Hiking Ann-Marie Falls Colorado

wp-15909461786523841634482648751622.jpgThe most difficult part of hiking the beautiful Anne-Marie Falls Trail on Pikes Peak Colorado may be finding it in the first place! I have long wanted to experience this trail and finally today I was able to fulfill that wish 🙂 Today is a Sunday so photo buddy Kevin and I met at 7:00 a.m. so we could beat the weekend crowds sure to gather on the Colorado Front Range Trails. Even after diligently studying the trail maps we weren’t too sure of the exact location of the trailhead so I loaded the trail into my Alltrails app and turned on the direction finder. We journeyed down the four mile dirt road on the west side of the peak marked as the turnoff to the

Beaver Ponds on the Anne-Marie Trail

famous Crags Trail. As we passed a blocked gate on the road about a mile past the Crags Trail parking lot, the magic electronic GPS finder announced the trail on the left which didn’t jive with the narrative so we just kept driving.

Finally at the end of the Crags road there was a small parking lot and a well marked trailhead with a large map on a sign. We donned our backpacks loaded with camera gear and headed down the trail. The first mile or so was a pretty tough ascent on well maintained trail, but with a couple of breaks and a little Gatorade the climb wasn’t too difficult. The beautiful trail wound it’s way through majestic old pine forest amidst birds chirping happily from the tall pines overhead.

Wilson's Warbler

Finally we began a long descent which culminated in a clearing featuring a picturesque beaver pond which of course we had to check out extensively! We walked most of the way around, occasionally having to take some care not to sink too deeply in the marsh surrounding the pond 🙂 After capturing the scenery with our wide angle lenses and shooting a couple portraits we came across a colorful cheery Wilson’s Warbler that flitted around us striking all manner of nice poses for a photographer to appreciate 🙂

Eventually we decided to continue on in search of the falls, for which we had not seen a single directional sign. We walked back to the trail where we debated returning the way we came,  continuing on or exploring a totally unmarked poorly maintained trail leading towards the southwest and

Wilson's Warbler

Sentinel Point in the distance. It was here that my practice of recording the hikes onto my Alltrails profile proved to be quite advantageous! A quick check of my phone screen revealed our location at the beaver pond and a stretch of unfinished trail leading in the direction of the faint trail along the creek flowing out of the south end of the placid water of the dammed pond.

We opted to continue down in search of the falls where soon we heard the babbling of rushing water.  With some indication of success, we were inspired to continue in the direction of the encouraging sound where before long we found the tiniest of waterfalls. Perhaps during the snow melt this might be an impressive falls but in the early summer it is just the pleasant trickle of a beautiful pristine mountain stream. Here I snapped a few pictures of the falls and the tranquil calm spot at the base of the diminutive waterfall.

Anne-Marie Falls

After a nice break we headed back up the trail to the junction where the GPS indicated the possibility of a loop that might cut some distance and a long climb up the steep ridge! We began walking up the alternate route where I checked our location occasionally and indeed we did find ourselves successfully closing in on our final destination without having to climb the ridge again! Eventually we found ourselves on Forest Road 383 which ended at a blocked gate, the place where the direction finder first indicated a trailhead about a half mile down from the parking lot and the main trail marker.

Speaking of GPS, I highly recommend hikers on obscure trails in the Pike National Forest have some kind of direction finder. There are unmarked trails and jeep roads going everywhere and without some high tech assistance it would be quite easy to head off in the wrong direction and turn a beautiful day into a trying experience.

As always, these pictures and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and tech gifts are also available including the newly added Covid masks! You can also purchase apparel, coffee mugs, battery chargers, phone cases, blankets and pillows and much more!

