We started our vacation this year with a backpacking trip on the Oh-Be-Joyful trail, just outside Crested Butte, CO. The trail follows a stream with the same name through a wide open glacial valley. The surrounding mountains of the Ruby Range are made up of reddish horizontal bands of formerly sedimentary rock. Underfoot, it’s mostly broken pieces of shale. Spruce and aspen cover the peaks and parts of the valley in splotches of paint. Grays and whites of swirling clouds mixed with patches of hopeful blue. My pack was heavy, with four days worth of food, but I didn’t seem to care. After moderate grades at the beginning, it leveled out and the walking was easy. 

We thought we hit the wilderness boundary, but then hit another sign about an hour later. Our progress was slow but after that we kept it going rather steady. Rain threatened, but it was a passing shower. After some searching, we found a good camp, sheltered and out of sight of the trail, but with a grand view nonetheless. The rain came and went numerous times throughout the evening, but we put up the tent, cooked, ate, and cleaned up without undue difficulty. 

The second day started slowly. I woke up late, and while not cloudy, the whole valley was intensely foggy. That and the general dampness made it hard to get moving. The whole morning was casual, and we didn’t hit the trail until 11:30.

After that, we did pretty good. 

The climb went by quickly. I love the shelf topography here, clearly formed by the formerly-sedimentary rock layers. Democrat basin is especially amazing. Dozens of places to camp. We chose one that was relatively sheltered. We got the tent up just in time for the rain. Only a passing shower this time.

Around 2:00 in the morning wind started to howl and thunder echoed in the distance. A thunderstorm was coming through and it sounded like it might be a nasty one. Instead, it was pretty milquetoast. A little disappointing actually.

As day broke another thunderstorm came through. I started to wonder what kind of day we were going to have. Instead, it was sunny with only a few dissipating clouds. We still had a mellow morning, not leaving camp until 11. But everyone wanted to climb to the top of Oh-be-joyful Pass, and climb we did. It was pretty steep in spots, and the final ascent had the kind of steep tumble/crash/injury slope that never seems to bother me, but is actually quite dangerous. The top, well the whole trip, had great views. My son Nate (8) was pretty excited to make it to the top. I had to spend most of the climb retelling The Hobbit, but the story kept him motoring. We had snacks at the top, and then started down, which is when I took a shot back at the pass, my favorite image of the week.

Oh-Be-Joyful Pass

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 18mm, f/9 at 1/1000, ISO 640.

Digital Darkroom. Mountain shots can be hard to get right. I started off the processing of this one by raising the exposure over 1.5 stops. I lowered the contrast and tweaked highlights and clarity. I dropped the blacks -25 to really deepen them. All of this made the foreground look pretty good, but I then had to fix the sky. I lowered the exposure buy a full stop and added +15 to the contrast with a graduated filter, almost bringing those values back to the original. 

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.


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