Sprague Lake – tourist or guest?

Sprague Lake - tourist or guest?

After a late evening on the west side, I decided to “sleep in” until 4:30 so I could make first light at Sprague Lake, one of the more accessible lakes on the east side for early light photos.  There was virtually no breeze, a first for my morning shots, and the lake was calm.  I photographed a few spots about a half hour before sunrise, before I headed out along the trail to find a spot to photograph early light. 

As I headed out on the trail, I met Rick Gayhart, a resident of Loveland, who was out early to photograph as well.  He said that he tries to get into the park once or twice a week, saying that no matter how many times you come into the park, you can always find something new. 

What Rick had to say is a philosophy I can agree with.  Nearby my home of Anchorage, there is a body of water called the Turnagain Arm.  I have routinely told people I could spend an entire year photographing nowhere but Turnagain, and could always have something to photograph.  The seasons change, light changes, the weather changes, wildlife patterns change, even blooming patterns of flowers change from year to year.  There is always something new to photograph, even at someplace as “cliché” as Sprague Lake, or Wonder Lake back home in Alaska. 

Albert Sprague, after whom the lake is named, also spoke of a similar philosophy, making a distinction between “tourists” and “guests.”  Mr. Sprague operated the Sprague Lake Lodge from 1910-40.  He called people “tourists” when he referred to people who “go tearing from coast to coast and back again on their vacations … When they reach home from their travels they are certain where they say this or that.”  As for guests, he said the guest “comes to spend every minute of his vacation he can spare.  If he fails to see every nook and corner of the place on one visit, he comes year after year … Our guests never get tired, the same old urge to visit spots seen more than once brings them back on their next vacation.  They go home rested.” 

I was able to experience this dichotomy first hand this morning.  About ten minutes after first light, after Rick and I had been there for around forty minutes, another photographer showed up.  He seem harried, rushed, and had a wife and kid in tow.  The new photographer picked a spot, photographed for five minutes, then left with his family.  They did not seem to be there to enjoy the lake; rather, they apparently came so that an obligatory photo could be taken to move on to the next spot, or back to bed.  Rick and I stayed at the lake for almost another two hours, exploring all other aspects that the lake had to offer.  Flowers, reflections, ducklings … all of them presented to me for my eye and my camera. 

For the rest of the day, I am taking off to relax, read, and simply enjoy the view from the cabin for what it is.  Tomorrow morning, weather permitting, I am thinking on a visit to Bierstadt Lake. 




One Response to “Sprague Lake – tourist or guest?”

  1. Rick Gayhart Says:


    It was a pleasure meeting you today. Always nice to talk with a kindred spirit. Looks like you made some nice images between chats. After Sprague, a friend and I hiked above Lily Lake to Jurassic Park and Two Bathtubs. The midday cloud cover was pretty dramatic!

    Best of luck to you, and may your second week in the park be a fruitful one.


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