After waiting for a year, I finally got a chance to return to a spot in the backcountry with a great view of Glacier Gorge, Longs Peak, and (the reason for going) the Milky Way. With a great location in mind, I carefully planned for a morning where a thin moon would rise to the east of the mountains to give them some natural illumination. So with a little research on the Milky Way, I found that March 18th was a good early season date to give it a try - as long as the weather cooperates, that is. So with a plan in mind, friends Chris Kirby, Jon Blake, David Kingham, and Jim Casteel and I set off up the snow covered trail in the darkness (3:30am) to see if my plan was worth a #&$*(.
As it turned out, Mother Nature brought us some awesome skies with just a hint of clouds toward foothills to reflect some light pollution. It also turned out to be one of the warmest and most comfortable experiences I've had in the hills since last summer! Anyway, I had a chance to try some gear I'd replaced since last year and some technique I'd been playing with. We only had about 30 minutes of good visibility on the Milky Way before it disappeared at twilight so we definitely had to make the most of it. But even with that short window we did well. In fact, I'm thinking my plan was worth a #$(&#! :-)
This composite image comes from a blend with a 4-minute long-exposure for the foreground and 10 stacked 8-second exposures for the sky. It was taken just below Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. We were all very excited to see such amazing night-time colors and detailed celestial wonders that are unfortunately a rarity for many people to see with their own eyes. Beyond the chance to create some amazing photographs, it was a whole lot of fun getting out into the backcountry - especially with such great friends.