Five days before the summer solstice, my friend and fellow photographer, Mary, and I trekked into Brained Lake National Recreation Area. We had the idea to stage a summery photoshoot at sunset along the lake's edge. The park had opened its seasonal gates the day before, closed and locked for 7 months through the snowy season, but we still were not able to access the closest parking area. This gave us the opportunity to add 2 additional miles to our approach hike. What luck this turned out to be.
It wasn't my first time at Brainard Lake, but I certainly underestimated the early summer conditions.
What I expected to be an easy short hike with gorgeous views, a fantastic sunset, and a cute summery photoshoot at an alpine lake turned out to be a long soggy trek in and out of mud, and knee-deep snow, a freezing cold lake in the dwindling daylight, a hike out in the dark on a snow-buried trail, and a lightning storm.
Mary's cute sandals be damned! We were having an adventure!
We discovered an opportunity for both of us to feel outside our relative comfort zones … Mary in the deep cold wilderness while wearing sandals .. and me trying to capture her raw emotion in the rapidly evaporating daylight while she stood in the newly-thawed alpine lake, cradled in the valley of the Indian Peaks Wilderness at 10,5000 ft (3200 m).
I wake up for this every day: throwing myself into nature and accepting what she puts in front of me.
Thanks for teetering in the unknown with me, Mary, it is the most gorgeous feeling.