Rocky Mountain National Park Engagement | Estes Park Photographer | The Loch Engagement | Sky Pond Engagement | Colorado Mountain Engagement Photographer
People who know me well know I love my sleep. Ok ok, maybe more accurately that I NEED my sleep… to function anyway. Preferably 8-9 hours straight. And then God gave me twins and sleep became that much more treasured. All this to say, there’s not much that will drag me out of bed at 3am. It’s pretty much a screaming toddler or me (begrudgingly until I’ve had coffee) awakening for a pre-sunrise start for a hike. The latter is exactly what got me out of bed for Ryan & Salina’s Rocky Mountain National Park engagement session.
Still pitch black out, we arrived at the Alberta Falls (Glacier Gorge) trailhead knowing those falls were an early blip on the way to our actual destination – Sky Pond. As someone who has summited a number of Colorado’s 13er & 14er mountains, it never ceases to amaze me at how many cars are at some of these trailheads at the crack of dawn. Sunrise wouldn’t be coming for another 1.5 hrs, yet the lot was jumping. The crisp mountain wind had us moving quickly. We knew we wanted to be at The Loch before sunrise because if there was going to be alpenglow, we were going to catch it!
Prior to, I read multiple trail descriptions of the Sky Pond hike. The internet consensus is that the trail is anywhere from 8.5-12 miles long and is moderate to extremely difficult. Haha. Super helpful. While I did not underestimate such a hike, at least the 1700 ft elevation gain was at least spread out over many miles.
This brings me to Ryan & Salina. I’ve never met a couple so down for a massive hike for engagement photos. They said, “Hey, we’d probably be hiking today anyway!” I mean after all they got engaged in Glacier National Park, so this was perfect for their story.
So on I strapped my 22lb daypack with mostly photography gear. Likewise, Ryan & Salina strapped on their packs stuffed with apparel including two pairs of heels, a dress, dress shoes, and a sports coat dangling off the back. Approximately 3 miles in, we could feel the sun just below the horizon. Thankfully we arrived at the Loch with just minutes before the alpenglow hit the mountain.
Speaking of, all peeps not wanting to geek out on science skip to the photos. Haha. But let’s chat about alpenglow for a minute. Alpenglow is that brief, yet daily phenomenon of a narrow band of reddish pink light in the sky or across the top of mountains opposite the rising or setting sun. It’s pretty cool if you’ve never seen it. “But why?” the inquiring mind wonders. Well, I’ll tell you! You know how light refracts through a prism to create a rainbow? Think Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon cover. Light appears white, but it’s actually comprised of all the colors. The entire rainbow. Combined that effect with the Rayleigh Scattering principle where light is scattered refracting some colors and causing others to be absorbed, and BAM, you have reddish light.
Pretty cool huh? Now for my disclaimer, this is my total layman’s understanding of alpenglow. This being the internet, I fully expect to be schooled by a physics major some day. Welcome friend!
From The Loch, we followed the creek through a considerably dark forest until the terrain steepened. The Loch Vail Trail offers so many different beautiful views I could totally see why people would travel & hike here for Rocky Mountain National Park Engagement photos. As we went up & up I knew we were approaching the infamous Timberline Falls. With it’s 100 ft vertical scramble up the waterfall. Eek! We took our time at Timberline photographing & enjoying the waterfall and then began the ascent. Don’t want to slip with all my gear on my back!
At last we reached the top where Glass Lake lays -apparently the lake is a great fishing spot for trout! The trail became difficult to discern at times as we were now mostly traveling on rock, but we finally made it to the destination of Sky Pond. This spot seemed so fitting for Ryan & Salina who spend much of their time hiking together. We concluded our session underneath the gorgeously sliced Glacier Gorge rock spires and pristine alpine lake waters of Sky Pond. Completely worth the 9ish miles.
Congrats Salina & Ryan!
Feeling inspired? Book your Rocky Mountain National Park Engagement session by giving me a holler!