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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Fall Colors in Colorado

We don't have a lot of time this year to see the fall colors in Colorado. Next weekend will be good for Colorado fall colors, but we'll be out of town, so we knew we needed to get out today to try and see the colors before they're gone. The best area to go would have been up the I-70 corridor, but that's where all the other leaf peepers are and the popular areas are always so crowded to the point where it's not as fun. Instead, we went to Red Feather where we ended up being just a little late for fall colors. It's hard to get accurate reports of colors in Colorado in the more remote areas, but even though we missed peak colors in this area we still managed to find a few great spots.

We picked an easy hike this week and one that we've done before. We hiked on Molly Moon and Granite Ridge trails to make the same loop that we made in 2021. We knew the hike wasn't anything spectacular from a hiking adventure standpoint, but we knew there were aspens in the area which is the main tree we were hunting for in order to see the fall colors.

Sunny HikeGolden LeavesAspens Along the PathSnake on the TrailTall AspensGraniteRed Leaf

Friday, October 6, 2023

Cobble Mountain

Katie and I had a wedding to go to in Connecticut to go to. It is one of Katie's friends that she is decently close to, and as such, she was part of the bridal party. When we booked the trip, we thought she would only have 1 day of bridesmaid duties plus the rehearsal dinner that we would both attend on top of the wedding itself. We planned a 4-day trip thinking we would get to hike together at least 2 of those days, but as the time grew closer and her bridesmaid duties grew, I was left on my own on the first day to hike by myself.

I decided to drive as far North as I was willing to in order to have the best chance of seeing some fall colors. I knew that all of Connecticut would be a little early for fall colors this time of year, but we didn't set the date of the trip, the people getting married did. I chose a hike in Macedonia State Park somewhat arbitrarily. The two north corners of the state tend to change colors first, so I chose to go on the northwest side of the state since I was already on the West-half of the state where our hotel was. With Macedonia State Park only an hour and a half away, that's where I went. On the way there, I stopped at a deli to get a sandwich for lunch and made it to the park right around noon. The hike I chose was based on getting to the top of something so that I could see rolling hills of colorful trees. Cobble Mountain fit all my criteria including not being a very long or challenging hike. The hike was super foggy and the colors were just starting to change, so the summit wasn't that great.

I haven't hiked on the East Coast since our 2021 fall colors trip and have forgotten how it is hiking around here. It was very humid here. Because of the moisture, there were lots of mushrooms which was a cool sighting for me since I don't see many in Colorado. I also saw a salamander right at the start of the hike which was super cute and cool. The hiking experience was great since I don't hike in this type of forest very often. Everything was so uniquely different, yet familiar at the same time.

Waiting for GPSShowing itTiny SalamanderMore MushroomsFoggy SummitMostly GreenGlowing RimMoss and LeavesOld Forest RoadBoulder Off the PathStone WallRed in the Trees

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Peoples State Forest

Today was the day of the wedding that we came out to Connecticut for. Since Katie was one of the bridesmaids, she was busy all morning and I was only expected to show up for the ceremony starting at 5. So in the morning, Katie and I went and had breakfast and then I dropped her off at the hotel to get ready with all the other ladies for the wedding while I adventured off to go hike.

I chose Peoples State Forest because it was about the same drive time as the hike yesterday, but it was a little further North. My thought process was that the further North I go the better chance there would be of fall colors, but this whole area is way too early for fall colors. We would need to go a few states North to see anything good right now, but I had low expectations for colors anyway after yesterday's hike.

There was a high probability of rain during this hike. Despite this, I decided to continue going on the hike because I had nothing else to do. I came prepared with my rain jacket, but I wasn't prepared for the amount of rain that came during the hike. The rain was peaceful listening to it hit all of the leaves as it fell and splashed in newly forming puddles. With the amount of rain I got on my hike, I ended up getting soaked completely through my jacket, shorts, pants, and boots. But it wasn't too cold, so other than the uncomfortableness of being wet, the rain wasn't a problem.

When it rains while I'm doing photography I expect to get some water on my lens, which isn't an issue because I can usually find something dry to wipe it off with. But since everything was soaked, I ran into a new issue of how to get the water off my lens. I eventually found a napkin in my bag that was only half-soaked that worked for a little while, but I had to embrace the fact that there was no way to clean my lens.

The wedding was wonderful at the zoo in Stratford. The ceremony was inside the greenhouse which had a hawk as the ring bearer was a uniquely different wedding experience. The reception was in the carousel room afterwards which was a nice place for a venue. I haven't ridden on a carousel since I was quite a bit younger, so it was fun to get to be on one again as an adult.

On the BoardwalkMarsh AreaMany BridgesFlowing WaterFoggyLifting FogWaterfall and StepsSoaking WetOn the CarouselSelfie on the Carousel

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Lions Head and Bear Mountain

With the wedding over, Katie was now free to go hiking with me in Connecticut. We only had one full day left after the wedding before flying back, so this was our last chance. The hike chosen was Lions Head and Bear Mountain. We had this hike planned out before we left for the trip, as opposed to the last two hikes where I figured out where I was going the night before. Since we knew we would have this day to ourselves it was much easier to plan it out in advance.

In the morning we packed up our things and left for the very top corner of Connecticut where New York and Massachusetts border it. This hike has the highest point in all of Connecticut, with an altitude of 2354 Feet high. It's silly to think that our house is at double that elevation, but it was cool to get to the high point in the area to be able to have a great panoramic view. However, since we were bordering two other states, it wasn't the high point in the area. Looking over towards Massachusetts had a mountain that looked just slightly taller than the one we were on. Oh well...

