San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Mountain Spirits, San Juan Mountains, Colorado
Picture By Brian VanDenzen

Practically each October, I journey into the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado to bask within the heat days and crisp, cool nights of fall, and to seek out that quiet interior peace {that a} second of excessive nation autumn gentle and shimmering aspen gold can present to the soul. Whereas the San Juan Mountains provide a few of the most well-known fall vistas in all of images, I now look extra for lesser-known scenes than the long-lasting autumn areas that draw so many photographers to those mountains.

On a chilly, wet Friday night in mid-October, I drove as much as Molas Cross close to Silverton, Colorado, parked alongside a forest street, and slept behind my truck. Because the rain continued all evening closely, I slept restlessly, questioning if the Saturday morning dawn would materialize. Upon waking two hours earlier than daybreak, the world was enveloped in fog that I doubted would clear earlier than first gentle.

However, not desirous to miss a peaceable morning within the autumn excessive nation, I layered up and hiked a brief distance to a vista of an outdated miner’s cabin I had scouted quite a few occasions over time. I knew that from a sure spot within the timber, an outdated two-track dust street would make a pleasant main line towards the deserted cabin and the distant mountains. And I knew there was a stand of aspen sitting behind the cabin—a stand that I hoped would nonetheless present its golden, shimmering fall coloration this late within the season. The varied compositional components have been all in place to make the autumn dawn picture I envisioned, if solely the fog would elevate sufficient to permit morning gentle to stream via the scene. I sat quietly within the chilly, fog-shrouded woods because the time for dawn got here and went with out the heat of the solar. Whereas disenchanted in lacking the golden dawn gentle I had envisioned, I used to be warmed by the sound of a bugling of elk someplace far under within the mountain valley.

Lastly, about 90 minutes after dawn, the fog started to bop intermittently with beams of penetrating daylight. I used to be lucky to see a column of fog elevate from the valley and above the golden aspen timber instantly behind the cabin, illuminated by a beam of daylight from the east. As I used to be making ready to shoot, I assumed that the deep contrasts of a black-and-white picture would finest seize the second and the query I had contemplated most of that foggy morning: What was the spirit of the individuals who constructed and lived in that lonely, one-room cabin, laborious on the aspect of a rocky mountain meadow?

Maybe, just like the decaying cabin, their spirit was nothing greater than a fleeting second, misplaced with the lifting fog. But on that foggy, chilly autumn morning, I believed from deep inside that these mountains nonetheless remembered their spirit. OP

See extra of Brian VanDenzen’s work at desertdogphotography.com.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM at 70mm, Singh-Ray 3-stop graduated impartial density filter, Lee round polarizer, distant shutter launch, Gitzo GT2542LS Sequence 2 tripod, Acratech GP ball head. Publicity: 1/60 sec., ƒ/8, ISO 160.

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