Sapphire Point overlooking Lake Dillon, Colorado, faces two different mountain ranges – to the West, the Ten Mile, and to the Northwest, the Gore. Interstate 70 passes in the canyon between them, on the way to Copper Mountain Ski Resort. In the featured photo, Buffalo Peak in the Gore Range is the background. On this rounded peak, is evidence of 2 massive avalanche chutes created in 1991, altering the Winter appearance of the mountain. Every year, backcountry skiers climb Buffalo Peak to ski areas around the chutes, risking their lives for the thrill of a run with a 3,000′ elevation drop. The lake below Buffalo Peak is the largest reservoir for the city of Denver. Here, in the photo, the lake has not yet frozen over in early November. I took the photo at that time to contrast the white of the scene with the dark blue of the water; when the lake freezes over, the scene is all white and falls flat with little contrast. Since I took that picture, Pine Beetles have attacked most of the Lodgepole Pine trees in that picture – now the scene is denuded of trees and the trees left standing and not yet cut down in clear-cuts, are brown and grey. The Pine Beetle epidemic started in 2000 and ended in 2010, devastating the forests of Summit County, Colorado. The mountain scenery remains with deep scars on the hills and mountainsides; more clear-cuts are planned to reduce the fire risk of dry dead trees, creating more unsightly scars. The forests of Summit County will grow back in 70 to 100 years, probably in a different shape than before. As a photographer for over 30 years taking pictures in Summit County, especially at Sapphire Point, it has been heartbreaking to see the loss of all these beautiful trees; I can never take pictures like the one featured again. It is historical.
- Ancient Tree on