Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in Rocky Mountain National Park can tell you stories about the wind. Rocky Mountain National Park can be one of the windiest locales on many days of the year. Winters tend to be windier then the summer but nevertheless I’ve arrived at many locations in the Park to find photographic conditions less than ideal.
One of the locations in Rocky Mountain National Park that I have visited many times to photograph, only to come away with nothing due to the wind is Emerald Lake. Emerald Lake sits .8 miles above the ever popular Dream Lake. It is not photographed as often as Dream Lake for a few reasons. First, it’s hard to walk by the iconic Dream Lake and pass up that view. I suspect many photographers who only make occasional visits to the Park cant resist the lure of Dream Lake’s classic view of Hallet Peak. Secondly, Emerald Lake sits right at the base of Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain. Photographers need a very wide lens in the 14-20mm range on a full frame 35mm camera to be able to capture the entire scene. Lastly, even on a perfectly calm day down the trail at Dream Lake, the area around Emerald Lake will often generate enough of a breeze to foul the surface of the waters and prevent the classic peak and reflection type image.
Earlier this week I was able to get up to Emerald Lake on one of these such days when there is no wind. Due to the lack of clouds this morning I played around a bit with my compositions. While I was able to capture the classic peak and reflection image with a cloudless sky above Hallet, I used my 16-35mm lend to isolate the reflection of Hallet Peak in Emerald Lake along its rocky talus shores while minimizing the cloudless blue sky.
I’ve been spending a fair amount of time this summer in the Bear Lake area adding some additional locations to my Rocky Mountain Portfolio. While there has been little discussion about the issue, photographing the Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge areas is going to be getting significantly more difficult in the near future due to a second phase of road construction on the bottom portion of Bear Lake road. Back in 2004 the National Park Service completed a fairly large road construction project on the upper portion of Bear Lake road. The 2004 road construction project made access to the Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge trailheads difficult.
At the time, Park shuttles were the only way to access those trailheads at the time and unfortunately, they started running at 5:00 AM if I recall correctly. Sunrise in the middle of Summer occurs around 5:30 AM so even if your on the first shuttle, your not likely to even get to Bear Lake in time for first light and you can pretty much forget hiking into locations farther in the back country like Dream Lake or the Loch. The Phase II portion of road construction is slated to begin in mid October and last through the Summer of 2012. While it appears the 5.1 miles of Bear Lake Road that will be under construction will be closed during the night to traffic, it also appears that it will be closed during much of the day with the exception of some holidays. Either way its going to make photographing these areas more difficult for foreseeable future starting in the middle of October.