Pecos Wilderness Sturm und Drang

A monsoon storm blows toward the Truchas Peaks in new Mexico's Pecos Wilderness, August 2010.

Well, I guess you could say I missed the meteor shower Thursday night! I was too busy hunkering down in my tent after fleeing off the top of East Pecos Baldy. New Mexico is prized for its lurid sunsets, but this was one of the most unnerving evenings I’ve seen, a wave of darkness incoming with bloody light behind. I had backpacked in to Pecos Baldy Lake, set up camp, and headed up to the peak for sunset. When I got to the summit, I pretty much despaired of photography for the evening: ugly clouds moving in, with a thick wall to the west that no light was going to break through.

But something one must always keep in mind in landscape photography: the sunset’s not over till it’s over. I retreated down to timberline, more or less (about 12,200 hereabouts; Northern Rockies folks have it so easy!), and ate my supper, waited out a rain squall, then headed back to the crest to see what might be doing. I’m glad I did! I whipped out the tripod and snapped photos for five minutes while praying for friendly electromagnetic properties.

The shot above is looking north to the Truchas Peaks; below is the view southwest to West Pecos Baldy and the Espanola Valley. After a few shots I ran for it, inadvertently bumping a very large elk herd off the saddle above the lake in the near darkness. As I scurried into my tent, the clouds descended and the rain unleashed.

A monsoon sunset from East Pecos Baldy in New Mexico's Pecos Wilderness, August 2010.

6 thoughts on “Pecos Wilderness Sturm und Drang

    • John, yes and no. Being in the right place in the right time with dramatic conditions is hardly to be taken for granted. But on the other hand, if you spend a lot of time in the wilderness, you will see amazing things. I’ve seen quite a few once-in-a-lifetime kind of sunsets, though every one is different. This one certainly had a unique character!

      Also (just musing here), maybe if I’d been somewhere else that evening, further south or west, I would have had an amazing sky filled with red and orange. So maybe I missed a once-in-a-lifetime shot by being stuck up in the gloom on Pecos Baldy.

      A wonderful thing about looking at lots of landscape photography is seeing that creation is not at all stingy with marvels and wonders. Every time you go out has the potential to result in amazing shots; but if you blow it, the potential tomorrow is no less. It’s a truth that makes me very happy!

  1. I want to follow your blog so bad. I’m a fellow photographer and need tips. But I can’t seem to find anywhere to follow your blog. Any ideas?

    • John, the RSS feed seems to be working: (It’s linked in the sidebar, under “Meta”) That’s what I use for the blogs I follow regularly. I’m not familiar with how feeds work in some browsers, though (I usually use Firefox), so maybe that could be an issue?

      As for tips, I’ll try and post things as I think of them. What kind of photography do you do? You’re also welcome to e-mail me (frishmanphoto at gmail) any questions you have, and I can work up a post, assuming I know the answers. Bret Edge also does this, with a team of experts, and I found his feature very helpful in the past:

      Finally, I really recommend checking out other photographers’ blogs (need to add some more to the sidebar here) and lurking on the galleries and forums at I’ve learned a huge amount from there; the wealth of free learning on the net is amazing! And there’s nothing like sitting in as a bunch of really good photographers critique each others’ work.

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