14er Report: Snow in August

Longs Peak in Cloud. Last light of the day and an August snow dusting. Colorado, 2014
Longs Peak in Cloud. Last light of the day and an August snow dusting. Colorado, 2014

Just an FYI report today…

It appears that the window for climbing the more technical 14ers–Longs Peak, for example–is closing. The above photograph was made on August 28, a day after a wall of cold precipitation moved through the Colorado high country. Note the light, white dusting just to the left of the two obvious snow patches. It doesn’t look like much from a distance, but that is a few inches of fresh snow, probably extending down below the 13,000-foot level.

With snow, the Keyhole Route gets a bit dicey without proper experience and gear. Even if the white stuff melts, you may still have the problem of frozen ice in the early morning on the Homestretch, which would make that section as hairy as a Greek canary.

I saw a recent report on 14ers.com that talked of snow down to 12,500′ in the Elk Range (Castle, Capitol, Maroon, Pyramid) with maybe 4-6 inches near the summits.

It is always possible that this monsoon weather will back off a bit and we could have a brief spell of summer-like conditions sometime in late September or October, but you can’t count on it.

So, if your goal is to climb the 14ers without too much of an adrenaline rush, maybe plan the easy hikes for early season (May-early July) and late season (Sept-Oct) or winter, leaving the harder routes for “prime time” (late July-August).

And here is another perspective–a Longs Peak image captured on August 29 (the day after the above image) from the slopes of Old Man Mountain in Estes Park. The snow is still visible on the sloping north face of Longs, above the Diamond.

Longs Peak from Old Man Mountain. Estes Park, Colorado, 2014
Longs Peak from Old Man Mountain. Estes Park, Colorado, 2014

One Last “Shot” (Cheyenne, Wyoming)

Praise the Lord and Pass the Colt .45. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Praise the Lord and Pass the Colt .45. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014

Hmmm…I wonder what the general opinion on gun control might be in Big, Wild, Wonderful Wyoming? Maybe I’ll jes mosey on over to *Dick’s place and ask ’em what he thinks. Heck, maybe he’ll wanna come along down to my Texas spread fer a bit o’ quail huntin’!

*Our local Wyoming celeb, former Veep, Dick Cheney.

Cheyenne, the old downtown

And some images of a fading past…

There are always some who call those days “the good ole days”. Then there are others who point out the many ways in which those days weren’t actually so wunderbar. Which are you? Maybe it is sort of a mixture of both sentiments?

I do lament the passing of some pretty nice wall advertising art (the “fading ads”, “brick ads”, or “ghost signs“) in old Cheyenne. I have no idea if the City fathers and mothers have plans to preserve any of it, but it would be terrific to have it restored. (See my previous posts on this subject at Henry George Cigars and Ghost Signs.)

The Wrangler #2. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The Wrangler #2. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Becker Hotel. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Becker Hotel. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Printing and Lithography. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Printing and Lithography. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Dooley Dually Tires. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Dooley Dually Tires. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Wyoming Dually. Cheyenne, 2014
Wyoming Dually. Cheyenne, 2014
Tony's Car Sales. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Tony’s Car Sales. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Marv's Pawn Shop. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Marv’s Pawn Shop. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The Atlas Theater. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The Atlas Theater (and, formerly, Hotel?). Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The Hole on Lincolnway. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
“The Hole” on Lincolnway. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The American Legion Post. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The American Legion Post. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Waterbeds at the Firebird. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Waterbeds at the Firebird. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The Fading Cowboy. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The Fading Cowboy. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The Railroad Terminal Museum. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The Railroad Terminal Museum. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014

Cheyenne, and Wyoming

Gunslinger Village. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Gunslinger Village. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014

If you want to get away from it all, Wyoming (and Cheyenne) might not be a bad choice–as long as you don’t mind a bitter bit of wind during the winter months!

Here are some interesting factoids about Cheyenne and the State of Wyoming:

–Cheyenne, the capitol, has only some 90,000 souls in the entire metro area. This is about double what it was in 1958 when I was born there. It definitely still has a small town feel to it. State government and the US Air Force (F.E. Warren AFB) are the biggest employers.

–The wildest time to be in Cheyenne is surely the last full week in July when the “Grandaddy of ’em All”, the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo, hits the town–parades, gunfights (mostly simulated, of course!), bronc and bull riding, chuck wagon races, concerts, dances, Hell’s Half Acre, melodrama, art shows, antique cars, bikers, cowboy breakfasts, celebrity visits, and so on.

–The entire State of Wyoming contains fewer than 600,000 individuals–that makes it the least populous State in the Union…and all these people crammed into 253,000 square kilometers of mountains and prairie, which is an area that is larger than the entire United Kingdom (or, for another comparison, half the size of Spain).

–The economic movers in Wyoming? Minerals (coal, oil, and gas) and tourism. And cattle (cattlemen actually ran the State for a period…some say they still do).

–There is no personal state income tax in Wyoming, and taxes in general are very low across the board.

–The hot tourist spots are, of course, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park (the latter, literally “hot” with its geysers!). Also to be visited: Devil’s Tower National Monument, Independence Rock, Fossil Butte National Monument, and the Jim Bridger Wilderness and the Wind River Mountains (Oh, the fly fishing to be had!).

Gannett Peak, at 13,809′, is the highest point in Wyoming (the Grand Teton is 34′ shorter!) Gannett is considered one of the more difficult State high points in the country, requiring a few days to pack in and technical mountaineering/climbing expertise to get to the tippy top.

The Doorknob, #2. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The Doorknob, #2. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014

Small Town Documentary

The Wrangler, #4. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
The Wrangler, #4. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014

Yes, I’d call Cheyenne, Wyoming a town. Maybe not “small” anymore (it has grown over the years, after all)…but almost “small”.