The views were great but not really that impressive since none of the foliage has begun to change here. Although the lighting was better in some ways than the past two days since there was actually sunshine, there were lots of clouds which made for patchy lighting that wasn't ideal. I think I prefer the sun with patchy skies over hiking in the rain, but it made it difficult to capture what we were seeing with our eyes.

It was a good hike with more distance than I did on my other hikes. However, having been up until 1 am from the wedding the night before and having danced a lot, both of us were very exhausted on this hike. I might have liked this hike more if we were both a little less tired, but this was Katie's only day and our only day completely together to go do something fun. So even if the hike wasn't that great and even if we were both completely dead, we still had a good time out exploring a new state with each other.

Lions Head PanoramaFall in the RiverAppalachian TrailHigh Point PlaqueMassachusetts Leaves on the TrailSummit Selfie

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Solar Eclipse

Today there was a partial solar eclipse in my area. Having shot the last solar eclipse that went through my town back in 2017 and it being a lot of fun, I decided to try and step up my photography for this one. This solar eclipse was only 76% coverage for where I was which is a lot less than the previous one (96%), but it was still enough of an eclipse to want to go shoot it. The weather was in the mid-30s the entire time that I was out shooting, which ended up being almost 2 hours. That was a little chilly, but it didn't bother me until about an hour in when a slight breeze developed.

My plan was to use 2 of my cameras (my newer R8 and my older T6s). I would use the older T6s to take a wider-angle shot with something in the foreground (part of Bobcat Ridge) and show the path with eh progress of the eclipse. That would require leaving a camera untouched on a tripod for the entire shoot. With my newer R8 camera, I would take close-up shots. Unfortunately, I left my telephoto lens for my R8 camera at home which essentially left me with just my older T6s camera to take photos with. Because of this, I was carefully taking my camera on and off the tripod to take both up close photos by hand but then put it back on the tripod where hopefully everything nothing would get accidently moved. Using one camera for a two camera job didn't go so well.

The eclipse started at 9:15am, peaking at 10:36am, and ending at 12:05pm. The area I chose was Bobcat Ridge. I picked that location because I wanted somewhere that I could have a ridge or mountain in the photo while being able to stay close to my car. I had a lot of gear with me, including two cameras, two tripods, and a camping chair, so not having to haul that around was the primary concern for wanting to stay close to the car. Additionally, I wanted to be close in case I needed to hop in the car to warm up for a few minutes. In hindsight, I do think this was a good choice of location.

Here are a few key takeaways for the next time I'm shooting a solar eclipse:

  • For the timelapse photo, the field of view needs to be large enough to capture the whole event. I miscalculated how high the sun would be at the peak of the eclipse, which made stitching the photo together quite difficult. I thought 50mm (on my crop sensor lens) would be great, but it needed to be a little wider than that. a 50mm focal distance would have been perfect on my full-frame camera.
  • Bring tape to lock the focal distance if using a non-prime lens.
  • Be time-sensitive to taking photos in set intervals. I wasn't great with this which left the spacing between all of the suns very uneven.
  • Double-check that you have all the gear you need.
  • Don't mess around taking tons of photos with different settings. If it's a clear day, stick with these settings or within one stop of them: f/40, 1/4000, ISO 100 for shade 8 weld glass, f/20, 1/4000, ISO 100 for shade 11

Timelapse of the EclipseBright SunSetup for the Morning

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Mirror Lake

Our hike this weekend was to Mirror Lake. The trailhead was accessible via Long Draw Road near Cameron's Pass. Long Draw Road will likely close in the next month due to snow, so since it was still open we wanted to get this one checked off our list before it was too late.

This was a tough hike. It's the most distance than we've ever done before, and we chose it (maybe stupidly) based on the distance. The reason distance was important to us is because we are running out of time to complete our New Year's Resolution. There might be plenty of time left in the year, but it won't be long before the trails are covered in snow and ice making a hike with this much distance even harder.

This hike started off by skirting the 2020 Cameron's Peak burn area. After about a mile, we were completely surrounded by the bur area and continued to hike in the burn area for 4 more miles until we were in an unburned forest for the last mile up to the lake. Hiking in a burn area isn't that great and doesn't really give either of us a positive hiking experience. The views at the lake were terrific, and Mirror Lake truly did live up to its name of being a mirror. But with how far we hiked, the view wasn't worth that much distance. There are shorter hikes with nicer lake views than Mirror Lake. But at least it wasn't a disappointment like some other lakes that we've hiked to.

One really nice thing about this hike was that we were alone for almost all of the hike. We were hoping that this would be a people-less hike, but we saw one other couple also hiking to the lake right before we got to the lake, which meant that we were sharing the lake with them. I don't mind sharing the lake with other people, but we were really hoping for solitude based on how remote of an area this was.

This hike to Mirror Lake beat our previous record for distance by 19%. And as such, we can now say that our 2023 New Year's Resolution is complete! Our New Year's Resolution was to beat our all-time records for mileage, elevation gain, and time hiking by 15%. Prior to this hike, we had already broken our all-time-record for elevation gain and time hiking on our hike to Spectacle Lakes just a month prior. With all 3 of our records broken by 15% or more, our New Year's Resolution is complete.

Previous Record 2023 Goal New Record
Mileage 11.18 Miles 12.86 Miles 13.28 miles
Elevation Gain 2,589 ft 2,977 ft 3,458 ft
Time Hiking 5hr, 47min, 42sec 6hr, 39min, 51sec 7hr, 37min, 9sec

Mount RichthofenAlmost UnobstructedA Hike Through the BurnMareVery Rocky MountainMirror LakeDifferent AngleCache La Poudre

October 2023

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