Photojournalism Near & Far

Jeeping Around Guanella Pass

During the summer of 2016, I set off for a long weekend in the Mile High City. This marked my second trip to Denver in as many years and I was looking to make it a successful return. My Thursday and Friday consisted of urban exploration, dabbling in local cuisine, and catching up with old college friends. The weekend was spent hiking in Mt. Evans Wilderness and camping on the southern slope of Guanella Pass, a 11,670ft pass traversing Colorado’s Rocky Mountain range. Little to my knowledge, a friend of mine recently purchased a Jeep Wrangler and happily brought it our on our weekend escapade. Our cohort enjoyed a beautiful Sunday morning climbing mountainsides, crossing rivers, and getting a little dirt on the tires.

The main road traversing Geneva Park Campground could hardly be described as “groomed”. Although we witnessed a Toyota Corolla’s press its luck, the terrain was no match for the Jeep.

We woke up Sunday morning to blues skies and sunshine. Knowing that I needed to catch a flight back to Seattle later than evening, my friends asked me how long we could drive for. I responded “until it’s not fun anymore”. As it turns out, that’s quite a long time.

Photographing required high shutter speeds as it was nearly impossible to hold my camera still for any period of time. I didn’t realize the back row only possessed two seat belts until much later.

This is what happens when you drive through a shallow creeks at 25mph. Needless to say, my camera got a little wet after this shot. There was no avoiding the splash zone.

It’s much easier to take a photograph when you stop the vehicle. In total, we climbed a couple thousand feet along beautiful views of neighboring mountains, luscious valleys, and young forests.

We made it as far as we could before hitting a few feet of leftover snow. Despite having to turn back, the views from up here were incredible. Yes, the Pacific Northwest has the Cascades, but these mountains were truly stunning. The greens and tans on nearby peaks give way to vibrant streaks of red rock and the winters last remaining snow packs.

I imagine this photo being in a Jeep Wrangler commercial. In all actuality, I suppose this is where they film all those advertisements. From here, we began our descent back down the mountain.

Oh hey, I got to take it our for a spin! Driving provided both elements of reality and the virtual nature of an off-road video game. Unlike cruising in my Honda Accord, I quickly drove towards large potholes and uncertain pools of standing water.

After a few hours of trail climbing and mud splashing, the Jeep felt comfortable in its own skin. And what a fun way to spend the afternoon!

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