If you were to challenge yourself with a photojournalism project, how would you document the spirit of such a town? What would you focus on? Do you photograph the new, the latest and greatest, the sparkling and the darling? Or, do you zero in on the decadent, the past, the has been, the ghosts? Do you look at the buildings? Or the people? High class people? Working class? Immigrants? The politicos? Or maybe you could emphasize activities? Or work? Play? Night life, perhaps? Do you investigate a specific neighborhood or section of town? Do you use color? Black and white?

There are many, many variables…perspectives…approaches. Soooo many choices.

How you do it depends on…well, it depends on you. What is it that captures your attention? What interests you? Follow your gut…your instincts…your feelings…your eyeballs. This will help you narrow the project down to something cohesive and thematic.

In my case, I guess I’m fascinated by the stories told by the rust and the peeling paint, the phantom relics of the past found in the old downtown area that have not yet been scraped away to make way for “progress”. Ah, the stories they could tell.

In a day or two, I’ll post a selection of images from a short photo safari to this town of my birth. I’m still doing the post-processing. Stand by.

Welcome to Cheyenne Postcard. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014
Welcome to Cheyenne Postcard. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2014

Tejay Wins, but Jens REALLY Wins!

Tejay and Teammates. Boulder, Colorado, August 24, 2014
Tejay and Teammates. Boulder, Colorado, August 24, 2014

Today’s Stage 7, the last stage of the USA Pro Challenge Cycling Race, started in Boulder, went over Lookout Mountain in Golden, then finished in Denver. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), once a Boulder local but now living in Aspen, won the overall classification for the second year in a row. But, it was Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) who, for me and a pile of other fans, really stole the show.

This would be the last time Jens would ride his bike as a professional–he was finally retiring after many years of competition…He has been riding his bike for 33 years…He will be 43 in two weeks…He’s the “old man” of the peloton…He could be the father of some of his race competitors…He is from the former East Germany…He is very gracious, likeable, and eloquent…AND, he is (now, was) one of the most aggressive bike riders in the pro peloton. He is always on the attack, always in the breakaways. Sometimes it works and he wins, sometimes it doesn’t and he’s chased down by the sprinter teams in the final meters of the race. Either way, he has always been an inspirational rider to watch for his 100% full-gas, never-say-die attitude. One of his favorite quotes: “Shut up, legs!” (Said, I presume, when the lactic acid is about to blow his muscles apart.)

Witness today: Jens made the initial break of twelve riders, was the first over Lookout Mountain, and hammered away until there was only one other with him (Javier Megias, one of the diabetic riders of Novo Nordisk) in the final circuits in Denver. Alas, it was not to be and Jens and Javier were caught with one lap to go. Jens still came away with the Most Aggressive Rider Award, as he certainly should have!

So…rewind. Mid-morning, I rode my bike the ten minutes over to the Boulder, Pearl Street, start line to watch the festivities and see what I might photograph.

One thing I have learned…I am NOT an event photographer. In cycling, I prefer to leave the action images to Graham Watson. My eye strays from the main event and it tends to wander off to other things for some reason. Such as…

Madonna Queues Up. Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Madonna Queues Up. Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Pennant Profile. Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Pennant Profile. Boulder, Colorado, 2014
The Vagitarian Display, The Hill. Boulder, Colorado, 2014
The Vagitarian Display, The Hill. Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Discs. Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Discs. Boulder, Colorado, 2014

So, no closeups of exciting race action…No shots of the pro peloton…The closest I could come to documenting a pro bike race was this:

Pre-Race, Awaiting the Team Bus (Road Work Ahead). Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Pre-Race, Awaiting the Team Bus (Road Work Ahead). Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Olympic Team, 2032. Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Olympic Team, 2032. Boulder, Colorado, 2014

And, in honor of Jens Voight’s retirement…

Jens Voigt, The King. Boulder, Colorado, 2014
One of the many Jens fans. Boulder, Colorado, 2014

Call of the Wild Mountain

Pinnacle Sunburst. Sawtooth, Colorado, 2014
Pinnacle Sunburst. Sawtooth, Colorado, 2014

The mountain sat upon the plain
In his eternal chair,
His observation omnifold,
His inquest everywhere.

The seasons prayed around his knees,
Like children round a sire:
Grandfather of the days is he,
Of dawn the ancestor.

The Mountain, by Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886

But…maybe Emily had it all wrong. Maybe its “her” and “grandmother”. As in the Pachamama.

14er Report #7: Mt. Evans and West Evans (Late Summer, via Bierstadt and Sawtooth)

Cirrus Over Bierstadt, #1. From Mt. Evans, Colorado, 2014
Cirrus Over Bierstadt, #1. From Mt. Evans, Colorado, 2014

 

From the Guanella Pass Trailhead, the Sawtooth is pretty awe-inducing. To think that there is actually a trail that traverses high across the west face of that massive precipice!

Sawtooth-Bierstadt Massif. Colorado, 2014
Sawtooth-Bierstadt Massif. Colorado, 2014

That is what excited me about this trip and it certainly lived up to its fame.

This loop is fairly long, so make sure you are in good shape and you leave the trailhead nice and oily…er, early. Plan on 11 hours or so if you are in middling shape and make sure you are on your way down no later than noon to avoid getting busted by a mid-day thunderbumper and its associated electrically-charged javelins.

As I do each of these trips, I am slowly refining my hiking and photography gear–trying to lighten the load and make things as convenient as possible. I haven’t arrived at the ideal setup yet, but I am slowly moving that way. In this Trip Report, I have added a “Photography Issues” section to address what I am learning about trying to pack in with quality (heavy!?) photographic equipment. Click here for the complete Trip Report and a veritable cornucopia of wonderful images!