The varied landscapes of Colorado

July 18, 2022  •  1 Comment

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Back in June, I drove out to Colorado.  From chasing storms in the eastern plains to hiking above the treeline in the Rockies and the sandstone canyons of western Colorado, here is a short sample of some of my favorite pictures from that trip. 

On June 7th, I targeted southeast Colorado in anticipation of seeing some storms.  Here I was able to view severe thunderstorms that prompted a few Tornado Warnings in the vicinity of Lamar.  I was a little late to this particular storm that produced a few brief tornado touchdowns, but I was still able to see the rotation in this storm near Two Buttes, Colorado. 

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You can see the rotation in this 3 minute 45 second time-lapse sped up 8x into 28 seconds here: 

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Next, it was time drive across the Rockies to the western side of the state. My destination was to Dinosaur National Monument along the Utah/Colorado border.  For now, I will just show my favorite location on the Colorado side of park. 

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This is Steamboat Rock in far western Colorado. It is located in an area called Echo Park, where the Green and Yampa Rivers meet.  I will highlight the pictures for the Utah side of the park for a future blog post.  

After seeing the landscapes of Dinosaur National Monument, is was time to head a little east to the high country toward Central Colorado. The Flat Tops Wilderness has become one of my favorite places to visit in the last few summers.  I have now been there 3 of the last 4 years. You can see a previous blog post of my previous visit to Flat Tops here. Here I climbed to this viewpoint of the late afternoon light hitting the rock formation known as The Chinese Wall. 

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The picture above was from 11,200 feet.  I would soon climb even higher on my next hike at Rocky Mountain National Park. It is one thing to hike above the treeline with a daypack.  It is another to haul a backpack with some camera and camping gear. This was the highest I have climbed while backpacking.

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The Boulderfield is a camping area at 12,700 feet inside Rocky Mountain National Park. I have never camped that high before. Hauling your gear to that elevation is quite a challenge in itself. Then you have to have to hope for good weather.  I had to wait about 2 hours for a thunderstorm to pass before I decided to proceed to climbing above the treeline. Being above treeline with lightning popping nearby can be a jarring experience that I now prefer to avoid.  Above is the rock formation called The Keyhole, just below 14,259 foot Longs Peak, which gives you an idea of what it looks like at about 13,000 feet. After all that effort, the perk is to experience sunset and sunrise at such high elevations. 

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This picture above is looking down on the appropriately named Chasm Lake, still partially frozen in June. The picture below is looking up at the summit of Longs Peak. 

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Over the week of the 4th of July, my wife and I went to Colorado for some leisure time in the Colorado Springs and Buena Vista area. We took the cogway up to the top of Pikes Peak and stayed at a fishing resort called Rainbow Lake, seen at sunset on the picture below. 

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We also drove up to the Continental Divide at Cottonwood Pass, just over 12,000 feet. Here we were able to catch some beautiful clouds reflections at this tarn in the late afternoon light. 

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We took my 10-month daughter, Helicity, on this trip as well. It was her first time to Colorado. 

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Unfortunately, we recently learned that her tumor that was removed back in February has returned.  She is currently in the first round of chemotherapy with a second round on the way in August.  This will probably be last blog post for the rest of the summer and I will be devoting a lot of my time the next couple of months taking care of her.  If you are the praying type, please say a prayer for her in hopes that she will finally beat cancer the second time around!    

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An architectural journey from Santa Fe to Taos

May 25, 2022  •  5 Comments

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I have been going back into the photo archives the last couple of weeks and I thought I would put together a project from a photo tour in 2019.  This project focuses on the adobe structures from Santa Fe to Taos in New Mexico. The picture above with a cumulonimbus cloud is from downtown Santa Fe. 

The "High Road to Taos" is a scenic highway that goes through old Spanish influenced villages in the foothills of the Sangre de Christo mountains between Santa Fe to Taos. Below are pictures along that highway from the villages of Nambe and Picuris. 

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For the color image above in Picuris, I was fortunate to be there at the right time when the shadow from the ladder creates a triangle around the window. To me, this picture is like having two great images in one.  One could also crop the image down as a vertical centered around the ladder, the window and the shadow.  

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The High Road to Taos ends near the town of Rancho de Taos, a few blocks from the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church. 

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This is probably one of the most painted and photographed churches in the nation, especially from the buttresses in the back. It has been famously painted by Georgia O'Keeffe and photographed by Ansel Adams. I have been here several times myself, and you can see a blog entry from my previous trip to this mission church. 

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Completion of its construction took from 1772 to 1815 and it looks much the same to this day. 

