"In 2015, I drove to Colorado (The Rocky Mountain National Park more importantly..) with the intent to find out more of myself & my lust for the adventures existing everywhere in the west. The mountains called & I came basically, however I didn't feel like I had really explored the landscape to it's full potential. So the day after I got home, I planned & started routing out my adventure for the next summer, to make things right with me & the mountains. My bestfriend & hiking partner Geraldine Chavez was of interest in being a part of this return, so we spent the next four months mapping out & sculpting this expedition in hopes of a life altering experience. We found such luck & success in those landscapes & now I will share them with you."
Like any good road trip, a middle of the night start was well underway. On the road heading west by 4:40am we cruised all the way to Missouri without much pause or delay, pulled off in Kansas City for some lunch. Ended up getting enchiladas & sopes at the beautifully authentic La Flor de Chiapas. With full stomachs we headed out of Missouri into the flat windy lands of Kansas & were praying for a quick arrival into the promise land, Colorado.
Luckily Geraldine had plenty of tunes that kept us steady rocking, everything from "Work" by Rhianna to "After the Gold Rush" by the master blaster himself, Neil Young. Kansas reached 103 degrees the day we drove through it, I could feel the heat radiating through her car windows & doors. Just before I could summon the energy to make a complaint, we were in Colorado & being welcomed with crazy storms of orange lightning flashes & patches of hail dense rainfall. When we got into Loveland, we settled into a free overnight parking spot (Thanks for the help Jackie) & tilted our seats back for a few hours of rest. Anxiously dreaming away of what was to come the next day as we entered the Rockies.
With another early start to the day, we enjoyed a beautiful sun rising view of the mountains as we headed into Estes Park. With every curved road & foot of elevation gained, I could feel Geraldine's mutual excitement & understanding of what we were doing & why we were doing it. Once we arrived, we headed straight to Claire's on the Park for some delicious breakfast & coffee & were accompanied by a view of Longs Peak from our patio table. Knowing I'd be atop the summit in just a little over a week was an assuring feeling, I stared at it & took another bite. After finishing up, we headed into the RMNP & drove into our first campground for the trip. We stayed two nights at Moraine Park campground & spent the days hiking using the various shuttle buses that the Park services offer. It gave us the opportunity to focus on the views & beauty that this place offers us all.
With it being Geraldine's first time here at the RMNP, I made sure to introduce her to the trails that I walked just over a year ago myself. We headed to the Bear Lake trailhead & hiked up to Alberta Falls where the waters were roaring rapidly & then headed to Nymph, Dream & Emerald lake. On the way back from Albert Falls I walked past a familiar face, Tommy Caldwell (One of my Patagonia heroes). My feelings of the trip before us grew of even brighter standards at that moment.
The day proved to a beautiful one, with every raindrop & snack eaten. Geraldine was hiking with me in the canvas I used to create my last publication, "Howling West" . She was finding areas in her soul that I could tell hadn't yet been discovered, much like I had experienced myself on my first hike here in the RMNP. As we made it to Emerald lake, I finished up my roll of 35mm film & packed away my camera just as a strong storm approached us in the soup bowl that is Emerald lake. We had the entire lake to ourselves & gracefully embraced mother natures winds & rainfall. Once we made our way back to the trailhead, we hoped onto the shuttle & made our way back to camp for the night, wet packs & all.
All images shot with Kodak Portra 160 film
George Barnett, a Kentucky native that spends the better part of his days in the remote wilderness backpacking & roaming to find the next mountainside of inspiration. He & his son Levi Barnett have a untouchable relationship that only the tree's & lakes can comprehend. George searches for truth in conservation, the purpose of nature & it's inhabitants.