Backpacking Season

June 24, 2022  •  2 Comments


Backpacking Season

Fall Color -- Ice Lakes Basin Fall Colors in Ice Lake Basin


Q:    What does a wildlife photographer do when they are not taking pictures of animals?

A:    Play outside of course!!


Summer time is finally here and backpacking season has officially begun for the high country. This is the time of year where I like to spend most of my time in the alpine, where the mountains rise high above jewel like lakes and wildflowers bloom in a rainbow of colors. Many trips are just day hikes getting my legs and lungs ready for the vertical climbs, but my favorite times are when I go backpacking with friends. 

While the largest and heaviest pieces get left behind, I still carry a camera body, a few smaller lenses and a lightweight tripod.  Most of the landscape images you see on my website come from my backpacking excursions. My favorite subjects include alpine lakes and towering peaks.  I generally use a wide angle lens (Nikon 18-55mm) with a polarizer to capture these expansive landscapes.


Pictured below from left to right and top to bottom:

  • Huron Peak (14,003 feet), Collegiate Peak Wilderness --Colorado
  • Ice Lake, San Juan Mountains --Colorado
  • Island Lakes, Flat Top Wilderness --Colorado
  • Lonesome Lake, Holy Cross Wilderness --Colorado  


Mount Huron, Colorado Ice Lake, Colorado

Flat Top Wilderness Area, Colorado

Lonesome Lake, Colorado



Of course I am always looking for the opportunity to capture images of wildlife, which seems to be abundant when I am in the high country.   When I am backpacking I use a small lightweight telephoto lens (Nikon 55 -300mm). If you are quiet and observant, you can see all kinds of critters from mountain goats to butterflies. Here is just a sampling of what can be found.  


Pictured below from left to right and top to bottom:

  • Pika, San Isabell National Forest --Colorado
  • Rocky Mountain Parnassian, Collegiate Peak Wilderness  --Colorado
  • Marmot, San Juan Mountains --Colorado
  • Mountain Goats, Breckenridge --Colorado



Pika - Tennessee Lakes Rocky Mountain Parnassian -- Lake Ann, Colorado

Yellow-bellied Marmot - San Juan Mountains Pine Squirrel, San Juan Mountiains



My most memorable capture was this adorable white-tailed ptarmigan chick (below). I have heard and spotted many ptarmigan over the years but this was the youngest baby I have ever seen, only days old given the size.  


Baby White-tailed Ptarmigan, San Isabell National Forest

Baby White-tailed Ptarmigan, San Isabell National Forest --Colorado


Backpacking is a great avenue for exploring remote areas where I can be surrounded (360 degrees) by nature. The quiet and solitude can be daunting to some, but for me it is peaceful.  No phones, no emails and no city sounds or lights which is perfect for sunrise, sunset and night time photography (Nikon 50mm, f1.4 & a tripod).


Pictured below from left to right and top to bottom:

  • Comet Neowise at Lake Ann, Collegiate Peak Wilderness--Colorado
  • Sunset at Gore Lake, Eagle Nest Wilderness  --Colorado 
  • Sunrise at Lake Ann, Collegiate Peak Wilderness--Colorado
  • Milky Way at Lake Ann, Collegiate Peak Wilderness --Colorado


Comet Neowise, Collegiate Peak Wilderness  

Sunrise, Collegiate Peak Wilderness Milky Way, Collegiate Peak Wilderness


To me the very best part of backpacking is spending time with my friends.  I am so lucky to have several adventurous friends who love hiking and the outdoors as much as I do. We compliment each other well in our skills and knowledge, which makes each trip fun and memorable.  We have been rained on, snowed on, and covered with bug bites, but the memories still make me smile. Thank you for all the adventures Jennifer, Lisa, Liz and Robin. 



Stay tuned for other alpine country adventure stories featuring family and friends who have made an impact in my life. 


Until next month,


Lea Frye 


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                 Wild Animals / Wild Landscapes



Lea.F Images
Thank you Cindy. So happy you are enjoying the blog and the pictures.

Cindy Yohe(non-registered)
Hi Lea,
I am a friend of our parents from York PA. I have enjoyed your newsletter and the photos are gorgeous.
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