Some of you have probably seen this image, but I decided to write up a longer description to go with it. Enjoy!
When I pulled into the immensely crowded Maroon Bells parking area at 6:00 PM last Monday, I was instantly greeted by a light rain and echoing thunder in the distance. There had been clear skies an hour ago in Snowmass and, with reports of recent, frequent moose sightings at Maroon Lake, I was excited to see this iconic location again. Although there were no moose this day, the weather did not disappoint.
I gathered my gear from my over-packed car as the rain turned from a drizzle to an outright down-pour, accompanied by an onslaught of dime-sized hail. Even under my ski jacket, I was soaked by the time I could throw my bags back inside and jump into the car.
The scene of the parking lot became something out of a Hollywood movie warning of the end of the world. People ran to their cars or any cover they could find, all of them drenched and screaming in panic. Instead of a beautiful sunset over two majestic peaks, they had another view of nature that night. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the chaos.
The hail let up after a few short minutes but the rain stayed heavy. However, as lightning crashed all around, I had a new inspiration for going to the lake. I put on pack covers and hoped they would be enough to keep the cameras dry. The trail, by this point, was a river several inches deep. A few unfortunate hikers with no rain gear splashed through at full speed - the last people I would see until after the storm passed. Even in the heavy rain and with a decent possibility of lightning strike, I was surprised not to see anyone else in an area that can seemingly rival the crowds of a big-box retailer on Black Friday.
As I made the short walk to the lake’s side, nearly every step was accompanied by a flash of lightning. Each strike brought with it a deafening thunderclap that shook the earth and rattled bones. I witnessed a streak of lightning smash into the side of nearby Sievers Mountain and was almost knocked off my feet by the sound wave. The thunder echoed several times in a display of power like nothing I had ever witnessed.
Once lake-side, I set up my 5D Mk III with the added waterproofing of a shower cap and customized lens hood to keep rain off the front element. I set up my brand new lightning strike sensor only to watch as a bolt landed just left of Maroon Peak. The sensor didn’t fire. I cursed and pushed my exposure as far as I could take it in the darkness of thick clouds and locked down my cable release just in time. After a few 10 second exposures another strike lit up the valley as it slammed into the jagged ridge, this time to the right of North Maroon. I captured only a few more cloud-to-cloud strikes after that, and it wasn’t until processing the image that night that I discovered the small finger of electricity rising from North Maroon Peak. What better way could there be to great the changing of the seasons?
Shot with Canon 5D Mk III, Canon 24-70L 2.8 II lens at 24mm, f/2.8 and 100 ISO for 10 seconds.
Editing of the image included desaturating the blue from the left side and magenta from the right to even out the white balance of the strike. I also did a bit of burning in the skies and dodging of the trees in the foreground.
- Cryosphere refers to any portion of the Earth's surface where water is in solid form, including glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, sea ice, snow cover, frozen rivers, lakes, and permafrost. The Cryosphere is closely linked to the Hydrosphere and plays a crucial role in the ecosystem and our everyday lives.
- I've chosen the name because Cryosphere encompasses a wide range of ice around the world. This blog is meant to chronicle not all glaciers, but those that I experience and photograph in my travels. My vision is to visit and write about as many glaciers and other ice forms as possible while I pursue knowledge and share experiences of a beautiful world of ice. I hope you enjoy the photographs and follow along as I go!
* Beware: Glaciers area a dangerous place to those that do not know the risks and have the proper skills to navigate them safely. Do not attempt travel on or near any glacier without proper skills or an experienced guide.