Marmot Peek-a-Boo

A few weeks ago we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a hike up to Lawn Lake.  It’s a trail we haven’t done in a few years, even though we really enjoyed the trip the one and only time we’d gone up there.  The hike isn’t steep, but it is very long – we clocked nearly 14 miles by the time our day was done!

This time around, I was crazy enough to take the big camera with me for the entire trek, only adding weight to the pack I had to carry.  No worries though because it meant more calories burned (which translates into less guilt over celebratory food & beverages afterward!) and I was rewarded with some fun with a marmot.

The hike up was uneventful.  Gorgeous, but uneventful.  Not a ton of wildlife, but plenty of scenery and wildflowers in bloom…

…some shadows out to play along the Rolling River…

Shadows & Rocks

…and some downed trees that made for an abstract that I can’t help but think looks like a rhino or a triceratops tilting its angry head.

Creatures in Wood

Lawn Lake is spectacular on an average day.  Add the fabulous weather we had and it was simply scrumptious!

Approaching Lawn Lake

While we were plopped down on the lake shore for a spot of lunch, I got inspired.  The rocks on the opposite side of the lake – for some reason – every time I looked at them, I kept thinking they looked painted.  That gave me a post-processing idea… once I got home, I tossed the Photoshop oil paint filter on it and voila!  Not quite what I pictured in my mind, but it still came out funky, especially with what it did to the grasses and pines along the shore:

Oil Painted Rocks

If it seems like I’m glossing over the hike, I sorta am, but for good reason.  Not only can I say “it’s so gorgeous up there” so many times and bore even myself, but also we had more fun on the way down the trail after lunch thanks to a new marmot friend we made during a lengthy game of peek-a-boo!

I saw the little guy scoot across the trail about 25 yards ahead of us and park himself in a set of boulders on the side of the trail.  Knowing that marmots tend to graze in and around rocks scrounging for little bits of lichen and mosses, I knew he’d be back out, so I started to get into position for when he did.

Bingo!  Oh, hello there…

Why, Hello...

Clearly I’d been spotted, but he didn’t run away.  Knowing that they can be skittish and don’t move nearly as fast as say, a chipmunk, I bided my time.  Each time he popped back into his little hiding spot, I slowly crept up another step or two to get closer to him.  (I always keep a healthy and respectable distance away from critters, balancing not spooking them with where I need to be for grabbing a shot.)

Every time after I’d step forward, I’d see a little nose pop out and check out the situation:

Still There?

After about 15 minutes of this dance, I think he decided to “smile” (unlikely) or was simply annoyed with my presence and my taking so many shots of him:


And with that, we bid each other adieu and everyone went about their day:

Bye Now

Another successful day on the trails in the books!

– JC

Struggles & Rebirth

Now that our site is entirely switched over to the new platform (yay!), it’s time to get back to shooting and updating the site more regularly with fun, new stuff!

Last weekend was the start of the shooting fun.  We took what my husband and I jokingly call a “JoAnn hike.”  That’s a hike where photography is the main focus, as opposed to an “Aaron hike” where we’re trying to scale a mountain or reach a destination before the weather turns or it gets dark.

It’s one of those things that, as much as we joke about it, it’s been a constant struggle for us to balance things out so both of us have a blast on a hike.  My husband loves to cover a lot of ground on a hike to go see some truly awesome sites, but my camera and shooting slows us down (no matter how much I try to travel light or shoot quickly).  The photography hikes are just the opposite – shooting is the primary objective, so I can take as much time as I want composing shots, stopping along the trail whenever something catches my eye, and so on.  While we’ve gotten closer to achieving a balance of both on regular hikes – especially when we’re traveling far from home – some days we do better than others.

But enough about managing the goals of a hike… if you’re on our site and reading this, you’ve got to be wondering, “Did ya get anything good?”  Well, I think the answer to that is yes (though you can be the judge!).

For this trip, I decided we should make an early morning run up to Rocky Mountain National Park.  (The beauty of having moved to our new home in Colorado is that Rocky is barely an hour from our house – so spoiled!!)  I was debating doing a new trail versus something old and familiar.  Since nothing new was jumping out at me, I opted for something familiar like a comfy sweatshirt… the trail up to Loch Vale.

“The Loch” is a pretty popular trail because about 3/4 of a mile into it, there’s a gorgeous waterfall called Alberta Falls.  From there, the trail leads up to several other amazing lakes and other journeys, so we’ve been on this trail a fair bit over the years.  Each time we go up the trail, I’m always looking for little things that I may have never noticed before or making mental notes about the light at the time of day, etc.  For this hike, I got to put that studying to good use!

While I didn’t come away with a huge haul of shots I liked enough to share on the site, I did have a few I was really pleased with.  Better yet was that I found my long-atrophied creative eye and muscle coming back to life the further we went up the trail!  So here’s a gallery of the best shots I brought home from this adventure… (click the images to see a larger version)

Enjoy the shots and by all means, leave me some feedback about the shots, the site, or anything else on your mind!  I’d love to hear from you as we kick things back into gear!!