2015 was a big year. I started a brand new full time job in February which meant that my travel schedule changed quite a bit. I still had the opportunity to take some amazing trips and spent quite a bit of time exploring Copenhagen in greater depth. I also made it home to the US for the first time in two years for a road trip through Southwestern Colorado. In addition to these trips I also took a 19 day trip through Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand – however, that trip ended on December 29th, which means that while the photos were taken in 2015, they’ll be included in my 2016 roundup as I’ve got about 150 GB of photos to sort through! In 2015 I also upgraded from my Canon 600D to a Canon 6D which brought with it exciting new opportunities but also some growing pains.
Each is linked to the related album on flickr and uploaded in full-resolution. If you’d like to license one of these photos please reach out to me directly. Want to use one for your computer desktop or background? Be my guest as all photos are uploaded under a CC non-commercial license. Want to help support me or send a thank you? Shop camera gear (and everything else) over on Amazon through my affiliate link or contribute to my new camera gear fund via PayPal.
Want to see my 65 favorite color photos from 2015? Click here.
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With one arm resting half-in, half-out of the diver’s side window of our white Chevy Crew Cab pickup truck the wind raced over my skin, cooling it, while tugging gently at my arm hairs. A periodic errant gust would collide with my skin before diverting inward to tickle my face and fill my ears with the sound of the fresh black tarmac whizzing by beneath rugged truck tires. My eyes locked forward on the road, one hand on the wheel casually navigating the high mountain two-lane highway that threaded through the passes near Silverton in south-western Colorado.…
In the midst of Rocky Mountain National Park is a lone winding paved road. It slowly crawls between imposing peaks, and makes its way through gorgeous meadows and along pristine streams. The road is lined by grazing elk, deer, bighorn sheep and the occasional moose as it starts a gradual climb towards the heavens. Our route took us past aspen as they just started to begin their transition from rich greens to golden reds and yellows, and then wound up and along Trail Ridge Road. The road, which is daunting by today’s standards but which must have been a borderline rollercoaster ride when it first opened to car traffic in the 1920s, is (I believe) the highest paved road in the continental US at 12,183 feet.
As we reached the top and paused regularly at the many overlooks we were greeted by dramatic skies with lots of blue, and massive white puffy but windblown clouds that had just dumped a light dusting of snow on the mountain tops. At one of the overlooks we set aside some time to relax and for a quick snack. As we did, and tiny snowflakes blew past us under sunny skies, David went through a series of exercises. I snapped this shot as he stood on the edge of a rather large cliff and made the most of the majestic vista that stretched out before us.
It’s one of the more gorgeous drives in the US and a definite must-see if you get the chance. Both for the natural beauty as well as the incredible up close encounters with wild animals which often accompany the drive through the park.
Stay tuned for more photos from the Colorado Rockies and San Juan Mountains. I’m currently working my way through the 2,200 photos I shot.
Would you like to see previous Weekly Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera.
To this day I experience a strong longing to return to Argentina. It is, perhaps, one of the most over-looked destinations on earth when one considers the natural majesty, rich foods, and incredible experiences it provides. While many talk about and dream of a trip to New Zealand (I know I did) the central and southern parts of Argentina rest at the same latitude (if not further south) and are home to the equally impressive Southern Andes.
One of my favorite places in south-central Argentina is the Patagonia region and more specifically the Perito Moreno glacier. Situated in the midst of some of the most exotic barren desert you’ll find anywhere in the world, a 15 minute drive delivers you to incredible waterfalls, stunning glaciers, and mossy green forest. The easiest point of access is by way of El Calafate: a rugged windswept town perched on the side of a large glacially fed lake. Added quirk? The town has seasonal flamingos that add even more rich color to the landscape.
Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album.
Would you like to see previous Weekly Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon G11, I now shoot on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera.
