Stormy Summer Days

I recently spent a few days shooting wildflowers and mountains in the San Juan Range of Colorado. My original plan was to spend a few nights camped out at Ice Lakes Basin but due to the intense lightning storms that have been plaguing the area (and me being a bit intimidated by them) I decided instead to head up to American Basin and see how the wildflowers were faring. My choice seemed good since although I weathered a few storms the flowers were in full bloom and overall I had a some great weather for photography; the overcast skies gave me the chance to shoot wildflowers under some soft light conditions which is something I’ve been looking forward to.

The trip started out with a boom, literally, as I was fueling up in Bayfield I saw a flash of purple light above the gas station and simultaneously an impressively loud and deafening clap of thunder exploded all around me. That was probably the closest I’ve ever personally been to being hit by lightning. So with that eye-opening experience behind me I headed toward American Basin, taking the long way around from Durango and driving through a massive rainstorm that seemed to be leaving about an inch of standing rain on the roadway.

After all of that I ended up driving up toward American Basin with the rain still falling down, making the road up rather wet and muddy, but totally passable. By the time I arrived at American Basin that evening the rain was just starting to slow down and I was able to get out and walk around a bit, noticing that the wildflowers were definitely in full bloom. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before another storm came over the ridge and drove me back to the protection of my truck to wait out the violent lightning. Luckily this year I didn’t have any run-ins with crazy marmots. Last year while waiting out a storm in my truck parked at the American Basin Trailhead I had a marmot crawl up into my engine, but that’s a different story.

The night proved to be stormy and filled with lightning and I feared that the morning was going to be rainy, fortunately for me I was wrong. It was a little bit too gray for good sunrise colors but the overcast stormy skies made for a great opportunity to shoot some close-ups of the beautiful wildflowers filling the lower basin.

Golden Summer

Drooping Yellow

There were great colors to be found in the Mule’s Ears and even a few Columbine scattered around here and there.

Columbines

The morning was cloudy but the storm clouds also made a nice backdrop when contrasted with the beautiful colors of American Basin in full bloom.

American Morning

I ended up staying at American Basin and shooting images for about two days before I decided it was time to head back toward home. My plan was to head up toward Silverton and see what the weather was doing before deciding whether or not to do a quick overnight backpacking trip into Ice Lakes Basin or not.

So off I went headed down and out from American Basin back and back toward Creede. Outside of Creede there is a a waterfall called North Clear Creek Falls that I’ve always wanted to check out so I decided to make a pit stop and shoot a few images. The one-hundred foot North Clear Creek Falls really is a magnificent waterfall. It dramatically drops one hundred feet  from the rolling grasslands into a rocky gorge far below.

Clear Creek

After my pit stop it was pretty much smooth sailing to Silverton, interrupted of course by the occasional torrential downpour. None the less, I arrived in the Silverton area by late afternoon and decided to make some dinner while pondering what to do and evaluating the weather. Should I head home or backpack into Ice Lakes Basin? That is the question…

To be continued in Part II…

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