Conundrum Creek Hot Springs hike

This is a beautiful trail with green meadows and majestic snow-capped mountains. The plan was to hike up and spend 3 days at the hot springs. Our goal for the day was to camp about 1 mile below the springs for the first night. For a very popular trail, the parking lot was only half full and we only saw about 5 other people and they were coming down.

At mile 6 we had to ford the creek which was running very high and fast from snowmelt and recent rains. While the sun was starting to set, we still had time to get to our camp spot before dark. We had a hard time deciding where to cross the creek. We finally settled on a spot that looked the best. We switched to water shoes and rolled up our pants legs. Once we got in the icy water we saw that it was deeper and faster than we anticipated- almost up to our waist. It was a struggle to stand against the current but we got to the bank wet and without anyone falling in.

When we got to our camp spot about a quarter mile later, Trevor discovered the tent poles had fallen from my pack. While he went back to see if they were in the creek, Sarah and I gathered wood to build a fire. The rain soon started so we switched to trying to jerry-rig the tent to get some shelter ready.

We hadn’t been at it long when Trevor came back saying he couldn’t find the poles. Thinking the poles must be on the other side of the creek we decided to go back across, find the poles, and camp. With the rain falling, temperature dropping and near dark we knew we didn’t have much time.

To keep our clothes as dry as possible, we took off our pants and put on water shoes. As Trevor and Sarah stepped in they sank to their chests. The water started pushing Trevor away from the bank so we scrambled out. With the creek rising, we set up camp and got a small fire going to dry out.
The rain stopped for a bit and we ate dinner and stood around the fire drying out our clothes. However, the rain started up again after a couple hours. Knowing the creek would continue to rise we started immediately planning for an early morning exit.

We crawled into our sleeping bags and covered ourselves with the rain fly from the tent. This became wet on the inside from condensation and water leakage. Three people on 2 sleeping pads, a cold rain and covered with a wet rain-fly… worried about the morning creek crossing. Perfect conditions for a sleepless night.

Trevor got up when a splash of water from the rain-fly hit his face. He spent a good amount of time looking for the best crossing while Sarah and I got our gear together. Pack tightened and pants off again (I’ve never been sans-pants camping this much before) we started crossing the still raging, still ice cold stream. First Trevor, then Sarah, then me.

The water was waist deep and moving so fast it was hard to plant a hiking stick up-stream. I was determined to keep stable and keep moving. Bit by bit I inched across.

On the bank I once again realized how cold I was and dried off and got warm. Fastest I’ve ever gotten dressed. We got back on the trail and quickly found the poles where they’d fallen off my pack. Since a) our sleeping bags were wet, b) it was still raining, and c) we’d never be able to build a fire to dry out- we decided to head back down the mountain.

I’m sure we’ll be back.

Bear Story


We were driving thru Rocky Mtn National Park and I saw a couple cars pulled off to the side. I pulled over to look. I didn’t see any wildlife but the little meadow looked intriguing so I walked down and started taking pics of the meadow and winding stream. Getting down by the stream, shooting the water and grass.

Coming back up to the road, a car pulled over and a lady said “did you see her?” Wade and I both said “see who?” “The mama bear that’s down in the meadow.”

After we recovered we drove around to the other side of the meadow and I got the above pic. Not the best in the failing light. And I wasn’t getting close again.

(Rocky Mountain National Park, 5/15/15)

Locked and loaded

Every year I get a chance to take a long weekend in Estes Park. It involves lots of photography and hiking. Mostly photography. Ok there’s beer at the end of the day but mostly photography. Mostly.


I took this about 5 years ago. I’d been to South Africa several times and had never seen a rhino. I was at a game park. I saw this guy. I was so excited I  jumped out of the car with my camera and started shooting. Then a game keeper came running over and told me to get back in the car.

(Kragga Kamma, South Africa, circa 2010)