Mountain Freedom

Was watching the newest version of the story of the worst disaster on Everest when I heard an interesting quote that I had never noticed before. The scene was early in the movie when the group was resting and making small talk in their tents getting mentally prepared for their run at the summit. Beck Weathers commented that “When I’m at home there is a big black cloud following me, you know like a depression. But when I’m out here on a mountain, any mountain, it’s like it is a cure.”.

Summit Mount Elbert Colorado

Summit of Mount Elbert Colorado

The quote kind of struck a chord with me because I kind of get that. I think about the mountains all the time, of course that isn’t difficult when you can see them all the time! But when I haven’t been able to go anywhere for a while, or climb up high in a while I get the black cloud too. Like now for example, I started a new job in September working the graveyard shift, something that isn’t particularly good for me. I never get enough sleep, I’m tired all the time and there is no energy for a mountain adventure.

Finally though, I am done with the graveyards and going to day shift.  Even though I’m exhausted today, I hope to be able to  get out tomorrow, maybe on Little Grouse Mountain, to start getting back into 14er climbing shape. Don’t think I’ll be getting in any winter climbs this year, but the idea of an early summer climb on Quandary is starting to take seed in my mind. It looks like a fairly easy one as far as 14ers are concerned, and it is one I have never done. Looking forward once again to the freedom on the mountain!

 

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Making a Life vs Making a Living

Another in a jumbled pile of random thoughts that has been prodding me lately… Finally after half a year of grave yard shifts, next week I get to move to the day shift. Apparently there is an odd soul who despises working days who is more than happy to take my place 🙂 Anyway, I don’t sleep well or even at all during the day so I have basically gone pretty much without sleep four days out of the week for this entire time. On the nights I work I spend the entire day trying to sleep and worrying about the next day… by the time the week ends I am so trashed that I am completely disfunctional until it is time to go back to work and do it all over again.

Deer in Wildflowers

So… for all these months I have been making a living, but not a life. However, I am finally getting put together the things that help make a life, things like a checking account, internet service, a routine and friends. I am looking forward to once again having a life, not just living to make a living.

As I was working on my laptop today which I have largely neglected since I didn’t have internet service I noticed that all my accounts, my agencies and my blog have the wrong phone numbers, address and various other details that require my attention. Not terribly surprising… but I also noticed that I haven’t shot many pictures worth uploading lately. So I decided to take a look back at last year, especially since with my latest photo shop updates I have acquired the Adobe Stock publishing button available right in Adobe Bridge 🙂

Misty Peak

What is surprising to me though, is an apparent inattention to uploading that plagued my photography last year… I wonder what was going through my mind to just shoot these images and not upload them? When I look back a few years at some of my older photo shoots I can remember the very day that I captured the pictures… What I was doing, thinking, and where I was at that exact moment. As I look back on last year I don’t remember these pictures or how I came about getting them.

Interestingly last year was the same as this year… working late at night at a physically exhausting job. No energy for anything but work, no strength to make a life, just a living. Anyway, now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel I am glad I had the mental acumen to keep my camera with me and keep shooting because some of these pictures are amazing! I just wish I could remember having fun shooting them!

Oh well, no great words of wisdom on what to do about it but at least if you read this and find yourself making a living and not a life, perhaps you might recognize it and hopefully make a change… Sometimes it is all out of our control though and all we can do is pray for the strength to get through it.

As always there are many new images for sale on my website which you can view by clicking the links to the left, or by bringing up the menu if you are on a smart phone!

On Comebacks

Big step today in my return to civilized life… It wasn’t easy up in this little mountain town but I finally found an internet provider that could hook me up with 10mbps. This is a huge step in restoring my ability to conduct my photography and writing enterprises! I still remember sitting in my camper after the wife had passed from cancer, life completely decimated… no home, no family, no job, no savings left, camera broken and laptop on it’s last leg. Wondering, how does one come back from this?

Steve & Dad Leadville (wordpress)Today I received and notice in the email that it is once again time to register for the Leadville 100 “Race Across the Sky” and I am reminded of my most memorable comeback, my first Leadville 100 finish. I was relatively inexperienced at running that distance and by the time I had reached the Halfmoon aid station on the return trip about 70 miles into the race, I was physically and mentally trashed. If you want to drop out, you can ask  the aid  station and they will remove your medical stats wrist band, effectively eliminating you from the race. I was the first person I had encountered who looked so bad that the aid station people were asking me for my medical band. But for some reason I said no and managed to down some food and eventually stumble out of the aid station and continue the race.

