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determination

Wildflowers found along the trail

Wildflowers found along the trail

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you weren't sure if you could keep going? I'm talking about that moment during a hike where your whole body is screaming at you that you cant move one step further and your mind is telling you that you are weak for doubting yourself. I'm sure you have, as I know I have many times in my life. 

My next question is, do you listen to it?

Myself hiking up the first stretch of the trail. Image by Makenzie Bush

Myself hiking up the first stretch of the trail.

Image by Makenzie Bush

If you're anything like me, you don't. You push through and remind yourself that each step you take brings you closer to your goal. You tell your mind to take a backseat while you let your determination push you further.

This was exactly what happened on August 26, 2017 on La Plata Peak near Buena Vista, Colorado.

I was hiking with three friends I had made on a previous hike up Quandary Peak last year. We were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for our next adventure together. We started up the road to the trail head just a little after six in the morning, we were ready... Or so we thought.

Each of us had researched the route, however, it quickly became obvious as we bypassed the trail head by a mile or so that we hadn't researched it enough. By the time we realized, pulled out our GPS, and made our return trip back to the trail head, it was around eight in the morning, two hours later than we planned on starting and a few miles under our belts already. We stayed positive though and began our trek up the luscious path through the forest.

We were all amazed by the beauty of the creek along the way and the eye-popping views from La Plata Gulch where we stopped to eat and take photos of each other. It wouldn't be for another 1000 feet up before we realized what we had gotten ourselves into. None of use are what you would call "experienced hikers", however we did respect the mountain and knew that it would be unforgiving, yet we were determined to reach the top. 

The view up La Plata Gulch from the Northwest side of La Plata Peak.

The view up La Plata Gulch from the Northwest side of La Plata Peak.

As we continued our accent, we noticed the mountain getting steeper and steeper. More so than we felt we had seen on any other mountain including the other Class 2 I had summited last year. Still, we trudged on seeing people at the top and willing ourselves to get there too. Eventually we reached a point in the hike where the trail seemingly disappeared. I searched and searched for cairns but only saw some much higher up on the mountain, so we went for it. Slowly finding our footing up the mountain keeping the lone cairn in our sights. My knees and hips yelled at me to stop, but I was determined. This impromptu bouldering continued for quite some time until we finally reached a point where the cairns were standing tall and clearly showed the route. Boy were we thankful, however, there was another bothersome event happening that we couldn't see.

One of my climbing partners was experiencing the first signs of altitude sickness. Our party had somewhat involuntarily split into groups of two, Justin and I were pushing ahead finding the trail determined to get to the summit. Kenzie and Mike were a short distance behind us. Mike had just flown in from New York the day before and was taking it easy. Though he was accustomed to hiking the Adirondack 46ers, the altitude was affecting him, but sweet Kenzie was hit the hardest. I passed Mike some electrolyte gummies and a can of oxygen, and continued up. I was worried about Kenzie, however, she and Mike encouraged us to keep going and that they would stick together, so that's what we did. Deep inside, I also knew that If I sat and waited for too much longer, I wouldn't be able to find the strength to continue to the summit.

The view from the northwest ridge towards Colorado Highway 82, known as Independence Pass.

The view from the northwest ridge towards Colorado Highway 82, known as Independence Pass.

When I finally wound my way up to the summit, I found Justin taking a nap and took that time to enjoy the outstanding views in peace being as we were the only two people at the summit. I was then reminded why I push forward each time even though my body tells me I can't, I prove it otherwise. Eventually Mike joined us at the summit and I was concerned because Kenzie wasn't with him. Come to find out, Kenzie's altitude sickness had become quite serious and before continuing up or down, she wanted to sit and do what she could to help her dizziness subside, yet she didn't want Mike to miss out on his 14er summit so she encouraged him to keep going. We spoke about making our summit visit quick because we wanted to get back to Kenzie, when we turned around to gather our belongings and begin our decent, we witnessed Kenzie coming across the last little bit to the summit. In that moment I was astonished, here was a girl who quite literally should be debilitated, and here she is coming towards us. When she reached us, she explained that she was able to push the sickness aside after eating, drinking more water, and using oxygen. Once she began to feel better, she knew she had to summit. So, we took our photos, laughed, and ate before heading back down the mountain.

