The Story of the Twisted Pine


This photo, which I've called Twisted Pine, is one of the featured images in the upcoming National Photography Show at the Louisville Art Association Gallery in Louisville, CO. The show will be on display from May 26 - June 4, with an opening reception on the evening of the 26th at 6 PM. In this post, I'll share the story of the winter hiking adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park on which I captured this image.


One of my favorite winter hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park begins at Bear Lake and heads up through the Tyndall Gorge to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. I'm always looking for opportunities to get out right after a fresh snowfall as well. This year, on the last weekend of January, there was actually a window of opportunity between two big blizzards to head up to the park and go on a winter adventure. Even though the weather forecast looked a little harsh, it turned out to be a great experience.


The one downside of doing this hike in the winter is that the winds often howl down through the gorge and create some nasty wind chills, especially when you come out of the forests near the lakes. This was one of those rare days where that didn't happen, making it an even more special experience. While the clouds were low and it was snowing most of the time we were hiking, it was actually rather pleasant for a January afternoon. Keep in mind that myself and my friends who joined me were properly dressed for the winter conditions, and since I knew we would likely be hiking into deep powder we wore our snowshoes instead of just the microspikes I would normally hike this with in the winter. That turned out to be a good decision.



This hike is one of the most well known in Rocky Mountain National Park, famous for its grand scenic views throughout. If you've seen a photo from Rocky Mountain National Park of a mountain lake with a striking, almost vertical mountain peak rising up in the background, it was likely taken at Dream Lake. This was not the day for those grand scenics however. As you can see in the photo above, low clouds and falling snow blotted out the views of the mountains. This would be a day for smaller, more intimate scenes of snow covered trees and whatever wildlife we might be able to see.



I stopped often to capture scenes of the snow laden trees, and as we passed the gnarly pine tree in the featured photo at the top I crouched down in the snow to make it look as dramatic as possible against the faint mountain backdrop. I love a good gnarly tree dressed in its winter best! Over the last few years I've found that a lot of my winter scenics look their best when converted to black & white photos, and most of the ones I captured on this day got the same treatment. I hope you like monochrome.



The journey from the Bear Lake trailhead all the way to Emerald Lake and back is a little over 3 miles. Even on a moody day like this there were so many beautiful scenes to see and capture. There's something so peaceful about the experience of being out in the mountains when the snow is softly falling and all the deep powder just absorbs all the background noise and leaves behind an incredible stillness.


If you'd like to share in that experience, make sure and watch my YouTube video of the experience as well, embedded at bottom of this post. And while you're there go ahead and hit that subscribe button so you don't miss out on any of my videos coming up! If you enjoy sharing in the experiences of adventures like these, I hope you'll sign up for my email newsletter if you haven't already. You can subscribe right here on this blog post, or click my newsletter signup link in the footer. New subscribers get a new customer discount coupon as a thank you for signing up. Don't forget to follow me on Facebook & Instagram too. Thanks for checking out what I do, and I hope you'll keep following along!