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On the Trail in Colorado

Unlike most nature photographers, I rarely go backpacking, spending the night in a tent, to take pictures. Most of the areas I photograph, such as Shrine Ridge above Vail Pass and Mohawk Lakes above Breckenridge - are 3 to 5mile hikes - easily done in a day or less, At the most, with just a daypack, I can cover almost 20 miles up and back (sometimes in the dark). Almost all of my Colorado portfolio since 1983 is from day hikes. Hiking with just a day pack, loaded with just 15 pounds of camera gear, a water bottle, an energy bar, extra clothing for inclement weather, and a 5 pound tripod - allows me to enjoy walking up the trail to that lake. I don't have to trudge along with a heavy backpack and fend off the bears at night. I love to hike with my Shetland Sheepdogs - always on leashes, whether I am in the wilderness or not. The female always in the front, the male behind me - the 3 of us just enjoying the backcountry..Sometimes we go for hours without stopping. When my girlfriend comes with me (since 1992), we each take a dog. On the trail, I stop to take pictures - some bad ones - just to warm up for the lake beyond, and my girl friend gives water to the dogs. We finally reach the lake after that last steep climb. Above tree line, the wind picks up, the clouds come in, and a lake reflection shot becomes impossible. The dogs' ears go up and they start to pull us back down the trail. They know. It's thunder and lightning, closing in fast. So I didn't get any pictures, we scrambled down the trail to the timber, away from the lightning strikes. On the side of the trail were old burned stumps - evidence of past lightning strikes. We finally made it back to the Jeep as the clouds closed in for the rest of the day, No pictures, but the dogs got a good walk out of it, and so did I.