The simple beauty of the mountains

"Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev

I can't possibly come up with a better way to describe how I feel about being in the mountains.  They are awe-inspiring and glorious.  They are beautiful and photogenic.  Simply put, they fill my soul.

And while my bucket list of "hope to get there" spots is populated with places that are surrounded by mountains, or in the midst of them (a sample off the top of my head: New Zealand, Iceland, multiple spots across Europe, a return to Banff...the list goes on), the truth is that I live in central Texas, and apart from some hills here, the mountains are not even close.

What that means is that I rarely get the chance to go explore them.  However, when I do, it's often in New Mexico, where we tend to go when we have the time.  The key parts of New Mexico that we gravitate towards are a good 12 hour drive from here in Austin, so to be clear, this is not a regular occurrence.  This is not a long-weekend-getaway thing.  This takes planning.

So last summer, because we had the time (and we planned it), we headed up to Red River, NM which is sort of in the far north central part of the state, nestled deep in the Carson National Forest.  It's about 3 hours north from Albuquerque, if that helps.  It's way up there, and it's a hell of a drive from home (though well worth it!).

We've been there many times, and will surely return again some day.  Some places have a tendency to draw you back.  While there, we do all the usual things that people on a summer holiday do in the mountains: fishing, hiking, overeating which results in more hiking, you know - all the good stuff.

One day we had been out past another nearby town known as Questa, where I spent some time shooting this cemetery, and then capturing this road shot that ended up being a pretty popular blog post.  Anyways, en route back to Red River (about 30 minutes), we passed this little lake.

I have passed it many times - and even shot there once a few years back - but never had anything that I liked, and thus never did anything with the pics.  But on this visit things were different.

There were some incredible clouds out that day (as you can see in the other two blog posts highlighted above as well as in today's post), and so the sky was literally just insane.  I would take a sky like that EVERY SINGLE DAY for the rest of my life.  I love things like that. Such drama. Such beauty.  Such intensity.  The light was coming through and sprinkling itself across the scene in all the right ways.  The water was as still as glass, and the reflections were crisp.  It was perfect.

So we pulled over, and I hopped out to grab a few shots.  I would love to tell you that I struggled to climb over a steep ridge, scrambling with my gear the whole way, nearly slipping a few times, and finally arriving to a pristine alpine lake buried deep in the mountains...but that would be complete bullshit.

I may have walked 10 yards from the car to take these shots.  No, I'm not lazy - it's just that the parking lot is RIGHT THERE.  It's next to the lake.  So I climbed out, took these shots, and climbed back in to the air-conditioned car.  It took me less than 10 minutes, by a wide margin.  I might even have been able to shoot from the car, had I thought of that.  It's that close.  

That's an easy day in the mountains - and a wonderful one, at that!

By the way, all of these photos are from single exposures - no HDR today.  Although I still enjoy HDR, I am doing a bit less of it as I continue on this creative journey.  But more on that later.  Thanks for stopping by, and hope you enjoyed the photos!