Autumn vista of the golden aspens on the slopes of West Beckwith Mountain, as seen from the summit ridge of Marcellina Mountain...

West Beckwith Aspens

West Elks, Colorado | 2007

Autumn vista of the golden aspens on the slopes of West Beckwith Mountain, as seen from the summit ridge of Marcellina Mountain - October. The Kebler Pass road is barely visible far below in the lower left.

I had quite an adventure after taking this photo. Hiking up Marcellina Mountain requires a long and tricky bushwack through thick and featureless fields of aspens - similar terrain to what you see here. Since this was my second hike up here in a week, I was feeling confident that I could find my way back down in the dark, so I waited for sunset to photograph these vast fields of golden aspens in the late day light.

However, once the sun set, it got really really dark since there was no moon at all. With only my headlamp to light up a short distance, I had a very hard time recognizing the features of the route, and I ended up spending half the night crashing around through the aspens with only my compass to guide me. I ended up hiking two miles too far by the time I hit Kebler Pass Road, and then had to walk another extra two miles back up the road to get to my truck.

Being relatively lost and barging through the aspens and bushes in the pitch dark was somewhat of a nightmare scenario, but I was able to maintain a calm and collected attitude, which I think really helped me out of this jam.

Despite the difficulties of hiking Marcellina, the view from the summit is stunning since it towers above some of the planet's largest aspen groves. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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