“Gateway to Heaven”
The phenomenon you see in this photo is called a cloud bow. It is a cousin to a rainbow, but because the water droplets in a cloud are much smaller the colors scatter leaving it mostly white. They are also known as a fog bow or white rainbow. It is uncommon to see one, and they are easy to miss as well. This was the first of a few I saw on Sunday, you can also see a partial one in the middle of yesterday’s panorama if you look closely. This photo has so much story in it, so if you’re willing continue on with me for the raw experience that brought me to this moment.
This month has been challenging for me and my photography, as the weekend weather all month has been poor. Even this past weekend wasn’t great, but I had been looking at biking up Trail Ridge ever since it opened to bikes at the beginning of April. High winds are common up here, but this weekend was the first with a generally calm wind forecast, as well as being the last weekend before the road would likely open to autos for the season. I woke up at 3:30 AM for the drive up to Rainbow Curve for sunrise, but here the forecast held true and it was completely clouded in. I was tired from the early wake up, and I was tempted by the poor visibility to bag the whole thing and go home. Would it really be worth the effort? But this was something that I had been wanting to do, and my guidance in these situations is always to go anyway when there is no danger. I would definitely be safe, and you never know what will happen. So I pushed myself out of the truck, got myself packed up, and started up the hill on the bike. A little short of a mile up, I came to this spot with a somewhat interesting view of the hillside trees in the clouds, and I also needed a breather, so I hopped off the bike and started taking some shots. Suddenly, the sun began to break through and this scene appeared in the breaking clouds. I quickly pulled out my camera, and in a hurry to capture what was there I didn’t even grab my bike as I backed up to fit the bow in the frame. After a few shots I retrieved it and continued, but the bow was already dissipating and those shots weren’t as dramatic as this.