I just can’t get enough of this iconic location. I was here almost exactly six years ago, in November 2006. There was a bit more snow then, and I had to make trail through it to get to Crater Lake, a small body of water at about 10,350 feet in the wilderness just outside Aspen. Like the last time, I was the only car in the parking lot when I get there an hour and a half before sunrise. It was a bit breezy, and though it was probably not more than 20 degrees I felt quite comfortable with just a couple layers. I had a long four day weekend to chose a morning for my hike; since Friday and Saturday looked totally clear and Monday looked cloudy and possibly snowing–Sunday morning looked like my best bet. I expected some higher clouds moving in ahead of the storm, just enough for a nice sunrise.
I donned my headlamp and made my way along side Maroon Lake to make it to for me the start of the trail up to Crater. It was a wonderfully clear morning, and the Big Dipper really stood out amongst the thousands of stars above. Enough people had hiked there the day before that the trail was now a narrow river of very slick ice, and I regretted leaving traction for my boots behind. But I needed to be at Crater for sunrise, so I gingerly paced up the trail, trying to stay in the snow as much as possible. About half way up I spotted a headlamp high on the slopes of Pyramid Peak–one of the toughest 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado to climb. Whoever was up there evidently had parked somewhere else–and given the 50+ mph winds that were surely buffeting the slopes of Pyramid–they were also seriously hard core climbers!
About an hour or so from my departure, I reached Crater Lake. I had anticipated from the temperatures in Aspen the past few days that the lake would be partially frozen; and my hunch proved correct, there was still some water flowing in the middle of the lake. Unfortunately the thawed out part was a bit too far in for me to safely photograph the edge of the ice, but there were plenty of other compositions to be found along the lake shore. As sunrise approached, clouds started moving in and the scene was irresistible.
Crater Lake, November 3, 2013
Icy Crater Lake
I hiked a bit along the creek that runs into Crater Lake, to take some shots of the creek and 14,000 foot Maroon Bells–the most photographed mountains in North America!
West Maroon Creek
The light was hitting the jagged peaks of Sievers Mountain to the northeast, so I grabbed some shots of the wonderful show!
November sunrise from Crater Lake.
Sievers Mountain from West Maroon
I spent the next hour or so taking timelapse shots of the mountains and lake. I plan on incorporating this footage in a music video that I am working on this winter. Here’s a still from the sequence:
The Maroon Bells on a beautiful November morning.
By the time I got back to the trailhead, it had clouded up and even a few snow flakes were falling. So, my timing could not have been better. But regardless of the weather, I can’t think of a better place to be in early November than Maroon Bells.