Anne-Marie Falls

 

Why Plant Based Meat Substitute

Many have been asking me why all of a sudden I have started eating plant based meat substitutes. For quite a few years now I have been disturbed by the many reports of ranchers teaming up with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in our western states to kill off all kinds of wildlife, including our beloved wolves, bears and wild horses so that their precious cattle won’t have any competition on public lands. I of course am an avid user of our national forest land with all it’s beautiful mountains and trails. I think it is appalling that the ranchers get to graze their cattle on public lands, their cattle make a mess out of the land and the trails for everyone else and on top of all that the welfare ranchers as I call them get all upset when a wild animal takes one of their stock.

Free Range Cattle

Of course what the ranchers and the BLM keep hidden is the fact, according to this article by Wild Earth Guardians and many others, that less than one quarter of one percent of livestock is killed by predators, that’s 0.23%. And most western states even reimburse the ranchers for their losses, which is why they don’t even bother to try to find non-lethal methods to coexist with the wildlife. There isn’t much reporting in the lame stream media about it so it isn’t well known that the BLM regularly rounds up our wild horses with helicopters who dare live on public land, frequently causing horrific injury and even running them to death in their effort to corral them for slaughter and sale to foreign countries including Mexico, just to please the welfare ranchers and their interests. Wolves,  coyotes and mountain lions are trapped, poisoned and killed in all manner of inhumane and torturous methods that should be illegal in civilized society.

That doesn’t even begin to address the horrific way the livestock is treated, just read this article by the Washington Post… If you can bear to, I assure you that if you do you will never look at your steak the same again.

I had kind of resolved to come up with something tangible I could do to help conserve our precious wildlife when I retired from full time employment but up until now I hadn’t really found anything I could do besides write about it.  Well when the Covid-19 virus hit there were reports that with the restaurants all closed the ranchers were really struggling which of course didn’t hurt my feelings at all.

Then as the news media began warning of meat shortages, a story I had seen about plant based meat came to mind… Why should I worry about a meat shortage if I can find a suitable substitute? It wasn’t hard to find, Walmart and Safeway both carry several brands so decided to try it and went out to purchase some. When I opened the package I was surprised to find that the patties and sausages look just like real meat. Throw it on the grill for 8-10  minutes and you have yourself a decent meal! And much to my surprise they are actually pretty good! And you can even feel good that you are eating something good for your health!

Now I have a way to fight back against the meat industry, I don’t have to purchase their products. If enough of us who care follow suit we can put the meat industry out of business. No longer will there be any reason to slaughter our wildlife, no reason to subject millions of domestic animals to a dreadful life of confinement and abuse at the slaughter houses. Our national forests can once again be sanctuaries for our cherished wildlife and pristine wilderness for the enjoyment of visitors for generations to come. I urge you, please give the plant based meat a try, the furry critters are depending on you!

I of course will continue to look for other more direct ways to help conserve our wildlife, but in the meantime this is a good start that I can feel good about.

Some Tranquility

Tabby Cat

This morning my eyes were wide open well before sunrise so I arose and turned on  the news which of course was all bad. Disease, murder and now riots everywhere. I watched  the local news for a while just to see what had transpired up in Denver yesterday.  I’m a morning person and not much is going to stop me from enjoying my coffee but by the time I could see the first rays of sunlight poking through the curtains I was ready to spend some quality time on my mountain. After yesterday’s long hike in the Crags I was intending to take a day off, but I just had to go experience the tranquility of the early morning Colorado mountain sunshine.

As I pulled my old Dodge into the trailhead parking area my eyes scanned the top of the ridge

Prairie Dog

hoping to spot some deer or elk but all I could see was sunshine and mountain grass. I just sat in the truck for a while enjoying the warmth of the sun through my cracked windshield, listening to the birds and enjoying a moment of peace.

