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Saturday, June 3, 2023

New Telephoto Lens

The weather this weekend was rainy. I was hoping for a break from the rain so that we could go hiking, but that's ok since there isn't anything great to hike right now. Up high is muddy and slushy, and down low is too hot. There aren't a lot of middle-altitude hikes that we want to do, so instead I decided to spend some money on more gear. I had $50 in "bonus bucks" from buying my camera a few weeks ago that I needed to spend, so I bought the last lens I needed to in order to have a well-rounded lens portfolio.

I bought the Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 lens, which will be primarily for wildlife, but also the lower-rage of that lens will work well for some landscape photography. I don't do a lot of wildlife photography, but there's always a handful of hikes where we encounter wildlife where I need a telephoto lens. And since this is a new lens, I'm sure I'll be using it in many more applications just so I can familiarize myself with it.

If I had infinite money, I would have bought the 135mm f/2 or 100-500 f/4.5-7.1 lens, but both of those are over $2000. The 100-400mm lens seemed like a reasonable compromise to not break the bank coming in at $650. I now have 3 lenses for this camera that make a great set of lenses for any situation. I have the 16mm ultra-wide, a great middle-of-the-road 50mm prime lens, and now a 100-400mm telephoto lens. Since getting this new camera a few weeks ago and buying the 3 lenses, I've spent a little over $2,500, so needless to say, I think I'm done spending money on any new gear for a while. But that's okay, I think it will be a while before I've used these lenses to their fullest potential (and want something different).

I first took this lens around my neighborhood and into the Pelican Natural Area. Then in the evening Katie and I walked around the Fossil Creek Park Lakes where we found a lot of different types of birds that were great for testing out the new lens.

Red-Winged BlackbirdTelephoto MacroSquallingWith the TurtlesLong NeckVocalFlynnTurtlePelican on the LakeDouble-Crested CormorantBaby GoslingGreat Blue Heron

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Horsetooth Sunset

We rented a Larimer Parks Pass from the library for a week so we could do some rock climbing at Horsetooth. But because of all the rain, we only got to use it once. However, since we had it, we figured we should enjoy the sunset at Horsetooth. We got there a little early and wandered over to all the rocks we wanted to climb to see where they were and what they looked like. There were a lot of dangerously tall boulders that we wanted to climb at some point (but given the height, we might not). It's a good thing we didn't climb this evening because the ground was incredibly muddy (we need dry ground to put our crash pads on). A few days after this sunset evening we got out to climb in this area. I didn't bring my camera while we were climbing because I was spotting Katie.

V-EasyGreenMuddySunset Over HorsetoothOn the EdgeBoating at Sunset

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Foggy Hike

The weather hasn't been cooperative with all the rain, and this weekend was no different. But Sunday morning and early afternoon had a low probability of rain so we decided to take a chance and go hiking. Because of the forecast, we decided to do something lower in elevation in case it rained so that we wouldn't be as exposed. We chose Button Rock Mountain because we both had good memories of hiking it back in 2020 and knew it would give a great panoramic view at the summit.

We did get a panoramic view at the summit, but because of the fog, we couldn't see very much. The whole hike was setting up for a summit disappointment (from a view perspective), because of the thick fog that we were hiking in and out of. By the time we summited, we weren't too surprised that we couldn't see anything. The weather has ruined hikes for us in the past, but this time was different in a positive way. Not only did the fog keep it much cooler than a typical sunny June day, but the fog also added a cool layer of depth to the hike that we're not used to. It might have been different if this was our first time hiking Button Rock Mountain, but we weren't upset with the lack of visibility or sun. The fog ended up adding peacefulness during the hike, especially at the summit. There's something quieting about standing on top of a summit where you should be able to see the tall peaks in the distance but all you see is fog.

Bee in a SkullcapWild IrisBreak in the TreesWestern WallflowerShooting StarFoggyFoggy SummitA View of Longs and MeekerGeologic SurveyKiss In the AbyssLifting FogAspens

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Blizzard Adventure in June

Okay, maybe "blizzard" is an exaggeration, but not by much. It was snowing hard with poor visibility for the majority of the hike. It felt like a mid-winter hike which included busting out gloves and hot hands to try and keep my fingers from freezing - that's not something that should need to happen 4 days from the summer solstice!

