May 21, 2009 – Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake

Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake at dawn Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake at dawn

May 21, 2009.

So far, I’ve been trying to only post pictures that I haven’t already posted somewhere else on my profile. But.. whatever.

You’ve probably seen a picture from this viewpoint before, ESPECIALLY if you’ve ever looked at a Colorado calendar, or anything like that. In some ways, this is *the* representative Colorado view. I’ve seen it everywhere from postcards to grocery store discount cards. It’s f’ing everywhere.

This is a view of the Maroon Bells, looking over Maroon Lake. The viewpoint is near Aspen, about 20 minutes outside of town. In summer months, it’s pretty popular, to the point that after a certain time, they won’t even allow you to drive in anymore, instead they run busses from about 10 minutes down the road. Pretty wild.

I’ve actually visited this spot twoce, once was quite awhile ago when I was on a 3 week roadtrip through Montana, Colorado, and points in between. On that trip, I didn’t have a set itinerary, and ended up in Aspen for a night totally on a whim. I didn’t have a hotel lined up, so instead I just parked at the viewpoint and slept in my car. I woke up at sunrise, and shortly after, the sun was shining right up the valley, which let me get some nice pics of the reflection in the lake and such.

This time (2006), Julie and I had flown down to Colorado just for a long weekend, to drive around in the hills a bit to see the aspens. Since we had pretty limited time, we actually did plan out our route, which included a night in Aspen, this time staying in an honest-to-god hotel, with walls and a toilet and everything. Remembering my luck last time with the sunrise pics, I decided to do that again. So I woke up at around 5am, and headed over. Julie of course gave the response you’d expect from a wife who has been asked if she wants to wake up before dawn and sit there for a couple hours while you take pictures, so she stayed in the hotel and slept in.

Unfortunately, this was a very different time of year (last time was at the beginning of summer, this one was solidly into the fall), and therefore, the sun followed a much different path across the sky. So, instead of shining straight up the valley, illuminating the scene within an hour or two of coming over the horizon, it was rising behind one of the high ridges, which meant that Maroon Lake was in the shade until about 4 hours after sunrise. So, I got a few pictures like this one soon after the sun started rising, then I sat there and waited.. And waited… And waited… Eventually, I was able to get the pictures I wanted though, perhaps I’ll include one from later that morning in the picture of the day sometime next week. I ended up rolling back into the hotel at around 11:30 am, about 5 hours after I’d left, and about 3 hours later than I told Julie I’d be back.

Of course, there was no cell phone coverage in the valley, and besides that fact, Julie’s phone was dead and I didn’t know the number to the hotel, so when I came back several hours later than I said I would, Julie was understandably concerned. But, as it turns out, all is fair in love, war, and photography. To make it up to her, I actually came back to this spot later that afternoon, and brought her with me. By then they had closed the road, so the only way in was to ride the shuttle, but that’s fine. It’s really interesting to see though how the quality of the light and the general feeling of the scene changed throughout the day. I’ll show you some of the other pics if you’d like. One interesting difference: The air tends to be perfectly still in the early morning and late afternoon, which allows you to get these perfect reflections. During most of the day, there are almost always little breezes that keep the surface unsettled. And that held true today as well, right as I was leaving in the morning, the wind was starting to pick up a bit, so the reflections disappeared.

Okay, that’s enough text for today.

Map for this one:

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, 18-55 mm kit lens. 1/500s, f/4.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 28mm.

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  1. Reply

    […] after another. And that would be… only a little bit different from now, where all I post are pictures of the Maroon Bells ( and Mt. Shuksan […]

  2. avatar
    Marie June 3, 2010

    Great shot, loves the reflection

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