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Old May 30, 2012, 10:46 PM   #1
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Default Rocky Mountain High (#1) Trail Ridge Road

I'll break up what I want to post into a couple of threads, as I get them done and when I get a chance. I won't repost the pictures I've already posted here in the thread about the birds ( What birds are these? ) and the thread about week 12 ( Week 12 of 52 ) which has some of my favorite pictures from this trip.

Estes Park is where we stayed. It's a small town that's basically the gateway city for the east side of the park. It's at a fairly high elevation - over 7,500 feet (2288 meters). The Trail Ridge Road keeps going up from there. There are several curves that have pull-outs and parking areas along the way. This was taken at one of them, looking down on Estes Park in the distance. And this is one of the lower pull-outs! (K5, FA 31)

To give you an idea of scale: (K5, FA 31)

One of the panoramas I took from another spot we stopped at. There were a couple of other pictures I took but Photoshop struggled to line it all up, so I didn't include them here. The other thing that this panorama shows is the difficulty with using a circular polarizer on a really wide angle lens - the polarizer reacts differently when the angle to the sun changes. But I liked it anyway. (K5, FA31)

We were way too early for most wildflowers, but there were some that provided nice color. (K5, DA300)

They were actually very small, and there weren't very many of them. (K5, FA 31)

Toward the top there's a nature walk that talks about the tundra environment. I think this was at something like 11,000 + feet (3352 meters). There was still a fair amount of snow, though the winds often keep part of this land almost bare, while other parts get huge snow drifts. (K5, FA31)

The trail doesn't look like spring at all. (K5, FA31)

I didn't walk as far as the person perched on the tall rock. Dan had more problems with the elevation than I did, so he stayed in the car for this one.

I just like this picture - it was taken at the Alpine Visitor Center, which is just past the highest point of the drive and well above 11,000 feet. The visitor center wasn't open yet, but I could stand on the deck behind it. I liked how this shows the classic semi-circular formation where a glacier once started. (K5, FA31)

The Continental Divide is below the top of the past, which surprised me somewhat. And here is my obligatory photograph of the sign marking the spot. Note that the elevation is rather significantly lower than the 12,183 feet, the highest point on the Trail Ridge Road. (K5, FA77)

We had a nice lunch at Grand Lake, the small community on the west side of the national park. I took a couple of pictures there but haven't processed them yet (wasn't all that crazy about them).

On the way back to Estes Park, in a meadow not far from the park's western entrance, we spotted this herd of elk (the first we had seen on the trip). This is another stitched panorama. The elk were at a big distance - these frames were taken with the DA*300. I sure would like a longer lens.

The mountains in the background might not be in Rocky Mountain National Park - not quite sure where the park's boundary is. These could easily be national forest land, I really don't know.
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Old May 30, 2012, 11:21 PM   #2
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Hi Harriet, the close up of the yellow flowers is my favorite!

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Old May 31, 2012, 6:19 AM   #3
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Beautiful scapes...definitely whetts my appetite for my visit at the end of July!
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Old May 31, 2012, 11:54 AM   #4
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Just beautiful Harriet


...It is better to burn a roll of film than curse the darkness. Equip. K30, Q7, DAL 55-300, DA 35 f2.4, DA 50 f1.8 DA 18-135, SMC-M 28 f3.5, SMC M 50 f1.4, Canon P&S S100 w/CHDK Beta, Panasonic DMC-GM5, Flickr:
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Old May 31, 2012, 1:35 PM   #5
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Wonderful scenery and amazing to see all that snow when we're already into the low 30s C here most days !
Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

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Old May 31, 2012, 2:35 PM   #6
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Tom - its funny you mentioned that - when I got back that evening and reviewed my pictures on the laptop, I thought they left me wanting something more. I had gotten so wrapped up with the huge vistas that I really hadn't really captured the whole essence of the experience of being there. There is more to this majestic place than wide mountain views that go on forever. I did a little better the following couple of days, as I tried to not get so distracted by one facet. They have the saying "can't see the forest for the trees" - well in my case it was I couldn't see the trees for the forest. I thought I did better over the next couple of days, especially when I had to leave the DA300 on the camera on one hike because it was the only weather sealed lens I had with me when it started snowing, so I went looking for subjects that it would compliment.

Jehan - I hope you have a great time. Take a wide angle and something to use for close-ups. While I hardly ever shoot true macro when I'm on vacation, I took a lot of close-ups this time. Of course, you'll also need something really long for wildlife, too. I didn't use the fish-eye but someone who's better at taking advantage of it's capabilities could find lots of opportunities to use it.
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Old Jun 1, 2012, 8:33 PM   #7
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Wonderful photos, and just like your earlier set, these bring back fond memories. I also walked the tundra interpretive trail -- in fact I spent over an hour on that trail, forcing myself to acclimate to the elevation.

My first day in the National Park, I did the Dream Lake - Emerald Lake hike, and I was utterly spent when I got back to the Bear Lake parking area. I was so tired I had to rest for about 30 minutes before I felt I could drive safely. I was alarmed by how much the altitude affected me because as you know, that wasn't a very tough hike.

I took a leisurely drive up Trail Ridge Road, and stopped at the tundra trail, where I forced myself to "power walk" the trail numerous times. I hoped that exerting myself at such a high altitude would force my body to adjust quickly. It seemed to work -- the next day I hiked to The Loch, which was a longer and steeper hike than what I had done the day before but I felt much less worn out after the hike on the second day.

In the fall, our son will be starting graduate school in Denver so we're hoping that will serve as a good excuse to return to that wonderful area.
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Old Jun 1, 2012, 9:10 PM   #8
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Beautiful shots all. We camped along the Cache La Poudre river a few years back and it is gorgeous scenery.
You captured it well.
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Old Jun 2, 2012, 7:57 AM   #9
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Harriet we made the same trip in 2008. Starting in Estes Pass we got as far as Rainbow Pass and had to wait more than an hour for crews to finish cleaning a snow storm that shut the road for two days prior to our arrival. We went up to the Alpine Visitor Center and like Mtnman I started getting altitude sickness so we got back in the car and drove on. As soon as we got down a few hundred feet I felt much better and we drove out the other end of park and continued on to the Black Canyon of The Gunnison NP.

Your pictures are great and bring back a flood of memories of this beautiful park. When we were up on the tundra the wind was so strong that it was hard to hold the camera steady. Your weather looked fine and clear and the pictures are sharp and bright. Nice shooting!

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Old Jun 3, 2012, 6:18 PM   #10
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Thanks so much for the wonderful tour of an amazing place - such complex habitats, such vast scenes... Will look forward to more!
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