Had the pleasure of visiting this incredible location early Sept of 2017 after this year’s Burning Man. Needless to say going to the desert after a hot event might have been a mistake as it was over 100F when this was taken. As we were hiking back to the car there were some storms off in the distance. With the obviously amazing rock in the foreground I was able to capture only one frame with lightning. Between the hot weather and lighting…definitely valley of fire.
Last Wednesday I had just gotten back to Maui and headed up to Paia to play some ultimate. The weather in the eastern Islands had been stormy for a couple of days with damaging flooding occurring on Maui the day prior. While the sky was nice enough there were storm clouds further down the coast but weren’t tracking any further to the west. As the sun set we noticed a couple of the clouds starting popping off some awesome lightning. Standing there watching this awesome spectacle I decided to run back to the car and grab my gear and hurry to the beach to try and catch some. These kinds of conditions are VERY rare in Hawaii and standing out there with the ocean running up watching this show was special. To add to the surreal part of the scene the full moon had just rising and was lighting everything up as well! Not a bad way to start this trip!
So about mid August I had the opportunity to visit the incredible place known as Great Sand Dunes National Park. This crazy place is located south of Denver and just a bit west in the San Luis Valley. Nestled up against 14k foot mountains, these sand dunes cover 30 sq miles and rise, at the tallest, about 700ft. Meeting a friend from college the day before we headed out to our date with the dunes. Arriving later in the afternoon (maybe a bit later than planned), there was only one thing to do…climb the dune, aptly named “High Dune” of course. Climbing at altitude is one thing, the dunes start at 8500ft, but climbing up a hill of sand AT altitude….exhausting! That combined with the fact we were a bit late and hustling to make it up for the good light (ok I was trying to make it up for the good light…he was just along for the ride) made for some huffing and puffing. Arriving at the top there were a few people already collected to watch the sunset and the monsoon storms that had started to pop a bit. Then, as sunset wore on, blam!….lighting across the valley. Luckily…right before this trip I had purchased a Lightning Trigger on the oft chance I would have the opportunity to photograph some lightning. Quite pleased with that decision 🙂 Setting up the camera and composing the trigger did its job, firing the camera when it sensed lightning. How? I can only say SCIENCE! As the sunset wore on the lightning continued across the valley, approximately 50 miles away. Then another storm to the south of that as well. What a scene to watch! As the color started to fade and the storms seemed to start to move around a bit we made the DARK hike back down the dunes, which made for an adventurous hike. A few light rain drops hit us as we made the bottom and got back to camp. Checking my camera I found this set of bolts that came down all at once and knew I had something special.