A stunning creek that flows down through La Plata Gulch.

A stunning creek that flows down through La Plata Gulch.

We hadn't made it to the top of the mountain until the early afternoon, we were lucky and watched the clouds the entire time, however, it would be dark soon and we still had hours before we were off the mountain. On the way down, everyone was feeling the pain, however, Kenzie and I were struggling at every step. The four of us helped each other down the mountain, over rocks, and across bridges made of fallen trees, the sun slowly disappearing behind a nearby peak. When we finally reached the road, we yelled in excitement, it was almost 8:30pm and we had finally made it.

I learned many lessons from this trip, some of them I can't even put into words. However, I am grateful. I am blessed to have made it to my 5th summit on my 4th mountain and to have done it with such strong, fantastic individuals. I am thankful that no one was sevearly injured and that Kenzie's altitude sickness subsided. One of the many lessons I learned is that no matter how much you have researched a mountain, you should research it more because you may have missed something. Also, even though it is good to push your limits make sure to listen closely to your body. Sometimes it's okay to ignore it and push on, but other times you need to listen to it. The mountain isn't going anywhere, you can always go back to it.

Myself, Justin, Makenzie, and Mike at the summit of La Plata Peak.

Myself, Justin, Makenzie, and Mike at the summit of La Plata Peak.

three

The sunrise at 12,500 ft on Quandary Peak during the 14ers.com annual Winter Welcomer.

The sunrise at 12,500 ft on Quandary Peak during the 14ers.com annual Winter Welcomer.

Have you ever picked up on a pattern and wondered if it meant anything?

During the summer and fall I seemed to run into the number three quite often. It took me until my third time trying to summit a fourteener for me to finally get it on Gray' Peak this summer. Then the third time I tried to hike Quandary Peak, I finally made it to the top. Then again on November 5th, I made it to the top of Quandary Peak after two other attempts to do this peak in the winter conditions. This one was more intense, with immense pain, I refused to retreat. I was making it whether I was meant to or not. After reaching the snowy summit, I quickly retreated for the warmth of my Jeep. Later that week it was discovered that at some point during the hike, I dislocated a rib, causing the excruciating pain. Though it was true again, the third time was the charm.

This phenomenon hasn't only happened with fourteeners however.

A local mountain called Lookout Mountain has a 5.4 mile trail that gains 1,896 ft in elevation. resulting in a gorgeous view of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This trail took me three attempts to complete as well. The first was a test run, both my friends, Josh and Jenn had plans so this was more about getting a feel for it. The second attempt was cut short due to lack of both natural light and manmade lights, such as flashlights. But the third time I finally made it through the tall grasses and crumbling red rock to the top.

So what is it with the number three?

One thing for sure is that it has taught me to be patient and persistence. I have discovered that it isn't always the destination that holds the most importance but instead, the journey and the fight to make it. I learned that it is important to take in the sights and smells, to enjoy it.

Myself at about 13,500 ft during my decent after finally summiting Quandary Peak in winter conditions.

Myself at about 13,500 ft during my decent after finally summiting Quandary Peak in winter conditions.

If you are determined enough  and not willing to give power to the idea of quitting, you can make anything happen. This can and will help me throughout my life whether it be in my adventures, my career in photography, work in general, and more. This isn't just a lesson on climbing mountains in Colorado, but climbing those theoretical mountains as well. I hope that I continue to know this lesson and to never let obstacles defer me from what I am meant to accomplish. May the struggle never outweigh the accomplishments. As I continue to climb mountains I will have a continuous reminder that I am meant for great things. That I was given the willpower to complete these seemingly impossible tasks.

My hope is that you do the same. Never let the mountains become the reason you give up, but instead be the motivation you need to continue climbing and striving for greatness. Reach the top, yet enjoy the trip there. Remember, its those struggles, those journeys that make you the person you are. Not the end result.

