When my company had a team trip to the Grand Tetons in 2016, I was super excited for the opportunity to see an incredibly beautiful mountain range. One of the activities we could choose was an early morning animal photography experience, where hypothetically we would get to see some of Wyoming’s extraordinary wildlife up close. This event turned out to be kind of a bust – we mostly stayed in a bus and drove around looking for wildlife. And while we got to see some animals here and there, it was tough taking great photos from a bus by the side of the road.
In 2011 we took a trip to the Peak District to see some of the UK’s most spectacularly beautiful countryside. While we were there, we also made a stop at the amazing Chatsworth House where we took a self-guided tour of the house and the grounds. Chatsworth is one of the most famous houses in England (having been used in a variety of television shows and movies you’ve probably heard of), and while the entire house is incredible, I was especially wowed by this breathtaking library.
One of the things about traveling to Sydney from New York is that the jet lag will wake you up early. The time difference is 10 hours ahead, tomorrow, which more or less means that you want to be awake when everyone else is asleep and vice-versa. While this can be incredibly annoying, it does have the one benefit of making it easy to plan for sunrise photos. If I’m going to be wide awake anyway, I might as well capture something special. So it was with this in mind that I started looking for a place to go and see the world wake up.
On our visit to Scotland in 2012, we made a stop by the Dochfour estate near Inverness to take a look around. The weather was sunny with bright blue skies, something that I think is pretty unusual for Scotland. I’m sure the locals were loving it, but I did wish for a few clouds to help add some drama to my photos. The sunsets were also harsh and a bit hazy, so I needed to get a little creative. Finding this wonderful forest was just the ticket, and it gave me a great way to put some pop in my photos.
Thanks to a helpful coincidence in work travel, I was able to make a trip to Pagosa Springs, Colorado to see my parents for a few days. While planning my stay, I decided I also wanted to add some solo backpacking to my visit. My first plan was to hike the Lime Mesa trail to Emerald Lake in the Weminuche Wilderness, but while the stretch from the trailhead to the overlook is well documented, I had trouble finding information about the trail down to the lake itself. With the overlook portion sitting well above tree line, I realized I did not want to be caught there during one of Colorado’s infamous afternoon monsoons – especially given the lightning danger. I would be taking on a lot of risk if I couldn’t make the supposedly tricky descent down the unmaintained trail to the lake before lunchtime.
Thankfully, I had a good last-minute recommendation from my mother and one of her friends to switch my plan to Quartz Lake in the South San Juan Wilderness instead. The trail to the lake is well documented, and it had just as much scenic promise as the original plan. Even though I had never been to the lake, I had previously hiked a portion of the trail as a day hike – a plus because I knew what I was getting myself into. After some quick map reading, Google Earthing, and GPS checking, I locked in my plan and set out the following morning.