Photo Essay: Backpacking to Upper Red Pine Lake

There is a story behind every image.

Last week, I did a little overnight backpacking trip to Red Pine Lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Here's the story:

I hiked past Lower Red Pine Lake, hoping the Upper Red Pine Lake would be more scenic. The snow was soft in the afternoon sun, and every step felt as if I were taking a half step back. As I got closer to the top of the large snow slope, I heard an unsettling 'whumpf' under my feet. At this point, I was completely exhausted. Pure adrenaline kicked in and I ran the rest of the way up. Thankfully, it was only a bluff. I caught my breath and looked at my watch. I had gained 500' in 1/4 mile.

I set up camp under White Baldy and decided to cook some dinner on my homemade stove before I shot sunset. For some reason, either the cold or the altitude (although neither were extreme), my alcohol burning stove would not heat up my water. I tried four times before I just completely gave up. The only ready-to-eat food I had with me was a clementine and some chips. I was just glad it was only an overnighter.

The temperature dropped as a storm cloud crept over the mountains to the south. As a photographer, I get excited about clouds, especially storm clouds. Unless, of course, they block out the sunset entirely, and drop tons of rain on your camp. This time they served as dramatic sunset clouds, cleared up enough for star shots, and didn't drop any moisture. I definitely lucked out.

By this moment, I realized the drama was happening on the opposite side of my camp. I wanted to get sunset shots with my tent in the foreground. So I ran to get me tent...

I picked up my tent with everything still in it, ran to the light, set it down in position and shot away. Once again, luck was in my favor. The light gave me one last chance to get the shot before the color quickly faded away.

As the light waned, I dragged my tent back to its original campsite and turned in for the night.

I ate the rest of my chips, wrote in my journal and listened to the silence surrounding me.

The next morning, I opened my tent door, breathed in the crisp air and thanked God for creating such amazing beauty, and for giving me the drive and ability to get to these awesome places. I am, most definitely, blessed to be alive.

Published: May 28, 2014

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