Into The Blue - Part I

May 30, 2008

It just had to happen I suppose. After my hike on the top of the mountain followed by a dip in the pool, I went online later in the day to check out the weather in places just a bit north. Friday was the snow day, Saturday I was on the top of the mountain and by Saturday evening I was quickly packing the car.

You see I decided to make a quick check on the weather in Colorado, pulling up one of the web cams at the Ski resort, A Basin.

People were skiing and they had reported a foot of fresh snow.

So here was the quick math that I did. Tuesday morning at 11:00am (the day after Memorial Day) I had to be in court in Alamosa county some 200 miles north of Albuquerque. I decided that if I had to drive that far, I might as well head on north to Summit County, ski on Memorial day and at the end of the day, start the drive back south again so that I would not be far from Alamosa on Tuesday morning.

I also decided that I'd make this a combination spa/ski weekend, checking out as many hot springs as I could between here and A Basin, some 385 miles north.

I guess I figured if you are going to drive 400 miles round trip just to show up in court, you might as well drive 800 miles round trip and have a nice time. Since Mrs was off in Florida at a convention I decided that I might as well hit the road, camera in hand.Mt. Blanca, Colorado

Just outside of Alamosa I pulled over for my first photo-shoot, taking a shot of one of my favorite venues in the Rockies, the cluster of four fourteeners in the southern Sangre de Criste range. I've climbed three of those peaks, Blanca, Little Bear and Ellingwood Point.

I put together a panorama of the range and shortly after I returned, I discovered that you can upload images to Google Earth. If they select your images, then you are forever "placemarked" on the globe. When I think back to how some of the summer of "08" was spent, all I have to remember is some of the comments I get from time to time from people who check out my images that are scattered from Alamosa to Italy to the Saini Desert.

Panorama of the Sangre De Criste range taken from Alamosa, Colorado

You can see a larger image here. (click on the image after it loads in the browser for full size)

There are 3 hot springs in the neighborhood of Alamosa and I picked the one that is on the main road about 45 miles north of Alamosa. Joyful Journey hot springs and spa is an ok site - you walk across boardwalks to get to pools that are semi-enclosed and have a panoramic view of the range, although you do have to view through plexiglass. The day I was there I understood why the need for enclosures because the wind was blowing at a good 20 miles per hour plus and it tended to cool you off rather rapidly. One thing that I can say is that the water was hot enough for me, something that tends to be variable in the winter. Cold ground water can seep into the springs dropping their winter temperatures.

After soaking for an hour or a half, I continued north through Leadville just as the sun was about to set. As I drove out of town I was hoping that I could get to some high ground and hopefully get a great view when I came around a curve to this.

Those of you know me also know that I love to try and get a much into an image as possible, since the camera generally captures such a small part of the "big sky" that we have in the west. So of course, I put together the composition that I could turn into a panorama.

panorama of the Climax Molybdenum mine near Leadville, CO

The golden hour of light was fading quickly into my valley and I could only hope that I could get near the top of the pass before the light ran out. Larger image here.

I reached the top of the pass, turned to the left and was stunned by the vista.

Not having a tripod, the image is not the sharpest, but even with a bit of blur, it works for me.

The panorama, even as dynamic as it is, is a weak sister to the experience of being there on the top of the Rockies watching the clouds reflecting the last light of the "golden hour." Larger image here.