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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Blood, Sweat and Tears of Joy: A Dazzling Interplay Of Light and Shadow, Clouds and Color,

With due respect for a forecast that called for afternoon thunderstorms, and considering our "Jello" plan for a lengthy hike above timberline traversing the Dragon's Back's long, exposed ridge line—we were half asleep at the wheel well before old Sol shed light on Lovely Ouray.

Hell will freeze over and Heaven will go up in flames before my vocabulary pays proper justice to our many and sundry Red Mountain summits. I'm talking an unlikely airy range of oxidized iron-ore that defies description and, more often than not, a camera's capacity to capture its unique un-reality.   

The above photos (minus the red mountain) are representative of a typical summer hike in our "backyard" San Juan Mountain Range...all green and woodsy, interspersed with waning remnants of the previous winter's snow. 

The photo below is the exception, the untypical, the mold-breaking other-worldly Red Mountains. This gift usually comes with a price-tag...that of slogging switchbacks through boring stands of dark timber. But hey, you be the judge on whether Heaven is worth just a little bit of Hell...

This, to us, is worth all the enduring of shade, bugs, and tricky high stream crossings that leaves one spending the rest of the day slogging along in squishy boots and soggy socks. 

"The Ponds;" always good for a "reflection" shot or two. It marks the beginning, of sorts, where switchbacking is replaced by a wandering route of one's own design...depending on just how steep-tolerant mood and legs are. 

Again and again, we see evidence of last winter's record-setting avalanche season...trees, be they uprooted, bent over, or snapped like toothpicks, litter the base of mega "runs."

Above timberline...crisp clean air, with nothing to block 360 degrees of heavenly views. This is where the ridge-route to Red Mountain #1 steepens...a test for lungs and resolve.

Sometimes it's easier to slog snow than stumble up through loose angular rock. 

Above, Bobbie chips away at our goal...one baby step at a time. The Ponds, way down in the basin, mark our progress. In the distance is the Jeep Trail that Leon ran down in the Alpine Marathon.

The "Lure."

Almost there...
The Top!  12,600 feet, give or take, and just shy of 4 miles.

The Dragon's Back (the ridge, not Bobbie)
To the untrained eye, most of the remaining photos might appear to be redundant. But it was an exciting day to be on top due to well spaced, fast moving clouds. Note the "spotlight" effect...as sun highlights various portions of our surround in the midst of shade... a different scene minute to minute.

My favorite!

Thunder rolls in the distance. Time to head down...

A look back up to where we were...

Reflecting Ponds

Panoramas...scroll →

Shot from the top of Red Mountain 1

Another adventure near Lovely Ouray!
Peace out.
Mark and Bobbie


  1. Those Red Mountains leave me speechless. The blue sky and white clouds provide such a spectacular contrast to the color of the rock. That last panorama is outstanding!

    1. Thanks, Gayle/Jim. Hard to beat the iPhone's "Pano" mode. I have two Pano prints hanging on our walls...45 inches wide...and you can see the blades of grass near my feet, as well as mountain ranges fading to the horizon, all in perfect focus. I don't know how they do it, in fact, lately I've been comparing photos with my Canon with the iPhone's and the iPhone far outperforms such that if/when the Canon breaks or get's lost again, I'm not going to replace it.

  2. Those pictures say it ALL Mark & Bobbie and you two are so Fortunate to live in the shadow of such magnificent Nature.

    I can't help but think that Bev Doolittle must have visited these mountains in her early life :)

    Ok, sitting by for the next adventure......another heat wave coming so more snow scenes please.

    Stay Thirsty My Friends

  3. Awesome!! Just freakin' AWESOME!!!

  4. Replies
    1. Never tire of all the Red Mountains. Good thing Film and Processing costs are a thing of the past or I'd be broke :)

  5. Redundant? I think not! I could never get enough of that landscape. What a lovely backyard you have. You and Bobbie are fortunate to be able to explore it together.

  6. The Red Mountains with the patchy snow are spectacular! Your pano from the top is amazing!! Gorgeous photos!

    1. Thanks guys... some days it's almost unbelievable, like, is this real?

  7. finally some great pictures!!! have been saying that for almost 10 years now!! clark kent flatliner

  8. Looks like quality material for next years calendar!

  9. I Agree With MFH!! Beyond Words & I So Appreciate The Panoramic Shots.



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