Don't Sleep for a Dream

Get up at 2:30am?  Are you crazy?  Drive two hours to Rocky Mountain National Park at 2:30am?  Are you nuts?  Yea, I think I am a little nuts, but it’s amazing what I’ll do now to see a great sunrise!  I have come to really appreciate this beautiful world and take every opportunity to see something new and spectacular about this wonderful planet.  A good sunrise will get me up at 2:30am and cause me to drive two hours to Rocky Mountain National Park.  To my surprise, my wife and my girls decided they wanted to join me for the early morning trek to Rocky Mountain National Park to catch the sunrise at Dream Lake and an early morning reflection at Emerald Lake.

It’s an eerie feeling walking up a hiking trail and it’s basically dark out with the only thing lighting the way is what was lit by the moon light.  I had a camper’s head lamp on and so that lit the way for me while the girls had flashlights, but you could only see about 5 feet in front of you.  You hear rustling in the shrubbery around you, and those thoughts of dangerous wildlife start dancing in your head.

The light from the sun coming up was finally starting to give some light to our trail about a 1/2 mile into the hike.  The ascent toward Dream lake took us through some switch backs and around one of the corners we came upon a large male elk eating in the brush above us and then going around the next bend and even larger elk with a huge rack was grazing right next to the trail.  It really startled us!  I wasn’t really sure if this elk was aggressive or not.  I didn’t have my camera out so I slowly lowered my pack to grab my camera to try to take a shot.  It was still quite dark, but I was able to raise the ISO up and capture a few and decided to walk slowly past the grazing elk.  I think he was just hungry and trying to finish his morning breakfast before the crowds hit the trail.  He just looked at me and moved further down the path away from us.  This wasn’t a great shot, but it’s one I caught before he moved away from me.

Good Morning! - ©Rick Louie Photography - All Rights Reserved.
Click to Enlarge - Good Morning! - ©Rick Louie Photography - All Rights Reserved.

Capture Notes:

Taking pictures of the elk and enjoying some of the scenery on the way up I lost track of time and so I missed the premium civil twilight at Dream Lake, but did manage to capture some of the alpenglow on Flattop Mountain and a great reflection off of the lake. It was still an awesome sunrise!   It’s amazing what 15 minutes will do to change the way a landscape looks.  The sun rose higher and the color of the lake changed from a dark blue to a green.  By the time we were on our way down from Emerald Lake, Dream Lake’s reflection had disappeared.
My wife and my girls were tired after our hike, but were really happy they had gotten up early.  The trail was really started to get crowed as we finish our hike (about 10:00am). There was no longer elk on the side of the trail and no more beautiful reflection.  They say the early bird captures the worm.  It’s really true, except this early bird caught an amazing sunrise and reflection here at Dream Lake.
Dream Lake - ©Rick Louie Photography - All Rights Reserved.
Click for Licensing through Getty Images

Capture Notes:

 

 

  • You know what they say…go early or stay home! That’s the only way you’ll get beautiful shots like these!

  • You are crazy! But the reward is SO worth it! Wonderful images Rick!

  • Thanks! I appreciate the comments!

  • Wow what two great photos. Love the reflections on Dream Lake. The elk is one of those great unplanned moments.

  • That was a very early start! But the images were worth it. That elk is a superb specimen. And the alpenglow is pretty special – but as you say it changes so fast – blink and you miss it!