As I asked at the end of Part One in this two article series, “Why am I so attached to Mt. Ouray (and O’Haver Lake)?” The answer is simple. They have been part of my life for a long time.
When I was growing up in the 60s, my family camped at O’Haver Lake several times a year from the spring through the fall. The view in the above photo was the view we had from our favorite campsite. We had tents, but so long as it wasn’t raining I liked to sleep under the stars. In the morning I would wake up in my sleeping bag, sit up, and see the view above. Within minutes my brother and I would be at the lake shore with fishing poles, and we would be there until someone called us for breakfast. And if all went well during the day, we would have trout for lunch or dinner.
Then I was off to college in Lincoln, Nebraska, married a girl I met at the university, got a job in Nebraska, and started a family. It wasn’t long before we were driving to Colorado and taking our children to O’Haver Lake every few years.
I was working in northern New Mexico in September 1986. When I finished work September 29, I drove north to O’Haver Lake to take some picture that evening and the next morning. September 30 was one of the best mornings I ever had with a camera (at least to that point in my life). I had a glorious time chasing wild roses, dew covered aspen leaves, the lake, and nearby mountains.
One of my best images of the morning was of Porphyry Peak. I realized how much I loved what I was doing and decided then and there that I wanted to become a good photographer. As I left at noon for the long drive home, I couldn’t wait to get home, send my slides off to Kodak, and get them back to see how they looked. That morning was a turning point in my life. I wasn’t about to quit the day job that I loved, but I resolved to become a better photographer. The image above of Porphyry Peak became my first published cover photo for an internationally published magazine.
I still go back to O’Haver Lake every few years. My brother-in-law and I were there a year ago in the fall. It is still a very special place for me. Whatever I have become as a photographer started that morning at O’Haver Lake in 1986. That is why my friend’s aerial photo of Mt. Ouray jumped off the monitor at me.
To get to O’Haver Lake, drive south of Poncha Springs Colorado on US. 285. About 5 1/2 miles from the US 285/US 50 intersection turn right at the well marked sign to O’Haver Lake and Marshall Pass. Follow the signs to O’Haver Lake. The drive over Marshall Pass to Sargents, Colorado is also one of the prettiest fall color drives in southern Colorado (see the travel guide linked below).