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Storm Light over the Cimarrons

Storm Light over the Cimarrons, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Storm Light over the Cimarrons, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

I had been photographing fall colors for several days in the Aspen area and the leaves were beginning to fall, so I headed south as a wall of charcoal-black clouds rolled in over the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. For four hours, I drove in pounding rain to the gravel road over Owl Creek Pass, in the San Juan Mountains near Ridgway. At last the rain began to ease off, and I stopped below the pass to work on photos of Chimney Rock.

Another photographer and his wife stopped also. After exposing some film, he volunteered the tip that there was a spectacular group of red and golden aspen on the far side of the pass near Silver Jack Reservoir. Gratefully, I drove over the pass and found the grove he had described. The storm clouds began to lift, exposing fresh-fallen snow on the peaks. A shaft of sunlight found a hazy hole in the clouds and spot-lit the foreground groves of aspen, creating a spectacular contrast between the vibrant, sunlit leaves and the still-shadowed blue background. I never learned the photographer's name, but I will always be thankful for his generosity.

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