Eleven Mile Canyon

Eleven Mile Canyon

The headwaters of the South Platte River, Eleven Mile Canyon, truly one of Colorado’s hidden gems. Finally made it after 10 years of effort 🙂 Almost made it last week but for one wrong turn that led me out onto the road from hell down to Eleven Mile Reservoir State Park 😦 But finally after two unintentional scouting runs I actually figured out the intricacies on finding the right road 🙂 The secret is to stay on Road 96 through Lake George which appears to go straight but actually veers to the right across the river.

Probably for the best to keep the ubiquitous Colorado riff raff and homeless pot heads out, the canyon is a fee area with a ranger station at the entrance to the park. After 8 a.m. there is a ranger there, but if you need to get in earlier there earlier  you can pull an envelope out of the self help dispenser and insert your $7 before continuing your journey.

Eleven Mile Canyon Deer

The dirt road along the river is fairly well maintained although the washboards did rattle my old Dodge truck pretty good in places! The trip is well worth it though with stunningly beautiful scenery, wildlife, campgrounds, picnic areas and some wildlife. Shortly after my journey began I spotted these beautiful mule deer heading back into the wilderness following a nice drink at the river. Had to quick put my big white lens back on and sneak past an embankment to get a decent shot of these ladies, but I thin it was well worth the effort 🙂 I need to get back at sunrise someday, I’m sure there must be a ton of wildlife that I didn’t have the opportunity to view due to being there in the middle of the heat of a Colorado summer day.

I didn’t check to see exactly how long the road is back to the dead end at the dam, but I would estimate about 7 miles of roaring whitewater, beaver dams, placid trout fishing pools and massive rock cliffs made of gigantic boulders the size of houses! About half way in I encountered the road to Wagon Tongue that I didn’t want to take my truck on last week, along with trails and short roads leading to campgrounds and picnic areas all along the way.

The road is quite narrow but there are plenty of pull outs where you can stop to take pictures, hike down to the riverbed and get out your trout fishing gear if that is your thing. I must have stopped a dozen times to take pictures of the magnificent roaring water and cliffs.

At one point I knew that a still photograph wasn’t going to do the trick so I did something I have never done before. I have owned this camera for over four years and I have never shot a video with it… And this was the time to try it out! The video lever on the back of my Canon 70D was a bit sticky having never been switched a single time in the entire years I have owned it, but I finally got it wrangled into the video position and was ready to go. A look through the view finder yielded nothing but darkness and panic 😦 Until I remembered that in order to shoot video the camera has to lock up the mirror to make the sensor available for uninterrupted video streaming. So I quickly flipped open the LCD viewfinder on the back and there it was… video on my still camera! Obviously this is not the most professional video you have ever seen, but at least you can experience the roaring whitewater that I was hearing and seeing  🙂

Eleven Mile Canyon

Finally I reached the end of the road at the dam entrance and turned around. I saw a couple of scenes on the return trip worth additional stops before finally reaching the end of the canyon. There was a photographer there with a big lens, so of course I had to get out and see what the interest was and there was an eagle nesting across the river. I may try to process that image with some hefty cropping, but  at first glance the bird was way to far away for a decent photograph, even with my 400mm zoom.

I highly recommend this day trip to Lake George. The scenery is stunning and there is nothing like a day spent in the beauty of God’s Creation! As always, these images and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic and metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of gift items, apparel, tech gear and more area also available with a beautiful #swkrullimaging picture!

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The Fawns

Mama Deer and Fawns

Today’s trek turned out to be extra special due to a rare fawn sighting 🙂 As I neared the turnaround point in the out and back part of the trail I saw movement in the mountain grass. At first I thought it was going to be a fox or maybe a coyote but as I looked through my long glass I discovered that it was a little fawn mule deer. Soon a second baby appeared followed by the mama who immediately spotted me and stopped for a long suspicious stare. The babies soon gathered  close to their mother for protection and joined the vigil. Eventually they decided that I was not threat  and continued along their way as I hid behind a tree using a branch to steady the camera. I stayed until they were out of sight, capturing this cute scene of the two little ones in tow 🙂

Mama Deer and Fawns

I love springtime in the mountains with all the new life and it is my sincere hope that through my pictures others will come to appreciate life in all it’s precious beauty and fragility and gain an understanding of the importance of preserving it for future generations to enjoy.

 

Eleven Mile Canyon Fiasco V2

Go to Eleven Mile Canyon they say… “It will be fun!” 😦 So I’ve been thinking about Eleven Mile Canyon for six years now. Tried to go one other time on a whim, went past a sign near Florissant that said Eleven Mile Reservoir. After a few miles of horrendous washboard dirt road and ugly Pike National Forest desert wilderness I finally gave up. Came to a sign pointing back to Florissant so I just took that turn for a few more miles of teeth rattling, shock absorber busting washboard road 😦

Today’s plan was much better. Using Google Maps I located the correct turn off of highway 24, which was actually in Lake George. Sure enough, Forest Service signs pointing to Eleven Mile Canyon on CR 96 and the promise of miles of pristine flowing water of the South Platte Headwaters. Unfortunately if you stay on CR 96 it just becomes CR 244 which leads to the same butt busting washboard roads that the one from Florissant leads to with no pristine flowing river in sight anywhere 😦

Herd of Mule Deer Bucks

Eventually I did see a sign at a turnoff that said “Eleven Mile Canyon” 5 miles. Took the turn and saw another sign with little pictures of a dirt bike, an ATV and a Jeep. Stopped short and looked over the single lane Jeep road and decided to call it a day. I knew I had to be getting close to Guffy though so I just kept going on the road I was on hoping for imminent delivery onto the paved 112.

A couple of miles later I came to a T in the road, one way to the reservoir and the other to Guffy.  I did actually drive the two miles west to make it to the reservoir this time and managed to get this picture without having to pay to get into the state park, which by this time I was in no mood for 😐

Eleven Mile Reservoir in Summer

As a bonus I saw the above nice looking buck mule deer hanging out in the wilderness of the Pike National Forest. He had a couple buddies but they quickly talked it over and decided I wasn’t a welcome addition to their little club and took off. I got a few shots of them running away but nothing worth bothering to process in Photoshop.

Now that I’m home looking at the map more closely I can see the error of my ways and may give it another shot some day.

Buck Ridge

Herd of Mule Deer on the Ridge

This morning’s award came early in the trek. Just as we rounded our first switch back I saw a small herd of deer on top of the ridge. Unfortunately they had already detected our advance up the hill and were on high alert. So I had no choice but to just stop right there and try to get a few shots in the distance. I was pretty sure that if I waited for the second switchback in the rugged trail that the majestic beasts would be gone.

As I looked in the viewfinder through my long lens at first I thought maybe the big guy was  a moose, I could only hope! But now looking at the images on the computer monitor I can see what I was looking at was the big mule deer buck’s ears against his recently sprouting antlers.

Big Buck Mule Deer on the Ridge

The rest of the hike proved unproductive as far as photography goes, but we still got some good exercise and the experience of peace that can only be found in the solitude of the wilderness 🙂

I only put the one image up for sale on my website this time… other’s will be for sale as stock but unfortunately the rest I don’t feel are print worthy.

One Deer and Wildflowers

Deer in the Rockies

Pretty quiet morning on the trail… Saw one lone deer peering back at me from a field of wildflowers and rocks. We were far enough away so as to not cause any alarm and were able to get this nice shot 🙂 No more wildlife was seen on the trek, but there are a lot of nice wildflowers blooming. Don’t know what these yellow ones actually are, I’m no flora and fauna expert for sure… but they look nice and make for some nice pictures 🙂

Also got to try out my AllTrails.com hike logger on my new Verizon phone. It’s only a

Mountain Wildflowers

Samsung J3 but I like it OK. Was extremely disappointed with my previous phone that didn’t work at all in the mountains. So I successfully recorded today’s hike and was rewarded with a cool map and elevation profile. Haven’t figured out how to share it yet though… maybe the information will only be for myself. But still pretty cool even though I’m not sure what it is going to be good for 🙂

As always these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas or traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift, tech, apparel and household items are also available with a #swkrullimaging picture!

Mountain Wildflowers

 

Summer Struggle

Elk in Fresh Snow

Summer is the worst time of the year for my wildlife and landscape photography. I work so late and the sun rises so early that’s it is almost impossible to get out for a sunrise session. Later in the morning the sun beating down from straight overhead pretty much washes all the color out of a scene and the animals are all avoiding the heat of the day hiding deep in  the forest.

I try to make the best of it though, I still have hundreds images that I have flagged for upload to the stock agencies that are still waiting patiently on my hard drive for some attention! This image was one from the day after our huge “bomb cyclone” blizzard. I still remember this day, the elk had gathered near the summit where the snow had mostly blown away and access to the mountain grass easiest. There were about a dozen that I have uploaded to stock including this one. Don’t think I will put them on my website website as prints though, I have similar images already for sale there in the “elk” gallery.

Elk in the Sunshine

These elk appear to be having a relaxing morning! I saw them grazing on the mountain

Elk Herd in the Wilderness

grass near the edge of the dense pine forest. For some reason they saw me but did not retreat into the safety of the trees, but slowly walked along the edge of the wilderness while I snapped away using my big 400mm Canon lens. Usually they disappear like ghosts into the forest the moment they spot me. This was my favorite one with the rugged snow capped Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the background  🙂

Elk Herd and the Sangre de Cristo

As always, this image and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Cool household, tech and gift items are also available with #swkrullimaging artwork on them! Click the link if you want to see more!