Finally I began the trek to the top of the ridge, my legs tired and sore from yesterdays adventure. There was no sign of life save for the sound of the birds, chirping out their happiness at the sun drenched mountain morning. I slowly meandered over the ridge and onto the high clearing where I pondered the events of

Free Range Cattle

these troubled times. I was thinking, maybe these riots were inevitable, really what did these blue state dictators think was going to happen, keeping people locked in their homes for months at a time. I know it is important to stop the spread of Covid-19 but did they really think they could keep the entire population imprisoned, as they watch their livelihood slowly going down the drain, their jobs vanishing, their hopes and plans for the future destroyed by a few leaders who will never have to suffer the real word effects of their policies. Perhaps the

Cottontail Rabbit

murder in Minneapolis was the straw that broke the camels back, the catalyst to unleash the pent up anger and frustration in cities all over America at the prolonged isolation and the destruction of a whole way of life for many. I pray that God will give our leaders the wisdom to resolve these problems peacefully and that life will soon return to normal. I used to follow my morning adventures with a nice breakfast somewhere and now there is nothing open. Nothing else to do but just go back home, unless of course I can find some errands to run.

Eventually the sun cleared the ridge on the east and I could hear the prairie dogs beginning to stir so I made my way down the mountain and into their little colony where I found a log to rest my weary legs and watch the action. One of the little fellows finally worked up the courage to poke his head out and chirp at me so I was able to at least get one picture to put in  this morning’s blog!

It wasn’t long before I heard the bellow of free range cattle who came trotting over the

Distant Deer

top of the mountain on their way to the watering hole below. Free range cattle are a bit wild and when they noticed me they hurried on past, casting a wary eye in my direction. When they all finally passed I arose and began the final leg of my trek back to the trailhead. Along the way I saw a feral tabby cat, a bunny rabbit and a pair of bucks in the distance grazing on mountain grass as they too made their way towards the watering hole.

Eventually my morning peace was at an end, but I felt sufficiently rejuvenated to face the day. My big plans today mostly include grilling the rest of my plant based burgers and sausages as I do my part to put all the beef producers out of business so there will be no reason for them to exterminate all the wolves and wild horses.

 

 

 

Awesome Day on the Crags Trail

wp-15906917194317936377850603572725.jpgIt has been four years since I have hiked the Crags Trail so I was very much looking forward to it! The trail is located on Highway 67 on the west side of magnificent Pikes Peak Colorado about three miles into the Pike National Forest on a rough dirt road. I have to say, the road is a bit longer than I remember but on the upside it is pretty well maintained for a Colorado mountain road!

Crags Trail Scenery

Hiking buddy Kevin and I arrived at the trailhead at about 7:00 this morning… a bit chilly but we were ready to hike! The first half mile or so is up a pretty rigorous hill that definitely got the blood pumping! Once you get over the initial hump the trail levels out to a gently sloping uphill path along Four Mile Creek, which was running gently through the woods this time of year.

I was hoping to see some larger animals feeding and watering along the creek that early

Crags Trail Scenery

in the morning but all we saw were a few birds. The choke cherries aren’t in bloom yet so the birds were all high in the pines eating pine nuts I suppose. At about two miles in, the trail begins a steep ascent to the high point of the hike. We had some fun with a Gray Jay, also known as “camp robber”, about halfway up the climb… snapping a few pictures as the little critter checked us out, no doubt looking for a handout or for something to steal from us! One of those little buggers actually stole a Power Bar right out of one of my running buddy’s hand on one trek up the Barr Trail!

Crags Trail Scenery

Eventually we closed in on the slippery gravely summit area where there was a fabulous view of the three reservoirs, North and South Catamount and Crystal Reservoir to the east and a bird’s eye view of the Crags valley to the west. From there you can see all the way to Mount Evans and maybe even Longs Peak to the north, and the Mosquito Range to the west.

After a rest and a quick lunch we headed back down the steep descent to the long trail

Steller's Jay also know as a camp robber

back to the bottom of the valley. For a while it looked like all we were going to get pictures of was the mountainous area at the top, when all of a sudden we were visited by a couple more Gray Jays who spent enough time with us to get a few nice bird portraits 🙂

I highly recommend this trail if you are in sufficient condition for a five plus mile trek in the mountains. I’d suggest getting there early in the nice weather months as this is a fairly heavily used trail.

As always, these pictures and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and tech gifts are also available including the newly added Covid masks! You can also purchase apparel, coffee mugs, battery chargers, phone cases, blankets and pillows and much more!

Winter in May

Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

It was definitely winter when I was loading my camera equipment into the truck for my hike on the mountain today! Yesterday afternoon a cold front came through and we got snow, hail, thunder, lightning and wind! This morning the ice was all still present and it took me about 15 minutes just to scrape out a place to see through the windshield!

It was also winter when I started my hike through the fresh snow at 11,000 feet. The

Baby Prairie Dog

wind was blowing and I was glad I had a hood on my jacket, which I quickly pulled over my frozen and aching ears. Eventually I cleared the ridge and thankfully the wind subsided. The Sangre de Cristo range soon came into view in all it’s glory, still sporting storm clouds from yesterdays weather. I stopped there for a while to take in the sound of the wind blowing in the tall pines and the chirping of happy song birds, and of course to capture a few images of the magnificent snow capped peaks.

By now the it was warming up quickly and spring had returned to the Rocky Mountains. The prairie dogs were chirping out their happiness to see the sunshine and luckily for me this one little fellow stuck around long enough for me to get his picture. I moved around to the sunny side while he warily kept a little black eye on my movement. I was able to get two captures before the diminutive creature retreated back into his den.

 

The Next Lockdown

Cottonwood Lake Colorado

This Memorial Day weekend I am thankful that I live in a state with relatively few people so there is ample opportunity for me to get out in the Rocky Mountain wilderness, well away from people and the worries of the Covid-19 virus. So far this weekend I was able to have a wonderful visit to the Collegiate Peaks and Mosquito Range mountains near Leadville and Buena Vista with my photo buddy Kevin, a nice hike through the woods in the wp-15903528734408372567264817863598.jpgFlorissant Fossil Beds National Monument and another enjoyable hike on my favorite mountain in the Pike National Forest

The highlight of our 6 mile hike on the Twin Rocks Trail through the Fossil Beds was the pond at the halfway point with a couple of red wing blackbirds, a

Hummingbird in the Reeds by #swkrullimaging

humming bird and a chipmunk. We of course were hoping for elk or a bear but the little critters were all we were blessed with. Good photography practice for sure though! One of the things I finally learned how to do was record and share my hike with my Alltrails app! I’ve been a member for many years, logging over one thousand trails in my profile, but never bothering to learn how to record my progress 😦

Rocky Mountain Whitewater

Our first stop on the Collegiate Peaks trip was at stunningly beautiful Cottonwood Lake on Cottonwood Pass Road where we found mirror like water reflecting the rugged terrain surrounding the lake and the snow capped mountains of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness in the background. The cliffs on the north side of the lake are known for their abundance of bighorn sheep and mountain goats which were our intended target of the day but unfortunately the elusive animals decided not to show themselves. We did however have a nice time exploring the lake and photographing the magnificent scenery. On the way back down to

Steve Krull at Denny Creek

the road we saw a cute mule deer and stopped to photograph the rushing water of the stream flowing out of the lake through the dense pines of the San Isabel National Forest.

We had hoped to drive all the way to the top of Cottonwood Pass to see the Continental Divide but unfortunately the road was closed at the Denny Creek Trailhead so we just stopped there for a break and to photograph the creek roaring down to meet Cottonwood Creek. Many thanks to Kevin for shooting this awesome picture of me beside the creek!

Mosquito Range and Turquois Lake

Kevin had never been, so once we had seen enough of Cottonwood Pass we turned north to see the sights in the historic mining town of Leadville. From my Leadville 100 running days I remembered the Golden Burro Cafe so we drove through town hoping it was still open. We were in luck, the place was still there and even though the lockdown was ongoing for restaurants in Colorado they were open for takeout. As we waited we discussed the fate of the town during the virus with the hostess and she informed us everything was cancelled, the 100 mile race, Boom Days, everything that makes summer fun in Leadville. The Burro has a great breakfast takeout deal going on if you happen to journey to Leadville, five dollars for several awesome breakfast dishes, and I enjoyed immensely the green chili breakfast burrito 🙂

Stilted Sandpiper on Twin Lakes

Next stop was the Twin Lakes recreation area where we photographed some more mountains reflecting in the water and a cute sandpiper trotting along the shoreline looking for food. Our last highlight of the day was a few pronghorn antelope in the high prairie near Spinney Reservoir. In addition to the still images I also have some footage of the roaring whitewater and I have created a YouTube video of this adventure set to inspiring music! Visit and subscribe if you like for a few minutes of blessed relaxation during these stressful times!

Yesterday and today I spent alone, hiking my regular trails in the Pike National Forest near Woodland Park and Cripple Creek. I saw my favorite little deer herd just as  they were  preparing to settle down for their morning nap, so of

Sleepy Deer Herd

course I had to stop and snap a few pictures of that process. They were some distance away, but that didn’t stop them from casting a few wary stares in my direction! Later I spotted a prairie dog so I sat down on a log for a few minutes and sure enough after a while he stuck his head out of his den to yell something at me in prairie dog language before scampering back to safety… but not before I was able to capture a couple of frames though 🙂

All the years I have been hiking there I have been eyeing a hollow stump… wondering if I

Prairie Dog

could frame a landscape of the distant Sangre de Cristo Mountains through it. However, the first time I went there this spring after my long recovery from surgery I noticed it was no longer there. Just my luck… three years of wanting to photograph it and the minute I’m ready it’s gone!  Well I  got to thinking, maybe the heavy snow this year had rolled it down the hill? So as I walked past I looked in vain for an upended tree stump. Finally, just as I thought I was too far I noticed a real tree stump sticking up out of the ground and I thought, could it be? I hiked on down to take a look and I’ll be darned if it hadn’t righted itself and was now disguised as a bonafide tree stump instead of a picture frame! Unfortunately I didn’t have the right lens along so I wasn’t able to get the stump in focus with my long lens, but I am now determined to make my way back up there with my wide angle and capture that long anticipated shot.

Mule Deer in the Woods

On the remainder of my trek my thoughts turned to the terrible events of this year and for some reason the wicked grin on the face of that Michigan governor, Witless or whatever her name is stuck in my head as she gleefully announced that the lockdown would continue, as if she were getting a kick out of punishing naughty children. First the lockdown was to be a month or so to flatten the curve, then weeks turned into months as the goalposts were moved by politicians and unelected medical professionals to include new objectives, and now we are hearing in some places that the lockdown may continue until there is a vaccine, which may never come.

Pronghorn Antelope on the High PrairieOn the weekend that we celebrate the sacrifice of the brave men and women who have fought and died to preserve our God given freedom, I thought… how easily we gave it all up and dutifully retreated to our own private little prisons, and how easily we were tricked into believing that our leaders would keep their word and end our incarceration when we had “flattened the curve”. How easy it was for the politicians to virtually suspend the constitution and discard our “inalienable rights” without even a vote from congress. I know we did it for good reason and we have no idea how many lives may have been saved as a result, but I also know we have not even begun to understand the cost. I am disturbed by how much some officials seem to be enjoying their newly found power and I can’t help but think all this is not lost upon those who value power over freedom and would love for this to become permanent.

Tranquil Pond

How long will it be before the AOC’s and the Newsome’s of the world decide that there needs to be a climate change lockdown until the “temperature emergency” is resolved… if ever. I have heard of quarantine facilities where the Covid-19 victims can go to wait out their illness… “all voluntary” of course. In the next lockdown will climate deniers be sent to re-education facilities? Will they take away our cars, shut down the airlines and dismantle the oil refineries? They don’t seem to care that they are destroying the livelihood and businesses of millions of citizens now, I’m sure there are those who won’t mind enslaving us in the future.

