A year ago, Hailey and I drove up Buffalo Pass Road but only got as far as the Dry Lake Campground. We were in her little red Alero, which has roughly 2 inches of clearance, and the road was getting a bit too rocky. It’s not a 4×4 road by any means…it was just getting annoying hearing things scrape the bottom of the car.
This go around, our friends were driving, and I was driving them nuts: “oo-oo-oo…stop here…” These are patient people folks. They let me photograph at nearly every bend in the road.
We reached the top of the pass right around 5pm, just as the light was getting super rich. Buffalo Pass sits on the Continental Divide, and right there, straddling the watersheds, is Buffalo Lake (above). There didn’t appear to be an outlet on either side, but I have heard of a few lakes in this type of position that supply water to both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. One of those flukes in geography.
Here is a topo map of the route from Steamboat Springs to Buffalo Pass. Gotta love The Google. Turns out there is an outlet and it flows to the Gulf of Mexico via the North Platte, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers. Thanks Google. Mine own eyes couldn’t have seen that.
Anyhow, there isn’t much of a story at Buffalo Lake. We stood on the shore, we saw a duck. Like I said earlier, these friends of mine are patient people, even when you step in the way of their binoculars as they look at duck.
Taking shots like these brings me back to those early years when I was first getting into photography with my Nikon FM. I was 18 years old, ready for college, and I had a whole summer devoted to two things (1) making $8/hour at a day care center Monday through Friday and (2) hikes in the mountains with Matt from Saturday to Sunday. Those were good days, and capturing the story of each hike became an obsession. Nowadays, landscapes are bit harder for me. As beautiful as the scenery is, it’s tough to find that unique way of seeing it.
Below is a panorama of four shots I stitched together in Photoshop (click on the image for a larger view). This is looking north toward Wyoming, about 2/3 the way up the pass.
Here are the girls…Lexi, Hailey, Shannon and Jenny. All from different walks of life, all married to dudes from south Denver.
This is the quintessential Colorado sky. It’s impossible to be grumpy, consumed, nervous, anxious or irritable under a sky like that.
I think the only spot that tops this for fall color in Colorado — that I’ve seen firsthand — is Kebler Pass. I have been over Dallas Divide a few times, but never in the fall. Same with Maroon Bells. Perhaps next year we’ll go camp near Dallas Divide and Silverjack Reservoir. Autumn is increasingly becoming my favorite time of year in the Rockies. It is just so overwhelming with its beauty, its color and its fleeting nature. It’s hard not to be moved by it.
At the end of Buffalo Pass Road, we pulled over and let Tim loose. He was feeling cooped up, so he raced into this field, flushed a flock of blackbirds and then cast muscleman shadows on a hay bale. The next morning, I got an encore of showmanship, but with better results. Perhaps I’ll get that post up by this weekend.