Colorado Fall Colours 2012
I'm in the habit of booking a quarterly "wilderness adventure" months in advance so I can work my schedule around the dates. After having my first Colorado Adventure into the San Juan Mountains this past summer (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=20996
), I snapped up the offer from one of my Phoenix Coyotes' season ticket partners to use his Colorado Cottage during the height of fall colours. With a 5-day weekend booked the end of September/beginning of October, I began researching primo fall colour photo ops weeks in advance (check out viewtopic.php?t=7211
) narrowing down to 5 selected shots from various pro's and trying to figure out the exact location they captured their image.
"Highway and Farm near Telluride" by Shane McDermott (check out http://www.shanemcdermottphotography.co ... 2&lb=1&s=A
). Thanks to a tip from the photographer, I was able to confirm location on Airport Road (aka Last Dollar Road) near Telluride and enter GPS coordinates into Google Maps (N 37.952726, W -107.877846). My "interpretation" certainly doesn't do Shane McDermott's wonderful image any justice (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoID=tbd
), but I had fun doing the detective work trying to figure out the location (thanks also to Jake for the Google Maps tip!).
"Hay Rolls near Sneffels Range" by Derek von Briesen (check out http://www.pbase.com/sedonamemories/image/139539899
). Thanks to a tip from HippyPunkPirate (aka Jake) and others, it turns out that this is an iconic view taken from the Double R L Ranch along Highway 62 near Ridgway. It took a Colorado resident to clue me in that Double R L Ranch, as in Ralph R. Lauren's ranch, is known to everyone in the Ridgeway/Telluride area. Take County Road 9 off of Highway 62 and spot the field near GPS coordinates I entered into Google Maps (N 38.118892, W -107.829008). My "interpretation" certainly doesn't do Derek von Brieson's stellar image any justice (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoID=tbd
), but once again I had fun doing the detective work trying to figure out the location (thanks Jake for the Google tip - Google RRL Ranch images and see what you get...).
"Aspen Stand and Fence near Sneffels Range" by Jason Hatfield (check out http://www.mountainskyphotography.com/colorado
). Hats off to Jason and his most informative eBook "A Photographer's Guide to Colorado's Fall Colors - the Best Locations & How to Photograph Them" (check out http://www.mountainskyphotography.com/ebook.html
), 14 locations are in the San Juan Mountains! Take County Road 7 off of Highway 62 and spot the open field near GPS coordinates I entered into Google Maps (N 38deg 2' 58.42", W 107deg 48' 31.01"). My "interpretation" certainly doesn't do Jason Hatfield's awesome image any justice (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoID=tbd
), but once again I had fun doing the detective work trying to figure out the location (thanks Jason for sharing your inside information - highly recommend if you are heading into the San Juan's to pick up Jason's bargain priced eBook http://www.mountainskyphotography.com/ebook.html
"Dallas Divide in the Sneffels Range" by Darren Kilgore (check out http://mycolorado.org/landscapes/san_ju ... large.html
). I found the "Dallas Divide" on the map and noted a Scenic View turnout along Highway 62 between Telluride and Ridgway. Taking a leap of faith, I entered GPS coordinates into Google Maps (N 37.952726_tbd, W -107.877846_tbd) and hoped for the best. Although my "interpretation" certainly doesn't do Darren Kilgore's splendid image any justice (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoID=tbd
), I had fun exchanging thoughts with about 20 other photographers jamming the turnout along Highway 62 trying to capture an image in the waning afternoon light.
"Wilson Mesa Property for Sale - $12,995,000" by unknown realtor (advertisement had photo of San Miguel Mountains reflecting off lake surrounded by flaming yellow aspens - unfortunately no internet link). Armed only with a real estate ad from a Telluride Homes magazine I picked up at a Telluride gas station during my July 2012 visit, I looked for various clues in the photo and the map and could only conclude that this had to be Woods Lake on Wilson Mesa. Taking another leap of faith, I entered GPS coordinates into Google Maps (N 37.952726_tbd, W -107.877846_tbd) and marked a route along Fall Creek Road that seemed to connect to Woods Lake. Although my "interpretation" doesn't justify the real estate asking price (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoID=tbd
), I had fun meeting a photographer from Maryland (sorry, forgot your name!) also trying to capture the perfect reflection off the lake.
DAY #1 - Saturday 9/29
After a Friday airplane commute to and from our Diabetes division in Northridge CA, I headed on the road early Saturday to start a 5-day weekend with Lynn and the dogs at the Danzl Cottage along the Dolores River between Dolores CO and Telluride CO. Lynn packed everything we needed except some choice Colorado brews. Stopping at the Dolores Liquor Store, I picked up a 6 pack of Dark Lager by Durango Brewing Company (Durango CO) and 90 Shilling Ale by O'Dell Brewing Company (Fort Collins CO). I thought it was strange that none of the Dolores Brewery or Telluride Brewery beers were available here. Arriving at the Danzl Cottage with about an hour of daylight, I got the well pump primed and the hot water tank filled (while evacuating all the airlocks) and the electric heats plugged in and fired-up (low of 29degF forecast for tonight). With the cottage up and running, time to focus on tonight's BBQ dinner - burgs and dogs...