On this memorial day I fear that we are only one vote away from the end of this glorious republic. I hope our experience with this virus has taught us how fragile our freedom really is. We may pass the point of no return if we ever allow this to happen again. We can never let this happen again.

Chipmunk on a Rock

 

 

 

Hiking the Limber Pines Trail

Spectacular Pikes Peak View

If you want beautiful views of Pikes Peak and a brisk three mile hike in the mountains, the Limber Pines / Ring the Peak loop in Catamount Ranch just west of Woodland Park, Colorado might be just the ticket. If you are planning to go on the weekend I recommend getting there early, probably well before 8:00 a.m. To get there take highway 24 west from Woodland Park and just at the top of the hill past the hospital start looking for Edlowe Road on the south side. From there take Edlowe Road all the way to the end where you will see a small parking lot.

To start the loop just head up the trail and a steep hill to the trail map sign and a fence. Go

North Catamount Reservoir

through the wide gate and you will find yourself on a trail that goes left and right. It is the Limber Pines trail that is the start of the 2.8 mile loop. If you go right you will be on a beautiful forest trail that switchbacks down to the dirt road that is the Ring the Peak trail. Be sure to look towards the east for views of Pikes Peak as you make your descent towards the reservoir. Y

Take a left here and you will walk the road towards and the along North Catamount Reservoir where the road finally leaves the reservoir and begins a

Spectacular Pikes Peak View

long ascent up to the top of the ridge. There are some fantastic views of the peak and a beautiful mix of aspen and pine forest along the way. Finally you will find yourself near the top of the climb at which time you will want to be looking for a trail sign which marks the other end of the Limber Pines Trail. From there it is a short walk back to the gate where your hike began.

If you decide to go the other way, obviously you will be walking down the dirt Ring the Peak road past the reservoir where you will need to be looking for the trail sign and the ascent on the Limber Pines Trail back to the starting point. Be sure to bring plenty of liquids to drink, the trail is only 2.8 miles but the ascents can be strenuous for those not acclimated to the elevation.

Spectacular Pikes Peak View

Evolving Shooting Philosophy

Sunrise Mule Deer Bucks

You may remember that I had finally settled on the settings that I was going to include as part of my custom modes on the mode dial on my Canon camera. Well those settings were blown apart yesterday morning. I had settled on Aperture Priority set to F8, Auto ISO capped at 3200, exposure compensation +1… and a new setting that I found in the auto ISO menu section that allows a photographer to boost shooting priority to a faster shutter speed which I decided upon because of the difficulty dealing with the massive pixel density of the 90D. I boosted that to the maximum value of three stops in hopes of avoiding slow shutter speeds in low light that might not be sufficient to overcome camera and subject movement.

All was well and good shooting in the low pre-dawn light of the mountain mornings and

Mule deer bucks in the early morning sun

in the persistent overcast conditions that we’ve been experiencing as of late. Enter the sun… yesterday was a beautiful brilliant sunny morning and there were deer everywhere! I shot well into the morning as the sun rose higher in the sky. It was definitely brighter, no where near the harshness of the mid day sun but bright enough for me to want to recheck my settings and exposure values. Well it turns out my camera was still shooting at ISO 3200 with shutter speeds of a 2500th and even faster!

Sunrise Mule Deer Bucks

There is no way that I am going to need a shutter speed of 1/2500 of a second to shoot deer in bright light that are mostly standing still looking at me! Even if you consider eliminating camera shake, using the rule of reciprocal with a focal length of 400mm and a crop sensor, your starting point would be a 540th of a second. I double that speed these days to account for the amazing pixel density that modern cameras are capable of so the next increment using that theory would be 1250th on my camera with my settings. Back in the day I used to shoot bike races at 1000th of a second and those riders were flying!

