it or not, sometimes it can be a struggle figuring out exactly what location I’m going to photograph on any particular morning. It can be a tug of war between committing yourself to hike many miles into a given location, versus changing it up based on photographing an area where the conditions are more favorable for dramatic conditions and lighting. Adjusting to the conditions present or committing to a location the night before both have their benefits, but they also open the possibility of overthink and indecision. I find overthink and indecision not conducive to photography. If they are not remedied quickly, one may be watching a beautiful sunrise unfold from a less than optimal location.
Sometimes however, you just have to ditch the plan, go with the flow and adapt to the conditions at hand. This was the position I found myself in last week in Rocky Mountain National Park. After a long winter I was looking forward to an early morning hike up to the Loch for sunrise. Of course a three mile long hike up to the Loch before sunrise requires a commitment. Once you set off from your car and get into the backcountry, your not going to have the time or energy to turn around and change your plans and put yourself in a good position for the fast approaching sunrise.
Conditions were looking pretty good as I drove through the Beaver Meadows entry to Rocky Mountain National Park. There were plenty of clouds hovering over the park which of course increases the probability for lots of color at sunrise. I made the left turn onto Bear Lake Road and wound my way down through Moraine Park. From Moraine Park one gets a commanding view of the continental divide and the prominent peaks on the east side of Rocky. I could see clearly from Moraine Park that all the clouds had moved east of the continental divide. It sure looked like the peaks would be devoid of any clouds this morning. Regardless I was determined to hike up to the Loch so I continued on to the Glacier Gorge parking lot hoping the cloud cover would thicken over the high peaks.
Arriving at the Glacier Gorge parking lot I could clearly see there were no clouds over any of the peaks to the west but plenty of clouds still to the east. Putting on my backpack I had a nagging feeling that I might not be in the best spot for sunrise. A gust of wind made my decision for me. No clouds over the peaks, lots of wind and decent cloud cover to the east and I was back in my truck quickly heading back down to Moraine Park.
I did not have a great plan at this point but sunrise to the east was looking promising. I figured I would get into the meadow in Moraine Park face east and setup near some water. I settled on a spot near where Cub Creek spills out into Moraine on it’s way towards the Big Thompson. Soon the sky above Moraine Park was ablaze with color and I was busy photographing one beautiful sunrise. So while I missed my hike to the Loch, changing up the game plan and staying flexible paid dividends for me this morning.