I am a fan of being in high places at sunrise and sunset. Just being there is exhilarating and, of course, the photographic possibilities are WAY better than you’ll find in the alley behind the local downtown Conoco station (for most nature photographers, anyway).
And…Colorado certainly has no shortage of high places, Mt. Evans being one of the most popular. At 14,265 sized-12 feet above mean sea level, and accessible in a mere two hours from Boulder and Denver in a dinosaur grease-fed vehicle most of the year, its summit ought to host your tripod at least once if you are in the area.
Last Sunday (two days before they closed down the entire road for the season), I drove up the narrow, black, asphalt ribbon in the darkness of the pre-dawn to Summit Lake–the final five miles of the road already being closed due to an early snowstorm the week before. The wind was pretty harsh…I had to keep the tripod at its lowest extension, bear down on it with all my weight, and wait for a brief lull in the gusts to press the shutter (once for mirror lock-up, and a second time to initiate exposure delay mode and shutter release). Then, I had to redo a few “takes” as I forgot that blowing wind could quickly cover the lens with tiny water droplets from the nearby lake, something not easily visible through the viewfinder in the low light of pre-sunrise. (Suggestion: always carry a cloth in your bag and check your lens between shots whenever you are near water.)
If you do plan on visiting Mt. Evans, as part of your pre-flight planning, I highly recommend you visit Karl Snyder’s excellent website, MountEvans.com. It is probably the best single source of information about the peak that you’ll find on the web. Pay attention to how to check for road closures and when the road will open and close for the season. Also, consider the altitude and your physical condition–fewer air molecules up there than you’ll find in Atlanta, Georgia, or even Denver for that matter. Finally, be prepared for any kind of weather–high winds, hail, lightning, rain, snow, sleet, scorching high altitude UV rays–at any time of day, at any time of year. You may even get all of those things in one lucky five-minute stretch in mid-July!
I prefer this location at sunrise and favor the summit itself, Summit Lake, and the viewpoint of the Chicago Lakes Basin for landscape panoramas. If you want to score a mountain goat or a pika, try the stretch from Summit Lake to the top.
Some results from Sunday morning…First a 15-second exposure of Summit Lake just before sunrise:
The view north, Chicago Lakes Basin Overlook: