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San Juan Mountains, Colorado: Day 1 - Sunrise from Clear Lakes Basin


San Juan Mountains, Colorado: Day 1 - Sunrise from Clear Lakes Basin

Joe Rossbach

It started out like any other day, I was scouting locations in advance of a week of private guiding in the mountains. I rolled into Silverton around 2pm and filled my provisions for the night, fueled up and checked my tires and spares before heading up the rough road to Stony Pass to see the wildflower conditions. They where excellent and I spent an hour hiking and shooting the landscape under stormy monsoon skies above 12,000 feet. 

I then decided to drop over the southern route of Stony Pass towards the Rio Grande Reseviour. This turned out to be the worst 4x4 road I have ever driven and it took me nearly 3 hours to go 25 miles. Arriving late in Lake City, I decided to try to dart out to American Basin to set up camp for sunrise the next morning. It was getting dark as I left the pavement and hit he dirt on the Alpine Loop. It wasn't but an hour later that I discovered that the route I had taken was wrong and I was headed towards Engineer Pass. An easy drive from the west side, but as I would discover a very rough and technical 4x4 once over the pass. I came down that damned 4x4 track well after 10pm in the dark and it was a bit scary to say the least. Rolling into Silverton after 11pm, I decided to make my way up to Clear Lake Basin, arriving around midnight. I slept a very deep sleep for 5 hours and awoke to an amazing sky above the basin. 

A few minutes after getting ou of the tent in the cold of the morning, I found myself in the middle of a small stream compsoing this image. I waited until the sun rose and painted the mountain peaks in morning color before capturing the image. I love Colorado!

We've just released a new 8 day, 7 night photo/camping tour of these majestic mountain for next summer. Limited to an intimate group of 5 photographers -