Stormy Sunrise over Windom and Sunlight Peaks
Stormy Sunrise over Windom and Sunlight Peaks, Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado
Large-format camera equipment is heavy. When I left the road for a five-day wilderness photo shoot with my 4x5 field camera, my pack weighed 70 pounds - about half my body weight. As my knees approached the half-century mark, it became increasingly clear that I needed help to reach the remote wilderness valleys where many of my best photos have been made.
In the summer of 2005, I enlisted a former semi-pro mountain bike racer who is 15 years younger and three inches taller than I am to help me pack my gear into Sunlight Basin, 16 miles from the Vallecito Campground trailhead in the Weminuche Wilderness near Durango. The difficulty of the approach was compounded by the enormous piles of avalanche debris that blocked the trail in six places. An unrelenting series of fierce storms the year before had brought down the biggest avalanches in a hundred years. The avalanches had snapped off hundreds of trees two feet in diameter and piled them up like a giant's game of pickup sticks. The approach took us nearly two days.
Our second morning in Sunlight Basin dawned stormy, but the rising sun found a hole in the clouds and spotlighted 14,082-foot Windom Peak, (on the left) leaving 13,995-foot Sunlight Spire and 14,059-foot Sunlight Peak in deep blue shadow.