Looking out over the town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado from the top of Lookout Mountain.

Looking out over the town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado from the top of Lookout Mountain.

persistance

A hiker looks at her phone during a break on her hike up Quandary Peak.

A hiker looks at her phone during a break on her hike up Quandary Peak.

As we grow up we hear a lot of "never give up" and "follow your dreams". However, those are just words that so many don't follow themselves. I am one of those people who believe in persistence. I believe that if you really want something, you will never stop working towards it.

View of Blue Lakes between the ridge and Quandary Peak.

View of Blue Lakes between the ridge and Quandary Peak.

Last week I told you a little about 14ers and my journey to the summit. There was a brilliant feeling of finally making it to the top of a mountain after two failed attempts. The persistence and drive that it took to make it up the mountain was more than I thought I had in me. Yet, I mustered the energy from somewhere inside me and kept on climbing.

On Saturday, September 3, 2016 I returned to my first goliath, my first mountain, my first and second failed attempt. Quandary Peak has always been a mountain that I felt like I could never summit. It's not necessarily that it is a hard mountain to hike, but after two failed attempts you begin to question yourself. This time the weather was more favorable and I had a fire burning inside me that was ready to be used to push my way to the top.

I had no idea what lied ahead of me...

My pace was much faster than ever before, but I still had to stop for breaks more often than most. My hiking partners, Josh and Kristen, were both in much better shape than I and could have left me in the dust if they wanted to. However, being the great boyfriend and friend that they are, they stayed by my side, encouraging me the whole way.

The hike back down the trail was warm and beautiful.

The hike back down the trail was warm and beautiful.

Each step took me closer and closer to my goal. They also took me down memory lane. It seemed that at each turn or stop, I would remember it from the last two trips in the snow. The rock that I sat on during our first trip as I struggled to catch my breath. The trees we ate lunch in. The spot at 13,000 ft (we thought it was 13,500 ft but discovered on this trip it was only 13,000 ft) where i began showing signs of altitude sickness and had to turn around. 

These memories set off red flags in my head telling me to turn around. I wasn't having that though. I had more determination in me than ever before. I wasn't going to let those memories stop me from reaching the top. Instead, I took those memories and the red flags that they set off and used them like fuel to a fire. I had failed so many times before, I wasn't going to fail this time.

I could feel the difficulty of the hike every step of the way. After doing Gray's Peak last week in the snow, I was surprised with how much trouble I was having getting up Quandary. I don't know if it was the steep grade or the rocks sliding beneath my feet, but I was struggling every step of the way.

It is a glorious feeling making it to the top.

It is a glorious feeling making it to the top.

I wasn't alone though, Along the trail we made many new friends, some from New York who we leap frogged with almost the whole way up and had great conversations a photo opportunities. Another group were from the Colorado Springs area, but one girl with them had just moved to Colorado from Chicago about 52 hours before deciding to climb to the top of a mountain. Her determination was amazing and side by side, we made our way to the summit of this great mountain that had deterred me so many times before.

With it being Labor Day weekend, there were many people on the mountain, and it seemed to be even more at the summit. It was like a big party, we were all in this together and the celebration at the top was glorious. We were on top of the world, sharing stories, booze, and pictures. Revealing in the immense goal we had just reached.

I think this may be the thing that I love most about climbing 14ers. The majority of us out here are in this together. We make new friends and accomplish these goals together. We make plans to meet again on another mountain for another trip to the top together. We share these new memories and hope to make more. Climbing a 14er is unlike any other hiking trail in the country and I look forward to many more trips with the amazing hikers of these beautiful 14ers and our journey together.

Here is to summit #2, only 56 more to go.

A pika looks out over the landscape. We can only imagine what the little guy is thinking.

A pika looks out over the landscape. We can only imagine what the little guy is thinking.

