basin peak

Southwest Colorado’s Alpine Loop National Backcountry Byway provides access to some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the Rockies. Here, jagged peaks up to 14,000 feet in elevation rise above rushing streams and wildflower-filled meadows. A few miles further West, the American Basin in Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area has a plethora of wildflowers including fields of Colorado’s state flower, the columbine. You can scale 14,000 foot Handies Peak with a long non-technical but demanding day hike. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands

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As thru-hikers who bypassed long stretches of the snow-covered Sierras move north, many will soon be arriving in the Washington Cascades.  I suspect – given that their perspective on ‘what is spectacular’ won’t be tainted by exposure to the High Sierra or anticipation of finishing their long walk at the border – that hikers may appreciate the beauty of the spectacular Cascades.

I am re-posting some of Randy Godfrey’s photos of the Glacier Peak area to give hikers a glimpse of what they have to look forward to. [Top - Glacier Peak, Middle Left - Dolly Creek Basin, Middle Right - Glacier Peak, Bottom - Mica Lake]  Randy, who is from Bellingham, Washington, has been hiking and climbing since he was 14 years old. He is a former trail worker, a trail surveyor and designer with the U.S. Forest Service and also worked 2 years as a Climbing Ranger for the Forest Service, Mount Baker Ranger District. He retired a couple of years ago from working 20 years as the Lead Gardener for Western Washington University in Bellingham.

In the shadow of Wheeler Peak at Great Basin National Park in Nevada, ancient bristlecone pine trees grow on rocky glacial moraines – creating a surreal and beautiful landscape. Bristlecone pines are the world’s longest living tree. At Great Basin, a 4,900+ year old tree was removed from the Wheeler Peak grove in 1964. Photo of Bristlecone Pine at sunset by Kelly Carroll, National Park Service.

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#TravelTuesday along Colorado’s Alpine Loop National Backcountry Byway with Guest Photographer Bob Wick!

Southwest Colorado’s Alpine Loop National Backcountry Byway provides access to some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the Rockies.  Here, jagged peaks up to 14,000 feet in elevation rise above rushing streams and wildflower filled meadows.  My favorite time to photograph here is in mid-late July when the wildflowers reach their peak.  Another amazing time is late September when the aspen turn the mountainsides golden.

Heading west from Lake City, make sure to stop at Cataract Gulch.  The trail here is a somewhat arduous but very rewarding climb along a forest clad stream plunging over rocks and falls.  Even a short hike up part of the trail offers great scenery and photo opportunities.

A few miles further West, the American Basin in Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area has a plethora of wildflowers including fields of Colorado’s state flower, the columbine.  You can scale 14,000 foot Handies Peak with a long non-technical but demanding day hike.  Stop by alpine Sloan Lake along the way with its turquoise waters and alpine flowers.  Photo tip: I try to photograph wildflowers in the morning before it gets windy.  I also get low; shooting from the same height, or even looking up from below taller flowers as it provides a fresh and interesting perspective.  Use a very small aperture (F-16) to keep both the flowers and distant landscape features in focus.

You’ll need four-wheel drive to reach the higher passes on the Alpine Loop which top-out above treeline at over 12,800 feet on Engineer Pass.  Just to the west of this pass is the ghost town of Animas Forks, at 11,200 feet.  The restored log cabins offer excellent photo subjects.  The surrounding communities of Lake City, Silverton and Ouray offer a variety of services including jeep rentals.  Photo tip: When photographing at high elevations around light colored rock or patches of snow, your camera’s light meter can be tricked into underexposing the image – set your camera to snow/beach mode or overexpose by one or two stops to get the correct exposure.

Check out our @esri Colorado Alpine Loop multimedia storymap-journal for more stunning photos, videos, helpful links and maps of the area: mypubliclands.tumblr.com/traveltuesdaycoloradoalpineloop.

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Vesper, Wolf, and Sperry Peaks | 8/22/2015

1. Stuart on the Vesper approach.
2. Del Campo and Gothic Basin Peaks from Vesper summit. 
3. Wolf Peak, Sperry Peak, Lake Elan.
4. Copper Lake. 
5. Big Four. 
6. Tucker. 
7. Sperry Peak, Class 4 route.
8. Stuart on the Sperry summit approach. 
9. Vesper and Wolf Peaks, from Sperry. 
10. Bath time. 

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Gothic Basin, Del Campo, Gothic Peak | 7/3/2015

1. Ascent to the base of Del Campo.
2. Mitch making his last move to the summit. 
3. Me, ecstatic. 
4. Foggy Lake and the surrounding basin. 
5. Gothic Peak. 
6. Mitch on the descent. 
7. Flower marcro. 
8. Our camp at sunset.