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Longs Peak from Many Parks Curve

Longs Peak from Many Parks Curve, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Longs Peak from Many Parks Curve, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

I envisioned this photograph long before I was able to make it. As I imagined it, I would photograph Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park from Many Parks Curve on Trail Ridge Road at sunrise right after a snowfall. The sun would be shining through the snow-laden branches of a convenient tree, bathing the snowy foreground in pink light, and Longs Peak would rise in the background.

The catch was that the shot could only work if I made it around winter solstice, when the sun rises as far to the south of east as it will for the entire year. Winter solstice was the only time that it would be possible to put Longs Peak and the rising sun into one frame using my widest-angle lens. To further stack the odds against me, the park had to receive a calm, “upslope” snow at just the right time. Most mid-winter storms blow out of the northwest, with strong winds that strip the trees of snow and scour exposed areas down to bedrock. In certain unusual upslope storms, however, the wind temporarily blows out of the east, bringing with it abundant moisture that loads the trees and creates a winter wonderland. For several years, I watched the forecast closely during late December and early January, hoping for the right conditions. Finally, in early January 2007, the park was favored with just such a storm and I succeeding in capturing the scene you see here.

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