Fall in the Rockies

October 01, 2014  •  1 Comment

Well, fall is officially here in Rocky. The peaks are covered with snow, the leaves are gone, and the valleys at night are constantly filled with elk bugles. Before the snow fell I was able to get in some pretty great day hikes and overnight trips so I wanted to share the photos from those trips and some random wildlife photos I captured recently as well.

A few weeks ago was my first trip down to Wild Basin. A group of us headed up to Sandbeach Lake for the day in some pretty overcast weather. We started out in the clouds and as we climbed up we were greeted with a foggy view of the lake. Eventually the clouds broke and the sun created my first ever view of a fog-bow over the lake. Then we headed to the other side of the lake and got a great shot of Mount Meeker in the background.

Beers and BeachBeers and Beach

Sandbeach Lake and Beers

Fogbow on SandbeachFogbow on Sandbeach

Fog-bow over Sandbeach Lake

Fishing Sandbeach LakeFishing Sandbeach Lake

Fishing the Point

Mount Meeker from Sandbeach LakeMount Meeker from Sandbeach Lake

Meeker over Sandbeach Lake

The following weekend we headed back to Wild basin but this time to Thunder Lake. We were lucky enough to be able to stay in the Ranger Patrol cabin for two nights right at the mouth of the lake. It was REALLY windy so it was really nice to not have to crash in a tent. I was told that there was a possibility that we might see some aurora so I decided to head out at midnight to see if I might see a glimpse, but no dice. The views at night under the moon weren’t too shabby even without the aurora.

Relaxing at Thunder Lake CabinRelaxing at Thunder Lake Cabin

Sunset from the Porch

Thunder Lake at NightThunder Lake at Night

Thunder Lake under the Stars

Thunder Lake at Night (2)Thunder Lake at Night (2)

Thunder Lake under the Stars

That next morning was a pretty awesome sunrise. It was still too windy for a great reflection shot, but there was some great color in the sky. After we had breakfast we decided to hike up from the Lake over the Bench towards the Lion Lakes area. I was so surprised to see so many flowers in bloom. It was fall already in other areas of the park and I found a spot that looked like it was spring. In addition to stepping 2 months back in time, the views from up there were AMAZING. It was a high alpine area that was surrounded by big mountains. We had great views of Longs, Meeker, Alice, Chiefshead and the whole continental divide. The lakes and waterfalls up there were pretty cool as well.

Sunrise at Thunder LakeSunrise at Thunder Lake

Sunrise from Thunder Lake

Sunrise at Thunder Lake (2)Sunrise at Thunder Lake (2)

Sunrise from Thunder Lake

Sunrise at Thunder Lake (4)Sunrise at Thunder Lake (4)

Sunrise from Thunder Lake

First Light at Thunder LakeFirst Light at Thunder Lake

Sunrise from Thunder Lake

Pilot Mountain and Mount AlicePilot Mountain and Mount Alice

Ponds on the Alpine Bench

Reading the MapReading the Map

Orienting Ourselves

Pilot, Alice, Cheifshead, Longs, and Meeker PanoramaPilot, Alice, Cheifshead, Longs, and Meeker Panorama

Alpine Bench Panorama

Cascades and ChiefsheadCascades and Chiefshead

Snowbank Falls

Lion Lake No. 2 and Chiefshead PeakLion Lake No. 2 and Chiefshead Peak

Lion Lake No. 2

Lion Lake No 2. and CascadesLion Lake No 2. and Cascades

Snowbank Falls

Cascades and Cheifshead (2)Cascades and Cheifshead (2)

Snowbank Falls

Queens Crown and Chiefshead PeakQueens Crown and Chiefshead Peak

Queens Crown and Chiefshead Peak

Tundra Beers in Wild BasinTundra Beers in Wild Basin

Afternoon Beers

Meeker, Longs, and ChiefsheadMeeker, Longs, and Chiefshead

Lush in September

Posing at Thunder Lake CabinPosing at Thunder Lake Cabin

Obligatory Goofy Cabin Photo

On the way back down we took the long route so we could swing by Ouzel Falls and Calypso Cascades. After this trip I was kind bummed it took me so long to get down to WB but I guess better late than never.

Ouzel FallsOuzel Falls

Ouzel Falls

Calypso CascadesCalypso Cascades

Calypso Cascades

The weekend after the Thunder Lake trip we planned another trip to a Ranger patrol cabin; the Fern Lake cabin. I had still not done the Bear Lake to Fern Lake through hike yet so we decided to head in from Bear Lake and boy am I glad we did. The fall color at the lake was UNREAL. It was a prefect bluebird day and the colors were peaking. 

Hallett and Bear Lake Fall Colors PanoramaHallett and Bear Lake Fall Colors Panorama

Fall Colors at Bear Lake

Hallett and Fall ColorsHallett and Fall Colors

and more...

Hallett and Fall Colors (2)Hallett and Fall Colors (2)

and more...