I was moving so slowly though that race personnel were continuing to drive by and ask me for my medical band. But I continued to put one foot in front of the other while my mind argued with my body… With more than a marathon in distance to go there is no earthly reason to believe that it is possible to finish. In preparation for a marathon distance run most people get some extra rest, do some carbo loading and take steps to prepare their minds and body for such a distance. No one starts a marathon completely exhausted, sleep deprived and sick from not being able to eat a proper meal, cold and wet and in the dark of night in the mountains with an 11,200 foot pass to climb.

But even then, in complete denial of reality, I continued to put one foot in front of the other… why? Because I could. Because it is what I expected of myself, because it is what my crew who had worked so hard all summer with me expected of me. Because you can’t just drop out for being tired and sick, because you knew when you signed up for such insanity that you were going to be cold and tired and sick for over 24 hours. Cold and tired and sick is not a valid excuse for giving up, it is part of the race. Such as it is in real life, even in your darkest hour you continue on because that is what everyone does, because that is what is expected of you by your friends and family and people who are counting on you, because giving up is unthinkable.

Well as it turns out by the time I arrived at the Fish Hatchery aid station I was feeling a bit better and was able to down some more food. By the time I got to Hagerman Pass the food was kicking in and I could smell the finish line. There was still nearly 20 miles to go but some strength had returned and my body had warmed somewhat. I knew I was pushing the limit on cutoff times and I dug deep and hit the afterburner. Later my pacer told me if I had gone any faster over the pass he would not have been able to keep up with me. By the time I had gotten around Turquoise Lake I had made up considerable time against the cutoff limits and a finish was guaranteed if I could just continue to put one foot in front of the other.  I could no longer hold down any food or ERG but I just kept walking up the long four mile hill to the finish line. Finally, after 29 hours the old west mining town of Leadville was once again in sight. And at 29:15 my feet crossed the finish line and I received the coveted hug and finisher’s medallion from Merilee.

I have been involved with sports my entire life and am definitely a fan of great comebacks. I believe that sports can train people for success in life and this experience was no different. I was able to draw on the hardship and perseverance involved in finishing a 100 mile race in the mountains against impossible odds to carry on with life even after the terrible circumstances surrounding such a devastating illness and death in the family. I know others are at this time facing their darkest hour and I hope these words can in some small way encourage them to make their comeback in life.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Winter Photography, Shooting in the Snow

Snow is probably my favorite photo subject… If not the actual snow, maybe it is the beautiful transformation of vvour big brown rocks into an amazing  Rocky Mountain winter wonderland that captivates me!

Elk in a Colorado snowstorm

Rocky Mountain elk in a Colorado snowstorm

Today brings the first real snow we have seen in the mountains in a long time, so of course I had to go out in it 🙂 I’m pretty sure Big Dog loves the white stuff even more than I do so I had no trouble talking him into a trek! He seems impervious to cold and wind and was up for whatever we needed to do!

The wind is blowing pretty hard and those snowflakes sting! I decided on my snorkel parka today which was perfect. It’s not actually that cold so my Gortex Asolo light hikers were fine for protecting my feet. No snowshoes needed today, looks worse out than it is. Three or four inches is about all we are going to see out of this one.

For camera protection I prefer the AquaTech rain shield, good for rain or snow. It has to be a pretty rough day for me to need more than my REI glove liners, which are perfect for operating the camera controls in cold weather. The last time they were used as actual glove liners was on top of Mount Elbert!!!

The whiteout conditions make a mockery of the camera metering system and it is difficult to run the controls with the rain cover so I just set the ISO to 400 for the cloudy conditions with exposure compensation at +1.5. I also lock the control wheel so it won’t inadvertently change and ruin my day!

With that done I’m good to go and with any luck the deer and elk will be huddled somewhere I can find them!

Wildlife Paradox

Watching the news last night I saw an interesting example of paradoxical stories that I found a bit disturbing. The first story was about two fishermen who had taken considerable and heroic risk to rescue a doe and her fawn from drowning.

