There are two most common expressions of winter in the Rocky Mountains. One involves the piercing-blue sky against the just-as-piercing white snow that always makes your friends ask whether you have "Photoshopped" the images you've captured, no-they-don't-believe-you. Cold weather makes the mountains look postcard-perfect, after all. The other is just around freezing, featuring varying degrees of visibility due to snow fog. But, much like the offensively immaculate sky requires little-to-no editing, neither does this latter variant. The entire world transforms into black and white—no desaturation filters needed.
Time change back from the so-called daylight savings can be disorienting enough. Waking up to the following early-November scene outside the window on the same morning makes you want to say, "Is it Christmas already?"
Meet Snow Fog from New Year's Eve that dissipated as quickly as it appeared, mysterious, perhaps, a bit foreboding, but, at the same time, holding secret promise.
Shooting this image using a high ISO without a tripod actually worked out well: the grain enhances the atmosphere.
It's been weeks since I've visited the Mountain.
One of the best (worst) aspects to doing so is that I never know what to expect. There have been times when the town, where I live, was rainy and dreary, whereas higher altitudes were filled with brilliant sunshine, and vice versa.
On this particular occasion, I stepped into heavy snowfall and Cosmic Grayness.
Snow-burdened and desaturated evergreens appeared out of its depths, while the chairs on the ski lift, or rather, their barely discernible pixels, dissolved back into it. Not a mule deer or a raven were to be seen or heard in these seemingly lifeless woods.
Postscriptum: With snow overflowing my boots, I slightly underestimated the knee-deep hiking conditions halfway up to the invisible Heavens, making me work as my dog's personal bulldozer.
Hiking in a lost world drained of color, we passed by the bridge to Nowhere, as we climbed higher and higher.
Indeed, there was Nowhere to go but up.
Lungs hurt from the influx of chilled air, as did our quads from exertion, despite all the diligent stretching.
Boots filled with snow.
I stopped to document the disappearing surroundings with my smartphone only to be startled by a woodpecker perched on a nearby tree stump. But my loyal and long-eared canine did not give me the chance to identify it, scaring it off into the Gray.
On this frozen mountain, this was not the only avian we encountered. What now seemed like a regular fixture, a large black raven dove in and out of the fog, the only thing revealing its presence in the other--hidden--world was its audibly flapping wings.
The snow fog also concealed most of the already meager signs of civilization which is always exciting and unsettling at the same time.
It is particularly unsettling when the aforementioned loyal canine--in possession of the second-best sense of smell of all dogs in the world--stopped, listened, and sniffed the air in a way that was much different from its standard behavior around deer and grouse.
Something more menacing was nearby, and it was almost dusk.
We headed in.
Meet Snow Fog.
He is the frost-bitten version of the Gray, and is, therefore, no less ravenous.
In fact, it is much easier for winter's Gray to eat the entire mountain in one murky chomp, because the Sun rarely makes an appearance this time of the year. And when it does, the latter is brief.
There is simply no one left to fight the Gray.
Except for the birds that travel between these two worlds.