See more images at www.facebook.com/BrittneyKitiaraPhotographer

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14er

©BrittneyKitiaraMorgan

Being on the top of the world is a idea that many people dream of but very few can make a realization. To be able to see the world around you from a vantage point that so few ever see it from. Its a dream that I made into a reality on August 25, 2016.

For those of you who don't know, a 14er is a mountain in which the summit is above 14,000 ft in elevation. Colorado alone has 58 peaks that rise above 14,000 ft according to the Colorado Geological Survey. However, according to www.colorado.com, there has been much debate over the number of 14ers and what the qualifications for a 14er are. There are a few peaks that many wouldn't consider 14ers because the peak is not 300 ft above the saddle.

I have attempted to summit a 14er twice before both were on the mountain, Quandary Peak and during the winter. There is an event by the name of Winter Welcome, in which hikers from all around Colorado come together to bring in winter with a hike up Quandary Peak. My first attempt was in October 2013, I was brand new to the scene and wasn't quite ready for what I was getting myself into. I hiked slowly, but I hiked it all the way up to around 13,500 ft before I started showing signs of altitude sickness. This was the moment that I decided to turn around. My second attempts was also during Winter Welcome on Halloween 2015. This time I didn't get so far, even though I was much more prepared and determined. Not far below the tree line, my hip popped out of place, something that happens semi-regularly, but still hurts. However, I was so determined that I continued my way up the mountain. It wasn't for long though, just above the tree line I was screaming in pain with every step and my boyfriend, Josh, had to force me to turn around.

©BrittneyKitiaraMorgan

This time was different...

We awoke at 3:30 in the morning and were on the road by 4 towards Gray's Peak and Torrey's Peak. These mountains share a saddle and are a part of the Front Range. They are considered easier peaks even though no mountain is easy. Our goal was to get there early enough to climb Grey's Peak first and then across the saddle to Torrey's Peak before the incoming storms hit. Unfortunately, I am a slow hiker and what takes so many people 4-5 hours round trip, took me that long to summit just Gray's Peak. It was quite the adventure, we were expecting summer conditions so we were in tennis shoes with no waterproof pants but about half way up we hit snow and decided to keep going. It was a rough time getting through the slippery snow to the summit, but the closer it got the more energy I seamed to muster.

The last ten feet or so were emotional, each step brought me closer to a goal I thought I would never reach. The moment I stood up at the summit, tears began to well up in my eyes. It was not only an amazing view, but I had finally made it. Then I made the mistake of turning towards Josh and he spoke the words "You are that much closer to your dad. Imagine if he could see you right now."

©BrittneyKitiaraMorgan

We met a lovely lady, Judy, at the summit. She had hiked all the way up on her own and asked if she could join us on the way down. Of course we said yes, and the impending storm clouds gave us even more of a reason to join forces. Judy was such an amazing woman and greatly inspires me to continue hiking 14ers. She was also very helpful. Because we didn't come prepared I was slipping all over the place on the way down and Judy offered me a pair of gloves and one of her trekking poles. I couldn't say thank you enough! The trekking pole gave me such stabilization and confidence while heading down the slippery slope and helped me get safely to the bottom of the mountain. I very much enjoyed talking to her on the way down a swapping stories. I definitely felt like I had made a new friend.

If I learned anything from this trip up to the top of the world, it is to never give up on your dreams. I had so many reasons to quit, but I found so many more reasons to keep going. I found a new passion and a new way to see and photograph the world. I feel so blessed to have the ability and opportunity to hike to the summit and make these memories.

©BrittneyKitiaraMorgan

See more images at www.facebook.com/BrittneyKitiaraPhotographer

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carbondale rodeo

©BrittneyKMorgan-20160630-CanonEOSRebelT3i-00244.jpg

My boot hits the ground, I'm at an event that is extremely familiar to these old boots, however, brand new to my camera. I'm at the rodeo. I grew up watching rodeos whenever possible so the wet dirt and shiny bleachers were no new sight to me. The smell of animals made me feel comfortable instead of off-put. Yet, I was carrying something that had never before been to the rodeo, my camera.

