Winter was supposed to come early to southern Colorado and Cripple Creek last night… we got a little snow and some cold but the worst of the storm came in the form of some very dense and treacherous fog for anyone trying to drive through the darkness. It did make for a beautiful night in downtown Cripple Creek though with the lights of the casino district glowing softly through the snowflakes drifting lazily down from the frozen mountain air.
Often after one of these storms the action in the mountains the next day can be breathtaking. I awoke early and the doggy was ready for a hike so I decided to see if I could make the top of the ridge behind Little Grouse Mountain where there might be a good view of both the Sangre and the Collegiates. It has been awhile since I have hiked that far but I thought it would be well worth the effort in pictures if I was right.
It didn’t take long before I got a taste of what I was going to see if I could make it to the top of the ridge. I didn’t even know if there was going to be a trail up there but pressed on anyway, ghostly trees in the shaded valley below created an amazing wintry scene. About a half hour in I was at the base of the ridge and there was a faint wagon trail calling my name, leading up and around to the top. Have to say it was a tough climb after a month or two of taking it easy, a fourteener in the immediate future may not be in the cards! Looks like there might have been some gold there at one time, it appears quite a few of the original explorers decided to stake mining claims there. Only the ghostly remains of their hopeful efforts are visible now, a few rocks and some caved in digs.
Finally we reached the summit and the view was indeed magnificent, the Sangre to the south and the Collegiate Peaks to the west. Looks like the Collegiate Peaks have been getting a bit of snow already, not so much further south. The remnants of last night’s fog filled the high plains between Victor and the Sangres, exactly the panorama I was hoping for 🙂
My legs are tired and sore and the dog is contently sleeping as I process the pictures and recall the beautiful morning. These images are but a couple of the pretty good sized batch I was able to capture this morning. Please be sure to visit swkrullimaging often so you don’t miss out on the wealth of imagery I have been able to acquire this fall!
Beautiful morning for a hike and Grouse Mountain is my go to trail for getting some exercise for me and my four legged hiking buddy. Still have my eye on the distant trail, but not enough time today. The Sangre De Cristo were extra beautiful this morning so I decided on the dead end road around the east side where it looked like there might be a better view.
As I neared the cattle gate I spotted an intriguing flag that I had never noticed before… Obviously I was obliged to check it out and much to my surprise it is a trail flag marking a zig zag pathway through the barrier, probably designed to keep Motorcycles out. No view, but I did find a shortcut to the distant mountain I have been eyeing 🙂
Got a shot or two with my phone cam and some great shots with my Canon on the way home. No time to process those today, but I should have them on my website soon, be sure to click the links to the left or in the menu if you are on a smartphone!
Nice ending to a lazy Sunday… Thanks to my ever energetic canine explorer I was not destined to have a full day of rest on this Lord’s Day 🙂 Son Boy was getting restless late in the afternoon so I decided to take him on a good hike to the Grouse Mountain overlook near Victor, where gold was discovered in 1891 by William Scott Stratton. Being late afternoon I was thinking we might see some wildlife so I brought the camera and my F4L 70-200, my go to lens for wildlife hiking.
Sure enough, about a quarter of a mile up the trail we spotted a huge bull elk but unfortunately he spotted us first… and quickly left the scene. The hike to the top is only about a three quarters of a mile where there is a beautiful vantage point overlooking the Sangre De Cristo Mountains to the south and the Collegiate Peaks to the west. It was pretty hazy today but I stopped for a few captures anyway before heading back down to the trailhead. The Sangre and Collegiate Peaks are just too beautiful to pass by without a picture!
