River campground.   I skipped Echo Park this time and then headed into Steamboat Springs and the lit up Yampa River valley.  After a night in the snow on Rabbit Ears Pass (and yes, I was all alone!), I continued east to Rocky Mountain National Park.  I was thrilled when they re-opened Trail Ridge Road after the storm and I was able to go all the way to Boulder after a scenic tour through the iconic park.  Glowing aspens, snow-capped peaks, and herds of elk.  Hard to beat!

I had great visits with family and friends in Boulder and Denver and even spent two nights at the historic and gorgeous Chautauqua Lodge and Cabins in Boulder.  After a day of tennis at Washington Park, I meandered my way to Durango via South Park, the Collegiate Peaks, Gunnison, Lake City, Creede, and Wolf Creek Pass.  The colors were fantastic; an epic year for sure.  On the flip side, climate-change enabled Pine Beetle has decimated forests from Rabbit Ears to RMNP to Boulder to Wolf Creek Pass.  A real contrast for sure.

I spent most of the tour in and around Durango and La Plata Canyon.  I had nice long visits with Shaila, my aunt, and  I shared a great hike with an old friend up to Spud Lake in the Needles as well as several frozen nights in John's cabin.  Tennis is still the glue with old friends and we also had some fun visits and a BBQ at Mike's place.  My homeward drive through Utah included visits to the painted desert near Monument Valley, the grandiose Lake Powell, winding Buckskin Pass near Kanab, and the Mojave Desert.  I really wanted to enter The Wave lottery again, but 50 mph winds changed my mind and I decided it was time to go home.  The Wave will have to wait!!   It was truly a beautiful fall tour, but I was happy to get home after my longest separation from my bride in our 20 years together.

Kolobs Canyon
Kolobs Canyon Zion National Park
Rural Utah

Green River

Near Green River Campground, DNM
Green River

Echo Park is Down There Somewhere
Right of Way!

Camping on Rabbit Ears Pass

Rabbit Ears

Yampa River Valley
Grand Lake, Colorado

RMNP beautiful peaks and pine beetle forest

Really Winter on Top of the Never Summer Mountains

Who's Watching Who

My cabin at Chautauqua
Boulder's Flatirons

Boulder from Flagstaff Mountain

South Park

Collegiate Peaks

Mount Princeton - Hey, I've Climbed that Peak; it's a 14er!!

Slumgullion and a Recipe

Canadian Geese taking a Rest

From Wolf Creek Pass Looking South

Near Tamarron Resort, North of Durango

Engineer Mountain

Lime Creek Road - Has gotten very rough!!

Spud Lake

The Needles

La Plata Canyon Road heading into La Plata Canyon!!

Uncle John's Cabin - built in the 1950's - NO DAMNED GENERATORS!!

I love my Tilt Shift Lens - Very Trippy!!

Old Photo of La Plata City in John's Cabin

Your Host & Narrator

View from Shaila's House

Lewis Peak as seen from John's Cabin

Time Lapse of Clouds from Cabin


The Needles as seen from Kennebec Pass, La Plata Mountains


Columbine & Columbus Basins, La Plata Mountains as seen from Sharkstooth Trail

Jill & Mike

Centenniel Peak, formerly known as Banded Mountain

Crazy Tilt Shift OOF of Sharkstooth

Columbus Basin, La Plata Mountains

Heading Home past Sleeping Ute

Sleeping Ute in the Early Morning

Lake Powell

Cool Work of Nature in Buckskin Canyon