Rocky Mountains

All posts tagged Rocky Mountains

At the visitor’s center near the entrance of the Rocky Mountains National Park we had inquired about a good hiking trail, and the lovely lady at the desk advised us to hike up to Lulu City. Lulu City used to be a very active mining town at the end of the 19th century, and there were supposedly a lot of old things left there from back in those days. Old huts, old tools, coal carriages, etc. etc. At least that’s what we understood (but we must’ve misunderstood).
We took the hike up and somewhere half way I spotted a grey bird disappearing into the trees. Strangely, we hadn’t seen many birds during our stay, so we upped the pass and went for the trees where I saw the bird go in. We set our gear down, looked around for the bird, which, we figured, had continued its trip, and took a gulp of water in the mean time. We almost choked in our water when all of a sudden the bird came flying directly at us. No joke, we had to duck otherwise it would’ve been a collision. The bird, a grey jay, settled contently on a branch in the tree behind us. So close we could touch it (we were tempted, but we didn’t).

D800, ISO100, 1/250mm @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

So this was shot with a 50mm prime. It was THAT close 🙂
Another one of those awesome experiences! The little rascal seemed to be really curious. It didn’t seem scared at all and it let us take pictures for 5 minutes easily, sitting like this, sitting like that, hopping onto another branch and posing some more. I’m not quite sure if these birds are regularly fed by hikers. Maybe that’s why it seemed so tame. Or then… (I’ll go with this:) my Buddy Wayne and I send out such friendly vibes that the animals just feel comfortable around us 😀 (Ssssh! Let me have this thought, don’t spoil it!).

Eventually it took off, and so did we. We packed up our gear again, and continued to Lulu City, where we eventually arrived.

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 70-200mm

I don’t know if we completely missed the whole thing, but this sign was the only thing left we could find that indicated any activity or any sign of previous life in this location. There was absolutely nothing else here but this sign, trees, a lot of snow, and the baby Colorado River. But hold on…
There were… birds? No kidding!
And… was that the same bird as the one we photographed awhile ago?
We continued to the baby Colorado River where we set down our gear again for a break and to freshen up. Dragging a bag with about 15kgs of camera gear for 1,5 hours hiking through the snow uphill and downhill and more uphill gets you warm and sweaty. As I was about to get down and take some water to splash in my face, the little fellow almost hit me again, and went to sit right in front of me on a log, taking a sip as well.

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200m

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

(had the big lens on, it was too close to focus properly)

And there, in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, I got a crazy idea. These birds had been flying around so close, had seemed so unafraid…
I stood up, spread my arms wide, and waited.
And not for long.
It appeared that there wasn’t only one bird, but there were three. And all three took turns in landing on my hand, nibbling a bit on my fingers (one of them actually really bit my thumb!! 😀 ), and then taking off again. And that went on for about 10 minutes or so. My Buddy Wayne stood there, camera a-ready, and shooting pictures, as much in awe as I was (no food involved here, so yeah, I really think Wayne and I sent out such friendly vibes that the birds just felt really comfortable 🙂 ). (Sssssh!! Don’t spoil it!! 😀 ).
So Wayne was supposed to send me a couple of those pictures he shot of me with the birds, but he hasn’t gotten around to doing that. Will add them later, once he has.

And after that little play we took a few portraits still, and then we head back to “camp”.
Even if “Lulu City” wasn’t really worth the hike, this little get-together with our Jay-friends made it absolutely worth the time.

All with D800, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

All D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

I tend to think I’m a social (sociable) guy. But I know I also love solitude. I love to go out by myself, to places where I know I’m alone, where no one can hear me, where I can hear no one.
When I was in the Rocky Mountains with my Buddy Wayne we had an absolute great time, spent together of course, mostly. But there was one moment when we were supposed to shoot the sunrise over Grand Lake, but replanned because there was too thick a fog. We went out on a hike instead and at some point I ventured one way and he the other. I veered off the path and walked about half a mile or so into the bushes, until just at the edge of the forest line.

D800, ISO800, 1/1000 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO800, 1/1000 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

See, not very good for sunrise, or what? 😀

Got some surprising company in the end:

D800, ISO800, 1/1000 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO800, 1/1000 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2 III

D800, ISO800, 1/1000 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2 III

D800, ISO800, 1/1000 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2 III


It was awesome. Yeah, it could’ve been a black bear, I realize. In which case it would’ve still been awesome, but things may not have ended in the same way as they did 😀
It’s a completely different feeling than when you pull up behind the other 10 cars with people (and their pockets / cellphones with flash).

I can write loooong pieces of text about the landscapes.
They’re gorgeous. And they’re many. And they look different every day, especially when you have a sunny day one day and snow the next, and sun again the day after that.
Have a look:

Valley with a river running in between two mountain ranges

D800, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm

Yellow line dividing the road running off into the distance

D800, ISO400, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2

Boulders on top of a mountain in Rocky Mountain national park

D800, ISO100, 1/30 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 14-24mm

Logs in the partly frozen water of a lake

D800, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 50mm

Dirt road leading into the fog and into the Rocky Mountains

D800, ISO100, 1/30 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

Waterfall in a small stream covered with fallen trees

D800, ISO400, 1/4 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

Water fall in a small canyon in Grand Lake in the Rocky Mountains

D800, ISO100, 8 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm, Singh-Ray VariND

Sunset over Grand Lake

D800, ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

After all the fuss with the cards and then the image theft, I finally got around to do something with my images.
I’ll spread it out over a few posts, so I don’t have to write everything in one go, and you get to take your time looking at the scenery 😉

The initial idea was that we were going to photograph the fall colors. But my Buddy had already warned me to take warm clothes, because the weather was turning around rapidly.
And so it did. I flew in to Denver late one night. We slept a night, and went for a ride in Rocky Mountain National Park, slept for another night and went back along the same route.
These were two completely different days. Two completely different worlds. It was both amazing and stunning. But I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

Colorado River (as a baby)

D800, ISO400, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 14-24mm

And 24 hours later:

Colorado River (as a baby)

D800, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 14-24mm

Traffic sign without snow

D800, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 50mm

And 24 hours later:

Traffic sign after a night of snow

D800, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm