Another Stunner

The clouds at the base of the majestic Sangre de Cristo were an incredible scene this morning and I was looking forward to the vista I was going to behold from the summit of the highest mountain on our morning hike. But as it is many times… what actually greeted me as I cleared the ridge was even better that I had hoped πŸ™‚ This awesome herd of deer happened to be standing in perfect position for me to include them in the image with the mountains and the foggy clouds! These mountains never cease to amaze me πŸ™‚ If you look carefully you can see another deer in the shadows of the pine trees and yet another peeking out from the branches to the right. Those might actually be the Collegiate Peaks in the background of this image. From here you can see both mountain ranges and it isn’t that easy to determine where one ends and the other starts!

Mountain Mule Deer

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Snowy Morning in May

Snowy Mine Country

Woke up early this morning. As soon as I could pry my eyes open I took a quick look at my weather app, 27 degrees with snow… perfect! Not going to go out the door with no coffee and frozen waffles though, not going to happen. In the meantime, a look down the valley towards the Sangre de Cristo looked promising. Couldn’t really tell if I was looking at a cloud or a fog bank, but it was nice and I knew I was going to be taking out the camera into the weather!

As the big dog and I wound our way along the mountain road to the trailhead it started

Mule Deer Herd on a Snowy Morning

to snow a little… beautiful dry wispy snowflakes falling down from the sky, kind of like a snow globe πŸ™‚ I was hoping for a good mountain view of the Sangre de Cristo from the summit, but there were too many clouds. Nice clouds though, with a few bursts of snow going on in different places, well worth a couple minutes break in the hikingΒ  for some weather photos!

But that was nothing compared to the treat I encountered in the woods on the way back down! A small herd of mule deer had gathered in the mountain grass at the edge of the aspen forest for their breakfast πŸ™‚ They cast a few curious looks in our direction but mainly just kept eating. Thanks to my big Canon 400mm lens I didn’t have to get too close to get some decent shots. I’m sure with my old 200mm I would have tried to get closer and scared them off. So we shot, they ate and the snow kept falling. I chose ISO 400 in hopes of freezing the snowflakes. I’ve learned that too slow a shutter speed makes for snow streaks instead of snowflakes and that’s no good.

Mule Deer Herd on a Snowy Morning

I really couldn’t see on the display whether or not the snowflakes were visible, but I just kept shooting. I wasn’t going to be able to get a faster shutter speed in that light anyway. However now at home in front of the computer I was in for some pleasant surprises πŸ™‚ One of these shots I thought had two deer in it actually had three with one kind pf peeking around another one and the snowflakes turned out to be just right. Some are just small dots, some of the closer ones turned into surreal looking globes but that’s ok.

I was thinking about boosting the contrast and color in Photoshop but I eventually decided that any special effects betrayed the dreary mood of the scene, and it is that dreary snowy mood that I love and live to get out in and experience! I guess that’s a good thing since life in the Rocky Mountains at 10,000 feet serves up a lot of mornings like that!

As always these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool household, tech and gift items are also available by simply clicking an image you like and scrolling down to the options menu! Sometimes I come across a situation and some captures that are so special to me that I really don’t want to sell them as stock where they sometimes go for peanuts. Such as it is with these, they are only available in print form on my website and not as RF stock on the stock sites. Stay tuned, there are many more of these to come, plus a couple of weather landscapes of the nearby peaks.

 

 

 

 

Exploring Tunnel Drive in Canon City

I finally visited the Royal Gorge this spring for the first time and did some hiking along the Canyon Rim Trail. It was nice way up on the top of the canyon, but what I really want to do is explore the canyon from the bottom! On another failed attempt to do so on mountain bike I discovered a road called Tunnel Road which I was tempted to explore that day but instead opted for the visit to the main park on the canyon rim.

Royal Gorge Passenger Train

Had some stuff to do in Canon City yesterday so I decided to see where Tunnel Drive would take me. At first it didn’t seem very far, I took a wrong turn and wound up at the gate of the public works plant on the upper road. A quick turnaround and right turn back onto Tunnel Drive had me once again headed in the right direction πŸ™‚ I was concerned that the tunnels would be too small to drive my big truck through, or too rough, or too busy… But none of that happened. After a short drive of no more than a mile or two I arrived at a nice little parking lot at the base of a trail called Tunnel Drive Trail… imagine that πŸ™‚

So it turns out that the Tunnel Drive Trail is a nice developed trail head with a restroom

Tunnel Drive Trail at Royal Gorge

providing access to the canyon for families, mountain bikers and hikers. I grabbed my camera backpack and headed up the trail with no idea what I would find. After about a quarter of a mile up a steep concrete path I encountered a series of tunnels and a flat and wide dirt path heading through them and into the canyon high above the ugly brown water of the Arkansas River below. The tunnels were interesting enough for me to do a little research on the history of this trail and I discovered that the tunnels were originally blasted out by convicts as part of a water project. Apparently it was open to auto traffic for a while but now it is for recreation only.

Tunnel Drive Trail at Royal Gorge

The trail now runs about two miles out and back for a total of four miles with mileage markers and numerous benches and picnic tables along the way. There are great views of the Arkansas, canyon walls and the canyon visitor train and tracks snaking their way along the river below. Had I done a little research I would have discovered that this is a nice bike trail and I could have saved myself an hour and a half of walking by just getting my bike out of the back of my truck! If there is a next time I will definitely do this trail on wheels!

My real reason for wanting to get back into the canyon is so that I can do some whitewater rafting photography and I don’t think this trail is going to help me. It is way too far and high above the water for that but from there I did spot some kind of access path along the river bed on the other side. When I get some time I’ll try to figure out how to get on it with my mountain bike, a subject for another blog post!

Sun Drenched Spring Morning

Deer on a Warm Colorado Spring Morning

It’s amazing how fast we go from spring to summer in Colorado… I guess I should say we go from winter to summer, there is no spring here. In fact some say we only have two seasons in the high country, winter and the 4th of July! Never the less.. today it was a glorious spring morning and I’m glad I went out to enjoy it!

By the time I finally got going we were burning daylight and I was worried the animals

Deer on a Warm Colorado Spring Morning

had all gone deep into the woods to rest in the cool shade, but as we cleared the ridge I thought I saw a deer’s ears going on alert as we made our way towards them. Closer inspection revealed that there were three deer peering out from the shade of the tall pines on top of the mountain. Two were in the shade but the third had a bit of light on his face, enough I hoped to get a nice picture! Since it was a bit shady I chose ISO 400 for my speed and exposed for the animal that was in partial sunlight. The other two deer I hoped would make a nice backdrop for the big handsome deer in the light.

Deer on a Warm Colorado Spring Morning

I captured a few more of that group and then made my way down the other side and around the south side of the summit where I thought I might get another view. Unfortunately I didn’t get the closeup I was hoping for but I did get a nice shot of them on the mountain top making their way towards the cool shade of the wilderness.

As always, these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.Β  Tons of cool gift household, tech, apparel and gift items are available as well! Just click on an image you like and the menu will appear!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Winter Really Over?

Elk in Fresh Rocky Mountain May Snow

Three days of snow in May and the storm clouds have finally dispersed. A beautiful hike through the fresh snow in the back country and I’m wondering if we will finally be able to say goodbye to Old Man Winter for the season! I guess the elk were probably hoping for the same… when we cleared the ridge I saw them basking in the morning sun that we haven’t seen for days πŸ™‚

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak Colorado

 

 

Winter Storm in May

Was looking forward to a couple of days of photography in the pleasant Rocky Mountain springtime weather… until I looked at the forecast. Snow starting today and continuing all day tomorrow! Figured whatever hiking I was to get in was going to have to be early today and then that is going to be it until next week 😦 So the plan was set… off to Woodland Park for supplies and the rain forest trails on the north side of the high walls of Ute Pass.

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak Colorado

As we crested Victor Pass I could see that the weather was already in full swing on Pikes Peak with fresh snow on the summit and storm clouds and fog rolling in. It was a beautiful scene though, made all the better with a circular polarizer on my 100-400 Canon Zoom.

When I neared my intended trailhead in Woodland I could see that as hoped,Β  there were mule deer running around all over the place πŸ™‚ Me and the big dog dismounted my blue Dodge and headed into the pungent atmosphere of the beautiful springtime wilderness. It wasn’t long before I spotted a herd of deer, unfortunately they also spotted us. They quickly moved away from the trail, but stopped a few yards into the woods to see if we were actually going to pursue them. When they discovered we weren’t they just stopped andΒ  and kept a wary eye upon us. One of them I see is a buck just starting to grow antlers for his battles in the autumn rut!

Wilderness Mule Deer

I snapped a bunch of those guys… due to the dark gray clouds above I was forced to use ISO 400 which I would rather not have to do at a distance. I’m really happier with the detail I capture at ISO 200, but I figured I was going to need at least a 200th of a second for a clear picture!

It wasn’t long before I started to see snow flakes beginning to fly so I had to cut the hike short and finish the supply run. Now the snow is falling steadily but we are back home safe and sound ready to just watch the snow action from in front of my computer screen!

Wilderness Mule Deer

Deer Mountain

Herd of Deer on the Mountainside

If this good fortune keeps up I think I’m going to rename this mountain… Deer Mountain sounds like a good name!Β  When we began our climb these ladies were in the shade so I didn’t even know they were there until I was halfway up the hillside. Finally though the light and my angle changed and there they were! It was about 40 degrees by then, the sun shining, just a perfect place to stop and take a few pictures. Big Dog was content trying to dig to China in some holes that the ground squirrels had made.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words… a time like this πŸ™‚ My words just can’t adequately describe this amazing moment in time, so I’ll just let the pictures do it for me.

Herd of Deer on the Mountainside