I’ve been feeling the call to explore a bit south of there on a higher mountain but haven’t seen a trail and the worry of unmarked mine cavities has held me back. Today however I noticed some sort of marker, a cairn with a flag… So we wandered over to take a look and discovered that it said “Trail”. Sure enough there was a faint trail and it looked like another cairn about 50 to 75 yards ahead. We had a bit of extra time and Son Boy looked game so we headed down for a better look. Soon a more obvious trail appeared which gave way to what appeared to be a turn of the 20th century wagon trail that headed off into the distance towards the south and the Sangre De Cristo. As I strode along the rugged dirt path it occurred to me that the ground I was on was probably exactly the same as it was over a hundred years ago when the original prospectors walked it hoping to strike it rich.
Finally… a trail in the Cripple Creek area that doesn’t just end in a turnaround! Now this was going to require some investigating! I followed the trail around the mountain towards the taller mountain and was determined to reach a point ahead where I could see that there might be a good view to the west. Didn’t get my view today, but the trail continues into the countryside as far as the eye can see. Now I am eager to take this trail further, perhaps there will be some abandoned mines off the beaten path, some that haven’t had their view obstructed by the barbed wire and fences of modern civilization. Also I am inspired to try new roads in hopes of finding new trails where I can follow in the footsteps of 19th century explorers and gold prospectors… I doubt I will find any gold nuggets, but perhaps my blog accounts and pictures will produce some digital gold 🙂
Stay tuned to S. W. Krull Imaging for the results of my next hike into the Cripple Creek back country! Also be sure to click the links at the left or in the menu section if you are on a smart phone, to view images for sale on my website… Wall art, clothing and a wealth of gift items are available there!
Autumn and golden aspen leaves grace the slopes of magnificent Pikes Peak Colorado this time of year, but with all the chaos from the move I was starting to think I was going to miss the whole show. Finally though, my truck is finally roadworthy and a day off of work coincided with a sunny morning. I decided it was now or never and readied my equipment for a morning shoot.
I wanted to catch the beauty at first light so I set my alarm for an early morning, which proved to be unnecessary… I was awake long before dawn, which to me was a fortuitous excuse for a trip to Bronco Billy’s for some biscuits and gravy 🙂 After some coffee and breakfast I was on my way around the gold mine and headed toward Victor. Didn’t see much color yet by that time so I continued my journey.
As I neared the ghost town of Goldfield an amazing scene appeared in rear view mirror… The silhouette of one of the historic mines from the old west boom days was highlighted by a beautiful cloud bank filling in the valley below. A few deer grazing in the mountain grass also graced the scene and can be viewed on my website by clicking the buttons on the left or in the menu if you are on a smartphone.
Fall and golden aspen trees come to the southwest face of Pikes Peak Colorado
From there I continued north for a great view of Pikes Peak and the vista that spread before me was breathtaking! Clouds and mist were spilling over the mountain and filling the golden valley and mountainside with a mystical mantle that was begging for a camera!
Several stops were needed along my way to Gillette Flats before I took the turn south on highway 67 and back to Cripple Creek. By this time the sun was burning brightly, creating a blaze of glory in the golden aspen leaves lining the route. One grove was particularly inviting, requiring a little hike to capture.
Be sure to visit my print site to see all the images from this outing as I get them posted.
I never wanted to live in the city, the mountains were my dream… And I did want to travel around the country and see new places but with no money and no real plan, the Air Force seemed to be a reasonable solution. Unfortunately that choice took me directly to the big city where I learned how to program computers. That of course landed me in even bigger cities, the Bay Area in California and eventually Denver, the place I called home for over a quarter of a century. Through it all though, I never got used to the city, the crowds, the traffic, the long commutes and the incredible waste of time required to accomplish the most mundane tasks, like going to the store or the post office.
Sunrise over Cripple Creek
Finally, after four decades of surburban hell, I am out and I’m never going back. Getting settled nicely in Cripple Creek now, although my progress has been slightly interrupted by car trouble. Which is what brings me to this post… Although I haven’t had transportation for a few days, I haven’t missed any work, only a 15 minute walk. Dropped off the truck for repairs this morning and only had a five minute walk home… This is how life should be, my life anyway.