Fierce Winds and a Panorama

The mountains were magnificent today, recent storms have blown away all the smoke and fog. It was cold and windy this morning and I knew the hike to the summit for the view was going to be unpleasant at best, but I was determined to get a panoramic image of the splendor before me. Unfortunately I was right, the fierce winds were freezing my ears so I had to pull up both hoods, my sweatshirt and my coat were both needed to stay warm. My lungs burned from the cold and the steep ascent as I made my way to the best overlook of the distant mountain range.

Clear Skies on the Sangre

Finally, I was at the top and the great mountain range spread across the horizon before me. As I stood in the fierce winds I readied the camera for a panoramic shot, camera on full manual… shutter speed at 1/250th, aperture f8 and ISO 100 for the best possible quality with the least amount of digital noise. I tried to shoot hand held but 50 mph winds were buffeting me so that I was not able to even stand still. The horrendous wind was causing my eyes to water and freeze shut, definitely not conducive to shooting a carefully arranged panorama!

Eventually, half frozen I finally got my five shots to cover the range and hustled back down the mountain into the shelter of the trees. There was no wildlife on the mountain today, apparently the animals were smarter than I am 🙂 There were a few little birds hiding in the shelter of the grass but I didn’t take the time to try to capture any images of them on this day, it was just too cold on the mountain.

Pair of Mule Deer

Back at the parking lot I decided that I wasn’t ready to call it a day though and turned Big Blue towards Eleven Mile Canyon. I was hoping to see some elk or deer along the way and I was also hoping that my favorite spot along the river might be sheltered from the wind. I found a small herd of mule deer grazing just outside the boundary of a llama ranch so I stopped to get a nice shot of this buck and his doe 🙂

Beaver at Eleven Mile

The eagles weren’t at the nest when I arrived  but I decided to pull out my camp chair and and just wait awhile to see what might develop. As I sat I heard a loud slap in the water upstream… the telltale sound of a beaver entering the water. Sure enough, the beaver had exited her lodge and begun to slowly swim around in search of something… then something unusual, she decided to just drift slowly downstream while facing upstream, something I had never seen a beaver do before. Eventually the huge rodent was right across from me about 10 feet away, enabling me to get a few nice closeup images

Beaver at Eleven Mile

The eagles eventually did show themselves but unfortunately I was not able to get a shot of either of them.  The male appeared briefly over the mountain and then flew away before I could get focused and the female landed on a branch behind the trunk of the tree. Frustrating!

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