To be honest, I was intimidated, I've seen so many amazing photographs of the rodeo that I was worried that I would absolutely fail and find myself discouraged. However, as the rodeo began and I heard the click, click, click of my camera capturing image after image, my confidence went up. I was less concerned about how the images turned out as I was enjoying taking them. A feeling that I had forgotten as life continuously got in the way of my passion for photography. I was on cloud nine, enjoying every aspect of the evening and I feel blessed to have had that feeling again.

The night was filled with a variety of rodeo events including team roping, bull riding, mutton busting, and more. There was so much to see and a photograph, you are constantly wondering if you are missing something beautiful happening in a different location. The whole event kept me engaged as a customer and as a photographer.

To see more images and my journey in rodeo photography visit https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1095401690517991.1073741844.134485616609608&type=1&l=c489ec15d3

jay's steakhouse

Today's post is a blast from the past. A few years ago I was given an amazing opportunity that I couldn't pass up. A new restaurant was opening up in Rifle, Colorado while at the same time I was a second year student in the photography program at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. At the time I was good friends with the owner's son and because of that relationship, I was able to strike the greatest deal. Jay, the owner, and I decided that he would be able to use my images for any use if I was able to use them for my classes and portfolio. I feel so honored that Jay granted me this opportunity to widen my horizon and hone my skills. My instructors were highly impressed and I was amazed at what I came out of the shoot. Words cannot describe how blessed I feel to have had this opportunity. Though my passion is still portraiture, I feel comfortable going out into the world and exploring opportunities that I believe I would have shied away from if it were not for this session with Jay at his steakhouse.

If you are ever in Rifle, Colorado I highly recommend that you stop in and say hello. The food that they prepare is amazing and the people who work there are fantastic as well!

Wingerter Wedding

This past Saturday I had the honor of being invited to photograph and beautiful, intimate wedding. I want to start this off by thanking Trisha and Mark for allowing me to be there and photograph your special day and the beginning of forever for you and your kids! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to broaden my skills. The event took place at Colorado Monument overlooking the valley below, due to the location it tested my ability to capture those precious moments between Mark and Trisha along with their bridal party and family. I am very pleased with when I have seen so far and my greatest hope is that the lovely couple feels the same. I do hope that they enjoy their honeymoon before returning to their home in Grand Junction, Colorado to their kids and jobs and I wish them love and happiness forever and always!

The Delgado Family

I have had the opportunity to photograph this family twice now and it has always been an adventure. As most of you know I specialize in outdoor portraiture, however, with young children, that isn't always possible. I have been working to push myself to do more indoor photo sessions and hone in my skills in that setting. This session was an adventure with one energetic baby and one cranky baby, however, we made the most of it and plan to do more soon to complete the session. Here is a bit of what I captured during this session. God Bless.

Glenwood Adventure Company

The Glenwood Adventure Company is a fast growing business surrounded by the love of outdoor sports such as white water rafting, snowmobiling, bicycling, and more! Located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado in the Roaring Fork Valley, they are in a prime area.

The guides are fun and knowledgable and their only goals are to make sure you have a wonderful time and that you are safe!

I have had the pleasure of knowing the owner and many of the guides for two years now and have photographed them both for fun and for profit. I am very thankful for all the access I get to the boathouse and trips that are provided at the Glenwood Adventure Company so that I can take these photographs and share them with the world!

If you are ever in the Glenwood Springs, Colorado area please stop by and show your support by booking an adventure! I promise you that it is well worth it and that it will be a trip that you remember for the rest of your days!

http://www.glenwoodadventure.com


Rifle Chamber of Commerce's Annual Dinner

On March 8, 2014 I had the pleasure of photographing the Rifle Chamber of Commerce's Annual Dinner which also happened to be the Chamber's 60th Anniversary. The images I took includes portraits after a red carpet entry, still lives of the Silent Auction items as well as the details of the decorations and delectable food, and smiling faces of the award winners. More photographs can be found on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.667355056655992.1073741841.134485616609608&type=3) I will be adding more images to this blog as well as the Facebook Album as they are completed.