Lake Helene in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most picturesque locations I’ve ever been too. At the base of Notchtop Mountain and located 3 1/4 miles from the Bear Lake Road Trailhead with 1,300 feet of elevation change it is not a hike/photography expedition for the faint of heart. However, that isolation and the dedication it takes to role your ass out of bed in the morning to get here early make it a place that isn’t photographed too frequently and a location where isolation and being alone while photographing are almost guaranteed. There is a reason I prefer sunrise to sunset and the isolation/peacefulness of sunrise is a big reason for that.
My goal was to get to Lake Helene at 5:30 for the 6 AM sunrise which would give me some time to find a good foreground for the shot. I had to wake up at 2:45 to ensure that I could be in position to make the sunrise and I arrived at the trailhead at 4…hiking at about a mile every half hour I was in the proximity of the Lake by 5:30. Unfortunately, I missed a turn so where along the way and found myself hiking downhill into the Odessa Gorge region. This is where the scouting trip on Friday paid off huge – sometimes we fail to get out and scout the location but in this instance where the Lake Helene trail isn’t marked (at least the spur that takes you to the lake) it is imperative to make sure you have an idea of where you are going or you will wind up lost running around at 5:30 AM trying to find a ‘needle in a haystack’. Ultimately, after some backtracking up the stream that feeds from the lake I was able to work my way back to the lake. Without the scouting trip I would have just kept going down into the Gorge and may not have had a chance to capture this magnificent reflection!
Lake Helene Reflection – Rocky Mountain National Park
For some reason I am still awake at nearly midnight so I’m approaching 24 hours of being awake! I did powernap (ten minutes during taxiing) on the plane back from Denver but other than that I’ve been wide awake – the rush of the outdoors! Photography invigorates me and being out in the mountains is inspirational.
I got a LOT of good pictures this weekend as the weather – nice sunrises and stormy skies during midday followed by decent sunsets so expect a healthy dosage of Rocky Mountain National Park shots over the next few weeks.