Sunrise Mule Deer Bucks

So I pondered that problem for a while and realized that is was just not going to be feasible to allow the camera to guess at what I would like for shutter and aperture values. The only way to solve the problem would  be to use manual mode for the shutter and aperture. I’ve already decided that with my 100-400 meter lens, the optimum aperture for wildlife photography is F8. Starting with the resulting 1250th benchmark factoring for camera shake, I compensated for the two stop image stabilization available on my lens and dialed back to an 800th of a second, plenty fast enough to capture any action my docile deer friends might be engaged in. I’m happy with the +1 exposure compensation I’ve been using to achieve ETTR exposures and optimize the signal to noise ratio.

The only exposure value I’m going to allow to float is the ISO. I previously had it capped at 3200 but I have removed that allowing the camera to go all the way to 25600. The reasoning behind that is if I have to unexpectedly leap out of my truck and grab a shot in a hurry without having time to mess with settings, at least I’ll get some kind of properly exposed shot… it may be noisy but I will at least capture something to mark the moment to put on Instagram!

Fortunately I was able to test out my new c1 setting today and I’m pretty darned happy with the results! I got some pre-sunrise shots followed by some captures in light similar to what I experienced yesterday. I purposely did not mess with the c1 settings so as to make sure to test my expectations. On a normal day I might decide to use c1 as a starting point and make adjustments to my shutter speed based on changing conditions and subject activity. Hope you enjoy these captures of my friends the “Three Amigos” 🙂

Eleven Mile in Springtime

Springtime in Eleven Mile Canyon

I’ve been wondering for a while if Eleven Mile Canyon was closed for the Corona Virus and today I couldn’t stand it any longer. It was a beautiful sunny morning in southern Colorado and it would be a splendid morning to spend along the pristine headwaters of the South Platte River if I were fortunate to find it open. As I neared the entrance my optimism was growing… no big nasty CLOSED signs in sight! I arrived before the attendant unfortunately because I only had a ten dollar bill to pay the seven dollar entrance fee. Oh well… an extra three dollar donation for the park is a small price to pay for such splendor.

Along with me were my heavy tripod and four stop ND filter, but the water wasn’t

Springtime in Eleven Mile Canyon

roaring as I expected so no long exposures with smooth water. There were some rapids, but not really anything worth getting out the four stop for. I drove slowly along the banks of the river looking for the most scenic spots but some of the best places were still in the shade and I was thinking that I would catch them on the return trip when the light was better. I explored some new locations and some new trails along with some fairly sketchy river bank access points. Saw some deer, some ducks a few geese and finally just as I was about to leave the park I spotted an eagles nest in the distance.

Bald eagle and her chick

This was  going to be worth a closer look so I parked Big Blue and attached the long lens to the camera to get a birds eye view… so to speak. Much to my surprise, there was a bald eagle on the nest with one chick occasionally popping his little head up to look around.  The nest was a long way away though so I knew I was going to have to exercise some extraordinary care if I was going to get any kind of a usable picture. First I attached the 1.4 lens extender and the 100-400 lens to the camera and placed them on the tripod. Once I had that equipment set up it became clear that I was also going to need my shutter release cable in order to avoid camera shake when pushing the shutter button.

I also decided to use Live View with the extra zoom capability to accomplish the best Bald Eagle Nestingpossible manual focus and to lock up the mirror to avoid even the slightest vibration from mirror slap. The mama eagle moved around in the nest a bit, looking in every direction, something I would not have really been able to see at the extreme distance I had to settle for. There was no way to get closer with the river flowing in front of me so this is the best I could do! I was hoping mama would take flight so I watched the action for about an hour before giving up. Obviously I do not have the patience of a successful birder 😦

As always, these images and more will be available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Also available with one of  the many pictures available on my site are tons of cool gift items including coffee mugs, t-shirts, stationary, blankets and pillows, tech gadgets including battery chargers and phone cases and much much more!