A few weeks ago I took my first shot at learning how to ski in Obergurgl, Austria. It was an awesome adventure. It was also a smudge easier than I expected. Probably in large part due to the awesome private instructor the local tourism board provided for my trip. It made one thing very clear though. Skiing is challenging, but snow boarding? Good luck strapping both of my feet together and getting me on one. Which leaves me that much more impressed by the incredible shows of acrobatics I saw from snowboarders and skiers on the slopes above Innsbruck during a locally organized ski and snowboarding competition. This photo is of one of the competitors and highlights what an incredible day it was. I was captivated watching them jump, spin, turn, and launch themselves through the air. In many ways it reminded me of watching a gymnastics performance….only strapped to long objects and done on snow and in 10 pounds of winter gear. Truly fantastic! Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album.
Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera.
This week’s photo was captured along Turkey’s southern coast, also commonly referred to as the Turkish Riviera. This overlook is located just outside the heart of Antalya near the city’s Archaeology Museum and can be found at the end of the city’s historic tram line. It had been gently raining all day, then towards the end of the afternoon the sun broke through briefly. I lucked out and happened to be near a great little cafe. Eager to soak up the winter sunlight (it was February), I settled in to enjoy a local specialty: freshly squeezed pomegranate mixed with fresh orange juice. As I relaxed and enjoyed the sun and my drink – I noticed the hazy feel which was created by the clouds colliding with the near by mountains and looked up just in time to see this gentleman pausing to enjoy the view. Enjoy!
The bus was clean, modern and comfortable. The view started out fairly unimpressive. That wouldn’t last. As we cut straight across the barren desert we slid past the airport and then traced our way along the subtle ridge line that shadowed the fascinating blue-gray, almost silver, glacial waters that separated us from the Andes. The three or so hour bus ride wound up past Lago Argentino in a large lazy partial U before sliding along the shores of Lago Viedma. Eventually as foothills rose to our right and the lake blocked us in to the left we crested a final rise and were greeted with our first real view of Mt. Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and their siblings.
Contrary to what I’m familiar with, the flat lowlands didn’t give way to low foothills. They just suddenly vanished. The flat land was swallowed by massive stone Cathedrals with majestic snow covered buttresses. Even as the bus rolled along through the flat lands I realized why the few people I had talked to who had made it to El Chalten spoke so highly of it.
As our path began to gently curve away from Lago Viedma I glanced one last time and caught sight of a small stream feeding the glacier, before turning back to the front of the Bus and watching in awe as we approached Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and the tiny climbing town of El Chalten.
Though I didn’t appreciate it at the time I’ve come to realize just how lucky I was. The weather was perfect: Mixed puffy clouds, rich blue skies, gentle wind. All things I’d take for granted back home in Arizona, but in a place like El Chalten? Rare luxuries.
You’ve probably seen photos of Mt. Fitz Roy before. One of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb, it is the mountain that appears in Patagonia clothing’s logo and is a favorite photography destination among big name photographers. Though I wasn’t aware the specifics of where the photos were taken I always assumed that they had been edited due to the vibrant colors and reflective sheen the mountains give off. To my surprise that’s not the case at all. It’s actually the nature of the mountains and rocks. Those photos which seem too good to be real? They’re the real McCoy and the photos reflect their true appearance.
As we crossed the river and entered El Chalten the bus pulled into the National Park station where we were told we would need to temporarily disembark for orientation. Once inside we split into an English group and a Spanish one, were handed a brochure on the park, and a map that outlined major hiking trails, distances and times. They made a point of warning us that the region was prone to turbulent weather, high winds and storms while encouraging us to be careful.
Properly briefed we piled back on the bus and made the 5 minute drive around the corner and into the city’s bus station. The town has wide, empty, streets and squat buildings built for harsh winters and strong winds. The entire town has a newness to it that makes it clear that it’s only there because of hikers and tourists. It has that fledgling feel that suggests it’s still attempting to decide if it is willing to become a year round destination and brave the winters or content to be a tiny town that grows exponentially during the summer.
My hostel ended up being on the far side of town which constituted little more than a 4 minute walk. Once there I paused outside and collected my materials. I wasn’t sure how it would go. The reservation had actually been made by an American and Norwegian who I had met in El Calafate at my previous hostel. The town was all booked up right before Christmas and as a result they’d had to buy one of the few remaining private rooms. That meant they had 3 beds for 2 people and were eager to add a third to help with the cost. We had chatted briefly, then I’d jumped on board. Unfortunately, they were scheduled to arrive later in the evening leaving me to check in on their reservation (if i could) early in the afternoon.
