Like A Moth To A Flame, Dream Lake Again

Dream Lake Sunrise, Rocky Mountain National Park. Hallet and Flattop Mountain reflect in the glassy surface of Dream Lake
I had been purposefully attempting not to photograph at Dream Lake. It's much too tempting of a location for a photographer and it's easy to pass up all the other spectacular lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. After all, I only have a limited amount of time to photograph all the wonders of Rocky. This scene was just to irresistible to pass up. Fresh snow, a lake surface of glass that had not frozen, and beautiful clouds overhead stopped my in my tracks. Technicial Details: Canon EOS 1ds III, 17mm F4 TS-E L
As I mentioned in my entry last week, I had some epic conditions last week in Rocky Mountain National Park. As such, I figured I’d save the best for last.

Having the photography Gods shine down on you can be one of the most rewarding experiences one can have in the field. Of course you have to make sure your actually in a position to take advantage of the conditions your presented with. There is not a worse feeling than watching an amazing sunrise a half mile short of your intended destination, and I’ve been party to that on more than one occasion.

The end of last week was cloudy, cool and rainy on the Front Range. It was cool enough that the snow line was hovering around 9000 feet. Above 9000 feet, heavy wet snow was falling, even though the temperature was right around the freezing mark. It was supposed to stay cool and wet from Friday right through Sunday.

Knowing full well, that’s it’s hard to keep the Colorado Sun hidden behind clouds for an entire 3 days, I figured we could have an interesting sunrise. Even if a good Sunrise failed to materialize, I love shooting water features and other more intimate landscapes under the diffused and cloudy light. All the conditions were setting up for a no lose situation for photography.

With the conditions in mind I planned on hiking up to Emerald Lake above Dream Lake to photograph sunrise. This summer, I’m trying to avoid Dream Lake like the plaque. Not because Dream Lake is not one of the most beautiful alpine locations in all of Colorado, but very much for that reason.

So starting my hike from the Bear Lake trailhead, I had no intention of stopping or photographing Dream Lake. There was a nice fresh layer of snow coating all the tree’s and the Ranger cottage leaving Bear Lake. Fog and clouds were present over the lower lying areas of the Plains below, but clear blue sky was present above Rocky Mountain National Park.

Arriving at Emerald Lake after the 1.5 mile hike in, I found the surface of the lake to be frozen over with a thin layer of ice and snow. I would not be getting a reflection shot of Hallet in Emerald Lake, but the lake’s frozen surface with fresh snow looked intriguing enough. I was disappointed that it was looking like a cloudless, clear blue sky morning. As if on queue with my shutter firing off at first light, some clouds started to appear above Hallet.

I photographed at Emerald for 25 minutes or so. I was able to capture a beautiful red hue lighting Hallet, with clouds skating overhead. A small band of fog even formed over the surface of the frozen lake making for some nice images. Satisfied with the images I had captured of Emerald Lake, I packed up and headed back out towards my vehicle, the hike of course, would take me right past Dream Lake.

I’ve photographed Dream Lake plenty, for photographers Dream Lake can be like a moth to a flame. It’s hard not to be tempted by it’s idyllic scenery, symmetry of Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain rising above. As I hiked around Dream Lake on my way out from Emerald, I half heartedly attempted to ignore the unfrozen and placid lake surface. I looked for some images of snow covered trees reflecting in Dream Lake, but found none that interested me.

I was making every attempt to photograph images other than the iconic image of Dream Lake from the eastern outlet. As I neared the eastern outlet, the moth in could no longer resist the flame. This was especially true when I stopped to look back at Hallet and Flattop and noticed that the early morning cloud cover was quickly intensifying over the Lake.

It was at that point, that I could no longer resist temptation. I hastily flung my backpack off and quickly started making images of this beautiful morning. As soon as I framed Hallet and Flattop reflecting in the glass surface of the lake, I was grateful I temporarily at least ended my Dream Lake embargo.

4 thoughts on “Like A Moth To A Flame, Dream Lake Again

  1. Now you made me curious about your Emerald Lake shots. This shot of Dream is very nice though. Somehow it manages to be fresh.

    1. Jao,

      Thanks for the kind words. In some ways I was sort of half hoping they would keep Bear Lake Road closed even on the weekend. That way there would be no way I could end up photographing Dream Lake and I would have to hit other parts of Rocky. Everything just kind of fell into place this morning for me at the lake. Here’s a link to the Emerald Lake shot I took prior to hiking back down to Dream Lake. Emerald Lake At Sunrise

  2. Man,that is a sharp shot!I cant find words to express how amazing this is.Well done Master!

    1. Thanks Robert. I have to give most of the credit to mother nature on this one. I’m thrilled I happen to be at the right spot when this all started shaking out.

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