Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Schedule for week 2 of the Colorado Fall photo meetup!

Friday 9/30/2011 ----Meet at Moraine Valley Visitors Center in RMNP at 6:30am

This is located along Bear Lake Road. When entering from the west side Estes Park entrance, after you come through the ranger station, you will go left on Bear Lake Road. It is approximately 250 feet after the ranger station entrance, so it comes up very quick. Follow this all the way down in to the valley and the very first left you can make will lead you up in to the parking lot of the Moraine Valley visitors center. I have gone ahead and screen capped a google earth map of it and posted it here http://postimage.org/image/30l8v9o4k/full/
From here we will decide which direction to go. The lower valley that will below us and is viewable from our position is usually home to some of the best Elk rut action of Fall. I highly advise arriving before scheduled time of 630 especially for those who have never experienced the rut before. There is just something totally magical about hearing Elk bugle before sunrise that will send chills up your spine. As it stands now, some of us I am sure will shoot the rut while others may go hiking, it is all up to you.
We will try to rendezvous back up at around 5pm at an area I have to decide yet. I won’t know this until this weekend when I can see what is a good spot that isn’t packed with people. From here, depending on how everything is going with the rut, we may decide to head to Brainard Lake to try and photograph Moose in the evening hours and stay to photograph the sunset. It is very dark at this area as well and provides excellent star trail photography as well.

Saturday 10/1/2011---Meet at Copeland Lake at Wild Basin area of RMNP at 6:30am

This area is totally separated from the main part of RMNP and is absolutely stunning for nature photography. See screen cap of map. This is kind of a ways outside of Estes Park along Hwy 7. It is shortly after you pass St Malo cathedral (the epic church which looks like this http://jdebordphoto.zenfolio.com/img/v19/p1001566707.jpg and will be on your right side) It is approximately 10-15 miles outside of Estes so you all know. When approaching from Estes watch close for signs, it comes up fast, and you will turn right. Keep following it back as the entrance is set back a bit. Upon entering follow the road to the first lake you come upon and that is Copeland Lake. Getting here early is a good thing as it can get busy with the locals (this is a spot that not many tourists know of) It offers excellent hiking for those of you who wish to and great Aspen stands.
From here after shooting, we will head back over to the main part of RMNP. We will decide before hand where to meet but it is looking like the Fall River Visitors Center right now. For those of you who wish to shoot the rut, I suggest leaving no later than 8-830am from Wild Basin.
A side note—PLEASE be aware of Bears in your surroundings here!
Afternoon evenings we will try to get down to Fern Valley and Old Fall River Road if it is open depending on construction to shoot the Aspen ...afterwards possibly Horseshoe Park for the Elk rut if it is happening there in that area of RMNP.

Sunday 10/2/2011 --- Meet at Lake Estes for sunrise at 630am

Please see attached map here http://postimage.org/image/2vemz8n0k/ The lake right now is very full and provides some excellent shots at sunrise. Shortly after sunrise, we will meet back up at Moraine Valley Visitors Center. (again link posted above with map) From here we will shoot the Elk rut in good light and after, providing it is indeed open, will head to Trail Ridge Road to photograph Pika and Marmots. PLEASE dress VERY warm for Trail ridge and bring a LOT of fluids. This is 12,000 feet high and o2 is minimal, however the elements are certainly anything but! It will be downright freezing cold and the wind will be very strong. If Trail Ridge is indeed open, we can venture over to the west side of the park right after to see if we can photograph Moose. For those of you driving on this day, make 100% sure your gas tank is filled.
Evening is still up in the air right now at this point but I am thinking more than likely it will be spent in the Horseshoe Park area of RMNP. Not 100% sure yet though. We will probably have to wait and see how the day plays out before making a final decision on it. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The schedule for week 1 of the annual Colorado Fall photo meetup & workshop!

Ok folks, here it be in all it’s glory. The schedule for week 1. Please see attached images for maps and directions and times.
Soooo away we go! Make sure you read it ALL please!

First week schedule:

Friday 9/23/2011---- Meet at 6:30am on shores of Lake Estes
(see attached map for exact meeting point as illustrated and also the map on Google to get directions http://g.co/maps/sq46h ) ....sunrise is at 6:48am so I wouldn't be any later than 6:30 at all. In fact, I would highly suggest arrving before that in order to get set up. Please be advised that the turn off to the right in to the Lake area comes up quite fast and quick after crossing the bridge heading west on 36/66.

Depart Lake Estes no later than 730am head for Moraine Valley in RMNP---- This is the prime area for the Elk rut (along with Horseshoe) We will scope out the artists in residence cabins area first as that is usually one of the best places to see action going on. See attached map with route outlined. This is entering from the west entrance in Estes Park. (FYI possible fast stop at Donut Haus on the way....because they have the best donuts you have ever had in your life I kid not! Real German deal..and refills on coffee) Please be rather quiet when down around the cabins as people will be asleep. From here on out we will adjust plans as needed on the fly.

