A Fall Afternoon in the San Juan Mountains - Ridgway, Colorado
October 3, 2016
I had been staying in Breckenridge with a friend and couldn't really decide what I wanted to do. I was planning to head to Minturn to see my two favorite pups, Gus and Blu (find them on Instgram by clicking - @gusandblu), but as I was driving over Cory Marshall (who you may recall from my Iceland adventures) called me and invited me down to Ridgway. He had invited me down a few times, but the previous times I had been busy, but this time I was finally free. I was hesitant because it was already late in the morning and it was well over a 3 hour drive down, but I knew I would regret it if I didn't go...so I set off.
I made my way down and meet up with them off the road that heads for the Blue Lakes Trailhead. Now this road is the only public access in the area - all of the land surrounding it is known as the Double RL ranch, owned by none other than Ralph Lauren. His ranch is massive and consumes a huge portion of the land that lays at the foot of the Dallas Divide. I envy the man, I seriously do - this is some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of Colorado.
I found Cory and a few of his fellow photographer friends he had spent the past week in the San Juans with. There was a fellow from the Netherlands, Guido, and also a long haired man from Denver, Jason. Both were very nice and great to talk to. This was the first time I had been around a group of "serious" photographers - I don't mean serious in the sense they take themselves serious, but in the sense that they really put in the effort to get great photos and they truly know what they are talking about in regards to equipment and techniques. Cory had his film camera with - that thing is amazing! From what I recall it's an older Kodak - I am so used to be surrounding by digital that my mind was blown by the fact that someone was using film. Film is truly impressive because you need everything to be just right - there's no margin for error; the photo is just scrapped if you get it wrong whereas with digital, you can just take multiple of the same and all you lose is a click on your shutter.
I wandered around for a bit trying to find some different vantage points, but given that most of the property is private, I was limited. The four of us waited around for the sunset - it didn't look very promising at first; relatively blue skies with very few clouds over the peaks, but we still had just over an hour until the sun went down. While we were waiting, a few other photographers arrived and setup in the same vicinity. Everyone made small talk, mostly about how incredible Iceland is seeing as how Cory, Guido and I had all recently returned from being there. I also professed my love for the Alps, since I was with a group of people who had been there. It's a bit ironic seeing as how just down the road from where we were is a town called Ouray and Ouray is known as "the Switzerland of America" - from now having been to Switzerland a few times, I can understand why...Ouray has steep and dramatic cliff walls that rise out of the valley, topped with beautiful mountain peaks - that's very much how Switzerland looks.
Just before sunset, some beautiful clouds formed over the peaks of the Dallas Divide. It was beautiful and the first time I was able to get a picturesque sunset of one of Colorado's most beautiful mountain ranges.
Anyhow, the San Juans are stunning, easily the most beautiful mountains in Colorado. It's funny to think that I lived in Colorado for nearly 7 years before my first trip down that way, but after my first taste I couldn't get enough. The Dallas Divide is typically your first glance of the San Juans - you can see them as you head south out of Grand Junction - they rise out of basically nothing as the landscape around you is mostly high desert. Once you arrive in Ridgway, you are greeted with spectacular views and Mt Sneffels as the center piece to this symphony of beautiful peaks - a truly jaw dropping sight!
If you find yourself in Colorado and have the time, you really should visit the San Juan mountains. Everything about them is mesmerizing.
(click to enlarge)