Sun, clouds, thunder, corn snow, and more sun were all part of my annual pilgrimage to Berri Park above Vallecito on June 7.
Given the welcome proliferation of cloudy, rainy weather in Southwest Colorado over the past several weeks, I'd been waiting for a good day (not obstructed by job obligations) to make my first trip of the season into the high mountains. Have you noticed how those glorious sunny Colorado days have happened mainly on weekdays?
The weather was dicier on this day, but good enough for a visit to Vallecito. Other more ambitious trips suck up an entire day, so I'm pickier about the weather for those.
Vallecito was beautiful - the full lake as well as the greenery. The lake was backed up into the willow scrubs where Vallecito Creek comes in. Of course, this was right before a week of rain that forced very high water releases from Vallecito dam to make room for all the water coming in. The full reservoir was good news, but it became too much of a good thing.
I drove around the north end to the back side, up to the Pine River trailhead. The sun played hide and seek in the clouds for ever-changing light on the trees and cliffs. Photography requires patience in those conditions, and a quick shutter finger when the sun pops out.
Then I headed up Middle Mountain Road to Berri Park, one of my favorite places anywhere. Clouds hung dark and low over the high peaks, which still had snow, but nowhere near as much as a week earlier. It's going fast. There was a rumble of thunder in the distance.
I continued up Middle Mountain Road, looking for places to get pictures of the peaks in serious weather, without having a bunch of dead trees in the foreground. You have to realize that I've been up this road many times in different seasons, so I already have photos from the best places. The challenge is to get something different, like mountains disappearing into rain or snow.
As I turned around and headed down the hill, spitting rain turned into corn snow. The car's outside thermomoter said 45 degrees. But before I got to the bottom of Middle Mountain Road, the sun was back out, the mountains had cleared, and the temperature was going back up. It was a good afternoon spent, with time left for should-do's at home.
That's not to say that I actually did any should-do's... I think they're still there.