Gold AspensGold Aspens

aaaaand more...

We then made our way to Fern Lake and just decided to swim, lay out in the sun, and drink G&T’s for the rest of the day. That night I went out again to check out the stars and the night sky from Fern Lake is pretty nice. The next morning we hiked back up to Odessa Lake to watch the sunrise and it was definitely worth it. We watched the sunrise from the mouth of the lake and then walked around to the head of it where there was a little granite sand beach. There were some really spectacular views from there. 

Milkyway over Fern LakeMilkyway over Fern Lake

Milky Way from Fern Lake

First Light at Odessa LakeFirst Light at Odessa Lake

Sunrise at Odessa Lake

Little Matterhorn ReflectionsLittle Matterhorn Reflections

Reflections in Odessa Lake

Odessa Lake reflections (2)Odessa Lake reflections (2)

East Shore of Odessa Lake

Odessa BeachOdessa Beach

Odessa Lake Beach

Odessa Lake PanoramaOdessa Lake Panorama

Odessa Lake Panorama

Then we headed back to the cabin, made breakfast, went for a swim, and got ready for a hike up to Loomis Lake, just above Spruce Lake. While I was putting my shoes on a short-tailed weasel stuck his head out from around the corner and I was able to grab a shot of him before he ran back into the woods. On the way up to Loomis we found a really cool little waterfall and a small pond. We hung out at the lake for a little while, jumped in and swam, and then headed back to the cabin for beers, dinner, and an after dinner sunset. That night a few friends hiked in after work and resupplied us with more beer and a bottle of Tequila. All in all it was a great weekend as well. 

Short-tailed WeaselShort-tailed Weasel

Short-tailed Weasel

Waterfall Above Spruce LakeWaterfall Above Spruce Lake

Falls above Spruce Lake

Pond Below Loomis LakePond Below Loomis Lake

Pond Above Spruce Lake

Sunset at Fern LakeSunset at Fern Lake

Fern Lake Sunset

To cap it off, we had a great sunrise at Fern Lake and I was able to grab good shots as well as a few more fall color shots on the hike out to the Fern Lake trailhead.

Debris in Fern LakeDebris in Fern Lake

Early Light at Fern Lake

East Shore of Fern LakeEast Shore of Fern Lake

Early Light at Fern Lake

Group at Fern Lake CabinGroup at Fern Lake Cabin

Group Shot at Fern Lake Cabin

Summer into FallSummer into Fall

Spring into Fall

Relaxing in the AspensRelaxing in the Aspens

Fall Colors at the Pool

We have also had some pretty great wildlife viewing experiences lately. I FINALLY saw some bighorn rams this past weekend up at Forest Canyon overlook. There were 6 of them just hanging out chewing their cud. I would have stayed longer but it was a huge SHIT SHOW in the park this last weekend. I am pretty sure the entire population of Colorado was in the park at the same time. There were no places to park at all on the east side and the traffic was bumper-to-bumper so we bailed back home.

Just the BoysJust the Boys

Rams chewing their cudRams chewing their cud

Funny Faces (2)Funny Faces (2)

Ram in the Sun PanoramaRam in the Sun Panorama

My Favorite of the Bunch

Then after work last night I came home to some mule deer bucks and elk in my front yard. So we just hung out near the house and watched the bulls spar and listened to the bugles into the evening. Fall is really a great time around here.

Buck Mule DeerBuck Mule Deer

The Upper HandThe Upper Hand

My Favorite of the Bunch

Refereeing the MatchRefereeing the Match

Evenly MatchedEvenly Matched

Sparring in the Front YardSparring in the Front Yard

On a personal note I only have 3 weeks left before I leave here. I will pack up head to Denver, then fly out east to check out my photos in the Smithsonian. We hope to check out some parks while back east, hang out in DC, and then come back in time to move up to YELLOWSTONE for the winter. I am pretty excited to work for the World’s first National Park, especially in the winter. I got to visit last winter and it was a pretty awesome experience.

I hope everyone else is doing well and if you happen to be in the Mammoth area of Yellowstone, be sure to let me know beforehand so we can potentially meet up. Thanks again for all the support and I will talk to everyone soon!


P.S. Here are two photos from 10/2/14 showing the snow.

Moraine ParkMoraine Park

Moraine Park

Stormy Hallett and FlattopStormy Hallett and Flattop

Stormy Hallett and Flattop


Keith Langill(non-registered)
That fog-bow picture is stunning, great work! I got lucky enough to catch one over the Pacific Ocean in Ocean Beach, San Diego -- that shot was featured on APOD. But yours is far superior -- very inspiring!
No comments posted.

January February March April May (2) June July (1) August September October (1) November (1) December
January February (1) March April May June July (1) August September October November (1) December
January February (1) March April (1) May June (1) July August September October (1) November December
January February March April (1) May June July August September (1) October November December (1)
January February March (1) April (1) May June (1) July (2) August September October November (1) December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December