DAY #2 - Sunday 9/30
After rustling up breakfast of maple sausages and eggs on the BBQ, we loaded up the F-150 and headed along Hwy 145 and the Dolores River Valley towards Telluride. There were multiple stops along the way taking in the riot of colour. Hard to judge if we missed the peak, some trees were bare, some were still green, others where ablaze in yellows and golds. Arriving in Telluride, we headed up Airport Road to find "Image #1" location to re-create Shane McDermott's "Highway and Farm near Telluride". As we rounded the first bend to the north, it was found! Near the Telluride Airport, the road becomes Last Dollar Road (IMO - a fall colour "must" route). We found a roadside clearing onto a bench outcrop that made for a perfect lunch location - mountain views, fall colours, perfect temperatures! After a Tibber-mode flurry of photo stops, we popped out onto Hwy 62 and headed east towards County Road #9 and the Double RL Ranch. Hay rolling was in progress, but not in the field captured by Derek von Briesen in "Image #2". I did find another field with the hay rolls in situ to create my own composition. Next on the list was County Road #7 to recreate "Image #3" by Jason Hatfield. CO#7 has a number of choice locations noted in Jason Hatfield's eBook and I think I found them all. With the sun beginning to set, we left CO#7 and headed back to Telluride (also discovering the Dallas Divide scenic viewpoint on Hwy 62 and recreating "Image #4"). With an alpenglow on the peaks, had enough light to show Lynn Bridal Veil Falls and downtown Telluride. It must have been 10pm when we got back to the Danzl Cottage and fired up the BBQ for our evening meal in the glow of the full moon. There was a strange banshee screaming at the moon - a bobcat in heat?
Hike of the Day
Dolores River Trail (actually an abandoned bridge and section of old Hwy 145 near Rico CO) ~5 miles.
DAY #3 - Monday 10/1
Perfect weather in the forecast again as we headed to Durango and up the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton. Animas Forks Ghost Town was the objective of the day - thwarted by a misplaced boulder hitting my skid plate and damaging an airflow/sound barrier plate. Unable to do a field repair, we heading back to Silverton to the lone garage mechanic for miles around. We removed the off-road customized airflow/sound barrier plate and were on our way. Adjusting our plans, we headed north on Hwy 555 towards Mineral Creek and Kendal Camp Ground for lunch. Next up, the Red Mountain Mining Area followed by Ouray, Ridgeway, and another stop at the Dallas Divide (another "Image #4" recreation attempt). Our adjusted plans allowed us to tour Fall Creek Road and the Wilson Mesa area in search of Woods Lake. To my great surprise, there was ample signage to Woods Lake where I made numerous attempts at recreating "Image #5". With all 5 of my "pre-work" images now in the bag (or on the FLASH card), it was time to drive back to Danzl Cottage and a choice steak waiting to be BBQ'd...
Hike of the Day
Woods Lake Campground Trail ~5 miles. Check out http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsint ... Campground
DAY #4 - Tuesday 10/2
Today's agenda includes CR38/Township Route 535 (aka Dunton Road - IMO another Fall colour "must" route) and the Lizard Head Wilderness area. With multiple photo ops along the route, we decided to take a lunch break on top of Stoner Mesa via CR-M/FR875 (aka Stoner Mesa Road). I found a meadow/camp area on the top of Stoner Mesa surrounded by aspen stands on every side where we broke out the tailgating chairs and had lunch. IMO - Stoner Mesa Road had the BEST Fall colours of any route we had been on during our 5-day weekend. We had time to hike a few miles towards Navajo Lake from the Kilpacker TH and The Meadows. Great views of the San Miguel Mountains and the Lizard Head Wilderness area!
Hike of the Day
Kilpacker Trail ~5 miles (intersects with Navajo Lake Trail http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=13715
). Check out http://4cornershikestell.blogspot.com/2 ... trail.html
DAY #5 - Wednesday 10/3
Getaway Day - back home to the Valley heat in Ahwatukee. Quite the contrast being treated to 5 days of 72degF Hi and 29degF Lo in the Colorado San Juan Mountains...
MUCHO GRACIAS to the Danzl Family for the use of their Colorado Cottage on the Dolores River
Many elk, deer, mountain goats, beaver, and bald eagles
No TV, internet, or cell phone reception
1 tank of gas from Phoenix to Colorado
5-days in the San Juan Mountains
420 images on 2 cameras
Spectacular fall colours