The rest of the day is up to you. From 11ish to about 3pm tourist traffic picks up and then dies off. I would pay very close attention to the area around Horseshoe Park and Sheep Lakes for Elk rut action in the evening. It gets very packed with many photographers so it may be wise to park your car there and hitch a ride for the day with someone else. This assures a spot for you in the evening. We can decide on the fly where to meet as it is dependent upon where the rutting action is taking place and we won't know until the day we are there.

Also during tourist times is usually a good time to shoot the changing Aspen trees or go up on Trail Ridge Road as most are there to see the Elk battle it out. Areas such as Bear lake Road and Old Fall River Road are incredible with their Aspen stands.

Saturday 9/24/2011--- Meet at 630am at Lily Lake

(see attached map and also link on Google maps here http://g.co/maps/c6r5w ) This is along HWY 7 heading out of Estes Park on the west side of the highway. It comes up rather fast on the right (when heading from Estes) once you get to the top of the ridge so be aware. The parking lot here is very small also. So again i suggest arriving early. The views of the continental divide here are stunning and you can walk entirely around the lake...alpenglow is always a real treat here at daybreak. Across the other side of HWY7 are incredible Aspen stands....these trees always grab my attention and are something else to shoot.

Depart 730am head for RMNP---meet at Moraine Valley Visitor Center--- (see attached map "Moraine" ) From here we will decide on the fly where to shoot as far as Elk go. Also, this is a free day in RMNP so it will be VERY packed. I am deciding now what to do and need to talk with a few other people but we may head out in the afternoon and hit Lake Brainard for evening for Moose and sunset which I already have planned for Sunday AM anyhow.

SUNDAY 9/25/2011
Sunday 9/25/2011 ---Meet at 630am at Brainard Lake State Recreation Area (or where Bunnies go to die! lol don't ask)

Please note that Brainard requires a separate fee of $9 to get in. It is $9 well spent. We will shoot the sunrise along the shores of Brainard facing the Indian Peaks and hopefully photograph Moose as well. Please see directions I have outlined in Google maps from Estes Park to Brainard Lake http://g.co/maps/ddr9n it is a tad tricky. Allow yourself ample time. We will meet along the shores of Brainard so you know at the pulloff just before the bridge on the left side. It is easy to find.

Depart Brainard for RMNP 8ish depending upon Moose--- Moose dependent we will depart Brainard for RMNP 8ish, naturally if we see Moose that goes out the window. We will meet back at RMNP at Moraine Visitor center 9ish where we will go and photograph the Elk rut.

Possibly meet back up at 230 after lunch where I would like to hold an Aspen workshop with photographing the stands in a more intimate environment in Endo Valley. I am awaiting to hear from RMNP rangers right now if Old Fall River River Road will be opened or closed before deciding where and what times first.

*Details.---PLEASE READ!

*Maps of RMNP---- These can be downloaded in full PDF format from the RMNP website at http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/maps.htm

*Keeping up to date on conditions--- Please note that the Rangers in RMNP can be found by keeping an update on their twitter and facebook feeds . These include http://twitter.com/#!/rmnpofficial and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rocky-Mountain-National-Park/191384267547522

* Carpooling before RMNP enterance---It may be wise to carpool with someone before we enter RMNP, this saves on entry cost not to mention gasoline. If this is inded the case that you wish to do this, please let people on the email list know asap. There is a Safeway where your car will be more than safe just outside the park.

*Dress warm but also dress for summer. --- Temps vary and swing wildly in fall just as the weather can and often does in the mountains. Bring a change of clothes with you. Mornings will be bitterly cold so things like a warm coat and gloves aren't just recommended, they are essential. Pack plenty of bottled water and packing a lunch is a good idea as lines to get back in to the park can be very long. Bring clothes to change in to late morning that are cooler...it can get to the middle 20s in the AM while in teh late morning it can get to the 70s which may not sound warm but when you are at 10,000 feet, it is cooking hot with the sun. Sunscreen is mandatory.

*Be aware. Be safe.--- Keep a safe distance away from the Elk. Don't be a tourist and don't be a victim. Elk this time of the year are absolutely insane animals and they WILL attack you without provocation and charge. Know your surroundings at all times. Please do not go walking out in the meadows at any time, you will see tourists do this and know that they are risking their lives in doing so. Also, if we see Moose at Brainard, do NOT under any circumstance even consider approaching them. They are not nice animals at all. The same can be said if you decide to go over Trail Ridge on to the west side of RMNP and see Moose, never approach them, keep a safe distance.

*A word of caution about lightning--- If you are in the alpine tundra areas of RMNP and a storm comes up, you NEED to get to lower ground as fast as you can if you are walking around (please stay on the trails, don't trapse on the Alpine, it is very fragile and each footstep takes 10,000 years to regenerate) or at least back in your car. Lightning is a killer and often you ARE the tallest object. If you decide to hike, please familiarize yourself with lightning shelter locations.

*If you see a problem, report it asap to a Ranger--- Last year we reported a mother who was risking the life of not only herself but her baby by walking out to the Elk in a meadow. the same bull who charged Leasha and I earlier that morning. If you see something like this, please report it asap, you may wind up saving someone’s life.

Now, let the party begin!!!!