Conditions weren't forecasted to be dangerous, just some chance of rain between 10-12, something we could easily prepare for. And good thing we did since that rain ended up being snow at that high elevation. The weather was forecasted to be perfect for hiking the other day of the weekend, but we had other plans. Normally if the weather is bad we would just skip the weekend and go the next, but we had (non-hiking) plans for the next 2 weekends that will make it hard to get outside. All of that combined made us decide to brave the weather and hike up to Chasm Lake. We loaded up the car and got an early start since this hike shares parking with the only 14'er in Northern Colorado, meaning the parking lot would fill up quickly. We got to the trailhead at 8:30 and took a spot from (presumably) someone who had already gone up and come back down. Not questioning our luck in getting a parking spot, we hopped on the trail and started our adventure.

The hike started dry, but it started snowing quickly early on, much sooner than the 10 am forecast. But we were prepared and hiked through the blizzard. Getting that much snow just a few days in the middle of June was strange, but since it is nearly summer it wasn't as cold as some of the other snowy hikes we have done in Rocky Mountain National Park. We were hoping that the weather would clear up by the time we got to Chasm Lake, but we hiked too fast getting there around 11 and it was still snowy with low visibility.

After summiting, we took a few photos at the lake and headed down to find a place that was less exposed for lunch. We quickly ate our lunch and kept descending. About a mile from the lake the snow abruptly stopped and we had partially blue skies in a matter of a few minutes. There was no indication that this sudden change of weather was going to happen when we were at the lake, otherwise, we would have waited. But having already hiked back so far we decided to just keep hiking back to the car. It was a shame, too, since all the beauty in this hike is in the last mile.

Having seen a glimpse of how great the views can be on this hike we've decided to leave it on our hike list to do again hopefully when the weather is better.

Alpine BrookLow VisibilityWetSnowfieldChasm LakeBack at the SnowfieldColumbine FallsBreaking CloudsLongs PeakAlpine Forget-Me-NotFlowingTwin Sisters

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Free Soloing My First Crag

This weekend we picked a hike in Boulder because it was a short drive to our lunch plans in Erie. Having lunch plans meant we couldn't do anything too long, so we picked Royal Arch since that's still a tough hike with over 1,500 feet in elevation gain but it's packed in a short hike that's less than 4 miles long. The hike was something we knew we could do in under 3 hours, so we got to the trailhead 3 hours before we needed to leave for lunch and got hiking.

Like all the other hikes we've done recently, the spring rain has made the area ripe with green grass and lots of wildflowers. Since we were hiking considerably lower in elevation than our previous hikes, most of the wildflowers were wilted and dying, but we managed to find several that were still in peak bloom. We're ready to start getting up higher where it's not as hot now that the wildflowers are blooming up high.

We got to the summit in a little over an hour which gave us about 30 minutes to relax before heading back down. Since it was a nice Sunday morning, the summit was packed with people, but that didn't stop us from getting a good spot to rest. I decided to wander around a little and give Katie some anxiety by climbing up high. I did two sketchy climbs, the first one up to the Westernmost tip in that area behind Royal Arch, and the second climb was up the East face of Royal Arch itself which I summited to the top of the arch. I didn't have any climbing equipment with me and had my camera shoved into my pocket so I could use both hands. While I was climbing, Katie looked it up and found out what I was doing is a class 5 climbing route. It's at the low end of the class 5 scale coming in at a 5.0, but it's still class 5 and is the first outdoor climb that I've done outdoors that's more than just a scramble without any rope protection.

Climbing classes are as follows:
   Class 1: Hiking
   Class 2: Scrambling using hands
   Class 3: Scrambling, fall could result in a broken bone
   Class 4: Simple Climbing, fall could be fatal
   Class 5: Technical climbing

Since this ranked a 5.0 climbing I should have had a rope and protection like a helmet. But it gave Katie (and may other people at the summit) some much-needed anxiety that was only worth it because I didn't die.

The FlatironsMariposa LilyJacobRoyal Arch85 Photo PanoramaOff the EdgeFrom On TopWhat I ClimbedWild FlowersSweet Pea WildflowerBlue Flax

June 2023

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