Ever since I’ve gotten more comfortable with my photography and visualizing photos that I would like to take, one idea has kept coming back to me; Great Sand Dunes National Park. It’s nearby where I grew up, it’s one of my favorite parks, it’s a dynamic landscape, and I haven’t visited for almost 6 years. I called up my friend Chase Shipley and rallied him toward the possibility of spending 10 hours in a car to take some photos, but to my surprise he was more than willing to do that. We then recruited Rick Louie and he said he was interested too, so we finalized plans for the first Saturday in March and the stoke level was high.
“Ryan, I really wish you wouldn’t go.”
That was talking to my Mom on Friday morning as we talked about some somber news she had given me. Informed of our trip and knowing the weather forecast, she urged me not to go to the Sand Dunes. I assured her that we would be fine and that she was worrying too much. But the thought of a winter storm did damper my mood for the Sand Dunes, it is a lot of miles down there and driving on bad roads was a near certainty so I checked with Chase and Rick. They both didn’t want to go to the Sand Dunes, so we aborted those plans and made plans to go to Rocky Mountain National Park instead.
The weather forecast held true and there was a fresh 15” of snow in mountains above Estes Park, breaking trail was a little tiring for us out-of-shape flatlanders but the snow created some remarkably beautiful scenery even if the visibility was practically zero. We hiked in the snow for a little over a mile and made our way up the road only to find lots of deer and elk that were practically posing for the camera. With an SUV full of photographers, many many pictures were taken.
Overall, a change in plans wasn’t a bad thing and the drive back to Broomfield in the evening wasn’t particularly enjoyable so I’m grateful that we weren’t driving on I-25 coming back from the dunes. This trip was a great time out in the snow with friends even if I wasn’t able to harness that creativity to make the most of a scene (it was almost too much snow) but it was good for the heart, and good for the soul.