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Crested Butte excursions

I don't want to make it sound as if all we did was step over cow-pies while we were at Crested Butte. We took a number of day trips in Jan & James's Jeeps up steep, rocky mountain roads. The first was to Paradise Divide, where there's a beautiful mountain lake at nearly 12,000 feet altitude. Even under stormy skies, it was magnificent.

Paradise Divide lake

I got a good photo of Jan while we were up there...

Jan at Paradise Divide

...and a closeup of one of the abundant Rosy Paintbrush flowers. (In fact, Crested Butte was in the middle of its annual Wildflower Festival when we arrived in early July.) James explained that these flowers are interesting because what look like flowers are actually the brightly colored sepals (leaves surrounding the flowers), while the flowers themselves are inconspicuous small green spikes.

Rosy Paintbrush

On another day trip, this one to Gothic, I was able to photograph this female mule deer, shooting through the open car window.

Muke deer

She posed obligingly for several minutes, until some yahoos in a pickup roared past and scared her away.

I have to admit something here: I'm a wimp when it comes to "four-wheeling." The first time I tried it, back in 2000, I nearly got carsick after only a short ride. This time I managed to keep from getting queasy, but I really didn't enjoy that ride up to Gothic. Being jolted and jerked around as we climbed over rocks and ruts was pretty unpleasant for me, even though I knew it was necessary to get to the scenic, out-of-the-way places Jan & James know about.

I had almost made up my mind to decline future invitations, but I knew that would greatly limit my ability to participate in this summer's outings. So when Jan invited me to go with her to photograph some waterfalls, I decided to give it one more try. I'm glad I did. This time, the ride wasn't so bad—and more important, the destination was worth the journey.

Irwin Falls vertical pano

Jan set up her camera and tripod and waited patiently for the sky to cloud over. She's learned that waterfalls are best photographed in partly subdued light.

Jan at Irwin Falls

I tried a few shots both ways and quickly came to agree with her: hazy skies and a slow shutter speed made for much more attractive pictures.

Irwin Falls

I was glad I'd taken a step toward overcoming my aversion to four-wheeling. Back at the Crested Butte campground, I processed my photos, pausing to enjoy another glorious sunset from my rear window.

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