Independence Pass, Colorado

Photos and Text By Lindsay McClure

After taking a year sabbatical, Colorado is still my most favorite place, providing distracting beauty and endless exploration. It is very fitting that I moved back in October when fall was in its full glory. Aspens were changing colors, making the mountains appear to be on fire. We had our first significant snow and I immediately thought of taking ‘the pass,’ or Independence Pass, a scenic highway charming travellers to “The Top of the Rockies” on the Continental Divide. This road is seasonal; it closes for the winter as conditions become treacherous for vehicles because of the elevation and terrain. With the timing of the Aspens and snow, I knew I had a limited time to catch some shots of the end of fall and beginning of winter, giving a different perspective to that of its popular summer landscape. The shots were there and I was elated to have captured, or at least tried, to catch these magical moments.

Independence Pass takes adventurers from Aspen to Twin Lakes, on a 32-mile stretch connecting both Pitkin and Lake Counties. My Siberian Husky Mix, Nanuk and I were able to travel from the grasslands up to the alpine, stopping along this photo safari to hike and explore–our usual thing. Because it is a decent sized road trip, we were lucky enough to have our friends John Wayne and his malamute, Bode Miller tag along.

We passed through Independence, an old mining town the pass is named after that has since been abandoned. There are lots of hollowed, exposed wood buildings that line the highway. They looked amazing in the fresh, sleek snow. We hiked around this area for a little, allowing Nanuk to reconnect with his preferred ground cover. What a happy boy he was.

It was when we passed the Grotto, a popular climbing destination, that I took one of the most significant photographs of my life. See if you can eye “The Man on the Face.” I like to think he is protecting travellers, greeting them on their journeys over this Colorado landmark. I hope he becomes a landmark of his own one-day.

The top of the highway is marked with a rest stop, scenic outlook, and sign that signify the top of the pass and Continental Divide, at 12,095 feet. Some keywords that come to mind when reflecting on this stop is cold, chilly, icy and windy. It was about 15 degrees with wind-chill there in the Alpine. Again, cold, chilly, icy and windy. It was a quick stop.

The views continued on our way down, ending with Twin Peaks in Twin Lakes. What a picturesque view to end our adventure.

In a short two-hour drive, Colorado granted us with so many breathtaking views, proving it’s reputation as such a unique and remarkable land.

Photos (C) 2014 Lindsay McClure

Lindsay is a twenty-five year old photojournalist who is crafting a reality full of travel, photography and writing. Lindsay and her Siberian Husky Mix, Nanuk are known as The Compass Wolf. In their life of wanderlust and exploration, they seek new experiences and knowledge. They are based wherever the next adventure lies and currently maintain home base in Colorado.

Follow Lindsay’s adventures on her Instagram and new blog, The Compass Wolf. You can also check out her photography portfolio.