Mule deer in snow

Mule deer in snow

The very next bit was a claim by the city that there are too many deer on the west side. So apparently the city managers in their infinite wisdom could only conjure one solution, which was to unleash hoards of hunters armed with high power bows to “harvest” 200 does and fawns per year, the very animals that the previous men had gone to extraordinary lengths to rescue!

Well it did occur to them that it could be problematic to have hunters skulking about our back yards murdering these peaceful sentient creatures that many families and their children happen to adore, so they thought it might be a good idea instead to have a bunch of armed idiots stalking our crowded parks, killing the animals that are where they are supposed to be so that people can go see them.

Naturally the local bow salesman was all for the idea, and not at all concerned about the possibility of accidentally dispatching a few children and their pets. 

Well the deer are becoming problematic they say. So I did a quick study to ascertain what sort of problems deer might cause. Mostly it appears they like to eat flowers, raising the ire of city people who chose to buy homes in wildlife habitat and are now dismayed to find wildlife there. They also have a tendency to increase car animal collisions. No mention that careless drivers also have a tendency to run down children and pets…

Seriously people… Hunters wandering our parks and neighborhoods? How about some education instead? How about planting flowers that the deer don’t like? How about slowing the car down a little? One lady I tried to slow down as she barreled through a herd of deer screamed at me that she had the right to drive the speed limit… Well, no you don’t. The limit is defined as the fastest speed you can go in optimal conditions. Once there are animals, pets or children nearby the conditions are no longer optimal and you are required to slow down.

How about some common sense and a little live and let live!

Mountain View Different Every Day

Sometimes I get to thinking there’s no need to take the camera along on a hike, but then I take it anyway. And I am always amazed when I get there and somehow it all looks new and my latest hike was no different! It was an unusually warm day with some high thin clouds and a lot of haze that I assumed was going to ruin my outing.

Sange De Cristo Mountain Range

Beautiful view of the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range in Colorado in the wintertime

As a result I took a bit different route hoping to see some elk or some deer to salvage the day. But as I rounded the mountain a completely different view presented itself. The odd light through the clouds early in the day with the winter sun low in the sky created this cool layered effect that I had not noticed before. Experience told me to use my 70-200 lens zoomed in all the way to flatten the layers of mountains for the greatest two dimensional effect. The Sangre De Cristo Range is always beautiful and this new view is a great addition to my collection of landscapes 🙂

This image and more are now available on my website as wall art on metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, and traditional print materials. Many cool gift and household items are also available, including coffee mugs, t-shirts, phone cases, portable batteries, towels, yoga mats and more! Just click the links to the left or in the menu if you are using a phone!

Working for the Man

Famous marathon runner Bill Rodgers once said, “No one who works 40 hours will ever beat me in a marathon.”. I always thought that probably applied to photography as well, thinking nobody who works a full time job will be able to compete in the world of stock photography. This of course was before Getty Images set out to single handedly destroy the stock photo market with predatory pricing combined with the worst royalty percentages in the industry, making a full time job a survival necessity

Now though, forced into working full time in a non related field of expertise, my original premise has become more reality than theory. My head constantly swimming from lack of sleep, problems at work that need solving and overwhelming time constraints. As I suspected so many years ago it is difficult to compete. When the moment comes I am doomed to miss it… I am at work when the awesome sunrises happen, at work when the clouds are at their most amazing, at work when the wildlife make their brief appearance at dawn and dusk and at work when my buddies plan their next mountain summit adventures. Ideas are few and far between as fatigue turns my brain into mush for days and my camera sits dormant in it’s Lowepro backpack for weeks at a time. There are no pictures to process, no adventures to write about and all the while my portfolio grows more and more outdated.

On the other side of the Catch 22 however, without the full time job there would be no money to finance an adventure, no money for a house payment…. no money to sustain life. So there has to be a way, giving up on our dreams just to work full time is unacceptable. I’m thinking the answer may lie in better planning, better time management and planning ahead for opportunities. I can’t wait for that moment when I can finally think clearly to dream up a plan. Ideas come and go and I hope that with some good notes some plans will formulate, maybe at lunchtime or maybe in my dreams at night. Definitely not the optimal situation but maybe it will be just enough for precious progress.

Maybe if I can dig deep enough I will find within the ability to carry on with my writing and photography despite the adversity.I know times are difficult for others trying to realize their dreams in many fields. I wonder if any of my readers are facing similar struggles and what you might be doing to overcome the obstacles of time and fatigue. Thoughts, leave a comment!