Unfortunately, the girl on the front desk didn’t speak any English and my Spanish is somewhat…spotty. It didn’t help that I wasn’t positive on either of the guy’s last names. Luckily, I was able to pull out my laptop and call up Google Translate to explain the peculiar situation and why my name didn’t match the reservation. That is, we were able to use it intermittently as the wifi signal was beamed up to El Chalten from El Calafate and tended to vanish every few minutes when the wind blew. Despite a few small obstacles it only took a few minutes before I had the key to the room and a basic map of the town. The hostel was less hostel and more B&B but would work out nicely.
Eager to get while the getting was good, and itching to explore/enjoy the beautiful weather I paused at a small restaurant for a quick Argentinian steak (Bife de Chorizo) with Garlic fries then set off down one of the shorter paths. Aware that I only had 2.5 hours I set a brisk pace and tried to remain mindful of my timing.
Before long I had wound up over and between the first few hills. With music cranking away through my ipod I wound through forests of rugged, gnarled trees that stood as a testament to the harsh, windswept winters which mark the region. Initially I was slightly concerned that most of my view was blocked by the small hills between Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and I. Those concerns melted away as I was distracted by butterflies, blooming flowers and the alien beauty of a small river fed by glacial melt which wound down through the small gorge to my left.
Gradually stripping off clothing in the heat I continued to thread my way through forests, small hills and valleys before eventually finding the perfect lookout point. I was immediately both thrilled and baffled by what I saw. A truly unique cloud formation unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Blown by the wind but blocked by the mountain the clouds had formed a near identical, cone shaped, wind swept cloud thousands of feet tall which shadowed one of the main mountains perfectly. As other clouds blew by, formed, and were consumed the cloud retained its shape and position. I’ve seen similar cloud formations in the past, but always as flying saucer like clouds hovering over mountains, never behind them.
As I paused and relaxed, I took note of how perfect visibility was. Crisp, sharp, and clean the air was fresh and invigorating offering a beautiful view of the snow covered mountains, river, and glacier. All the while clouds slowly slithered their way along the mountains before being torn asunder by high altitude winds.
While there are a number of different mountains in the area, the two key ones are Mt. Fitz Roy which is the largest and tallest and the Cerro Torre. The Cerro Torre is the highest of four sister peaks which stand like sharks teeth with the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields to their back. At 2,685 meters and an elevation of over 10,000 ft it is an impressive mountain which wasn’t climbed completely until 40 years ago.
As I checked my watch and decided it was time to head back to town I paused briefly to take in a small waterfall as it joined the near by river. The multi-colored waters in the region are an incredibly fascinating and beautiful thing. One which adds a certain alien ambiance to the region.
Once back in town I met up with the other guys and caught up briefly before snagging a quick nap, food, and then heading out on the town in search of drinks and social adventures. By then the weather had started to change and strong winds had begun to set in. To our surprise the winds were so strong and harsh that they would buffet our bodies – knocking us back a few steps. By the time we reached one of the local restaurants we chuckled and debated if the roof would stay on long enough for us to finish dinner. Luckily it did.
The following morning promised grand adventure. We were heart set on hiking the long 24KM RT path to the base of Mt. Fitz Roy. Little did we know what the following day – Christmas Eve – had in store for us. Stay tuned! More to come soon.
Until then, thank you so much for reading. Please share your thoughts on this post and consider “liking” or “tweeting” it. If this is your first visit to the site please take a few minutes to explore some of my other adventures.
**This post is Part III in my three part series on the Perito Moreno Glacier. Rewind to: Part I or Part II.
One of the most exciting stops along our route was a brief pause at a large waterfall in the middle of the glacier. Easily 8 feet across, the waterfall carved a trough along the surface of the glacier before diving deep into a dark blue hole. As the guide turned and motioned for me to ease towards the lip of the hole, I was thrilled. With him securing my safety harness, I eased up as close as I could to the edge, then leaned out and stared straight down, my eyes hungrily following the water’s course as it splashed of rich blue ice walls and carved away at white crystalline walls. The roar of the falls was mesmerizing and the cool, humid air spilling up and off the waterfall crisp and clean.