The final picture below is from Taos Pueblo. It is an ancient pueblo belonging to the Taos speaking tribe of the Native American tribe of Puebloan people. The Pueblos are considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States and is now designated to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
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On my last blog entry, I mentioned that my daughter was about to undergo major surgery to remove a tumor in her chest.  I am pleased to report that the tumor has been removed.  We will still get checkups every 3 months to make sure that the neuroblastoma doesn't reappear. However, for now, we are optimistic that we will be able to avoid any chemotherapy. Now at 8 months of age, she appears to be healthy.  Thanks to those of you who reached out to me with your support and prayers!

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The Garden Island of Kauai

February 13, 2022  •  4 Comments

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Over the start of the new year, I spent a week of vacation with my family on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. We stayed at the town of Princeville, on the north shore of the island.  Kauai is often nicknamed the "Garden Island" because of its lush vegetation created by the abundant rainfall.  It rained at least part of each day I was there.  Sometimes, the rain was soft and light. Other times, the rain was heavy enough to produce flooding.  The proximity of the sharp cliffs next to the warm ocean encourages humid air to rise quickly into a repeating cycle of condensation and rain. The interior portion of Kauai is considered to be the one of the wettest places in the United States, and among the top 10 in the world. In case you were wondering, the highest mountains in Kauai see an average of 384 inches of rain a year. The top 10 wettest places in the world can be found here

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If you look closely in the photo above, you can see waterfalls pouring off the steep cliffs. 

We had a beautiful view from our rental overlooking Hanalei Bay that included rainbows and sunsets.

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With its unique landscapes, many films and TV shows have been filmed here. Among some of the most famous movies are Jurassic Park, King Kong, Avatar and Lord of the Flies

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This beach (pictured above) was part of the film South Pacific. A couple of the more famous TV shows filmed on Kauai were Fantasy Island and Gilligan's Island

My favorite part of island is the Napoli Coast.  Here, you will see a rugged coastline that is only accessible by either boat, plane or foot.  I hiked a section of the famous Kalalau Trail that starts at Haena State Park. 

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I also recommend taking the drive along the top of Waimea Canyon that leads to the overlook pictured above, known as the Pu’u O Kila Lookout. This lookout gives a higher perspective of the Napoli Coast.

 

On a personal note, I thought I would take a little time to announce that my 5-month-old daughter has recently been diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer.  She will soon be undergoing surgery to have much of the malignant tumor removed from her chest. If you are the praying type, please pray for her to have a safe surgery and for a quick recovery.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

December 23, 2021  •  1 Comment

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It's been awhile since I have last written.  It has been a busy last few months for me.  My wife and I had our first baby, Helicity, on September 14th.  

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I haven't taken many pictures the last few months, but routines are starting to re-normalize again.  I hope to get back into travel and photography again in 2022.  I have trips planned to Kauai, Utah and Montana over the next year...as well as a few other states to be determined.  I will also get back into my usual routine of taking more pictures of Arkansas.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy 2022 to you and your family.

-Damon


More from the Colorado Rockies

August 31, 2021  •  1 Comment

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Earlier this summer, I went to Colorado.  I highlighted my trip to the Flat Tops Wilderness in my previous blog post, but here are some of the my favorites to other destinations in Colorado. 

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During the last weekend of June, a colder than normal weather disturbance brought a mix of rain and snow to South Zapata Lake, elevation 11,900 feet. If you closely in the photo above, you might see the raindrops hitting the lake and a light dusting of fresh snow on the peaks above. It was good timing for me to do my semi-regular tradition of climbing a 14,000 foot mountain each summer.  This year, I decided to tackle Mount Lincoln. At 14,293 feet, Mount Lincoln is the highest peak in Park County and about 10 miles south of Breckenridge. There was still about a 1/2 inch of snow leftover from the previous day. This is the view from Mount Lincoln with a small coating fresh snow mixed in with the bigger patches of snow, leftover from the winter and spring. 

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After a couple of tough hikes in tough conditions it was time to recover with some easier hikes in lower elevations.  One of the my favorite hikes was in the Routt National Forest, northeast of Steamboat Springs. It was here where I came across the best combination of large flowers in an aspen forest that I have ever seen!

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These showy flowers are known as "Mulesear".  

I would return to being above the treeline.  My favorite time to be at or above treeline is at dawn to watch the night turn into day. 

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The two pictures above are from Rocky Mountain National Park. The one below is from State Forest State Park.  

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You are also more likely to be treated to seeing some wildlife.  On my last trip to Colorado in 2019, I would have a close encounter with some mountain goats. This year, I would see moose and bighorn sheep. 

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My favorite destination was to Mirror Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  It involves a lengthy hike of about 15 miles roundtrip from the nearest parking lot.  However, if you are willing to hike that far, you are rewarded to one of the most photogenic mountains in Colorado.  The sharp point is called Lone Eagle Peak and it reflects well in the aptly named Mirror Lake. 

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I would also spend the night here on this clear moonless night and photograph The Milky Way.  I'll hopefully have those pictures up soon in another blog post. 

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