As we wound further onto the glacier, we passed a number of large crevasses. Some of which we would skirt, others we would walk along, and yet others – those small enough – we would carefully jump across, all the while with a large lump in our throats and a sense of controlled adventure in our hearts.
Eventually we reached the half-way mark and the group settled in for our pick-nick lunches. The spot we chose? A small hollow which blocked the wind and some of the light rain. As most of the group casually sat on the ice, enjoying the protection of their waterproof paints I dug around in my bag and fished out a bag. It held a massive, bright orange carrot that stood out in an explosion of color against the grays and blues of our equipment, the sky and glacier. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as I saw eyebrows raise, and heads tilt. The thoughts racing through their minds were obvious, “who is this kid, why the hell does he have a giant carrot and how’s he going to manage without waterproof pants – is that really all he brought?”.
As I contentedly finished my carrot, I took the plastic bag it had come in, kicked out a flat space in the ice, set it down, and then plopped my body down on top of it. Next up? Lunch meat. As I sat there with numb fingers, I set to trying to open two plastic packages of lunch meat I’d purchased. Largely unsuccessful, an idea eventually struck. Before long I’d leaned forward and impaled the plastic wrapper on one of my crampon spikes and had set upon the small pile of lunch meat with a voracious hunger.
Ever one to be inclusive, the third and final course was a large bag of baguettes. True, I could have taken the effort to combine the meats and bread, but my approach seemed more fun and convenient. Especially in light of the chuckles I was getting from other group members who had purchased pre-packaged lunches from the local supermarket. I quickly gave away a couple of the 6 or so loaves of bread that had come in the bag, and chewed away contentedly. As we prepared to move on, one of the guides poured a tin of sweetened matte which he passed around and a few of us shared and enjoyed. It was the ideal desert and re-heated us as we prepared for the trek home.
As we wound back along the ice we paused briefly for a rush of excitement as one of the group members failed to step far enough, tripped and almost fell into a crevasse. One of the guides as on hand, stabilized him, and helped him the rest of the way across.
The hike back towards the mountain trail was every bit as good as the trip out to the center of the glacier. Where the view before had been of ice, white, and distant mountains, the view on the return was constantly framed by the imposing presence of the mountains.
Each new view dragged my mind further and further into a fairytale. With fresh air in my lungs, spectacular sights bombarding my eyes, and clean rain drops decorating my face I had one of those incredible moments and relished every ounce of the experience. As the thought echoed through my mind I smiled and whispered, “This…this is why I travel”.
Eventually we found our way back to the base camp where we shed our harnesses and crampons, and then wound back along the path. The end of a hike is usually somewhat boring. Not so in this instance. After the lifeless beauty of the glacier, the wealth of blooming flowers and booming thunder of large waterfalls drew my exhausted feet forward.
The view of the glacier where it gave way to rain slicked rocks was also completely different. Given the honeycombed nature of the glacier, the ice formations looked new, fresh and unique as we revisited them from a different angle.
As we wound back down toward the lake, we enjoyed a great view of the glacier’s forward face and another reminder of how small we truly are. Can you spot the ferry, and people out on the glacier in the above photo? They’re both there!
The trip had been expensive by backpacker oriented day-trip standards but if looked at from a purely value oriented perspective, it had been dirt cheap. My only real regret was that there wasn’t more time.
Eager to keep us together and safe, our guides ushered us along as a fairly constant speed. While this allowed us to see more and was good for the non-photographers among the group, it left me as the constant straggler. Pausing here and there for a quick shot, or a bit of video often set to the background of one of the guides impatiently encouraging me to hurry up and stick closer to the group.
Still, it was only a small annoyance and cost to pay for the opportunity to see, experience, and capture the Perito Moreno Glacier in all of its beauty.
Argentina is about much more than just tango and great steak. If you have the opportunity, definitely add Perito Moreno and the Glaciares National Park to your list of must-see destinations.
**This post is Part III in my three part series on the Perito Moreno Glacier. Rewind to: Part I or Part II.
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