The Perfect Rig

Photography Rig by the Pristine Waters of the South Platte River

I’ve been working for some time now to assemble the perfect rig for gaining access to the back country for landscape and wildlife photography. I don’t know whether it’s really the perfect rig or not, but it suits me perfectly and I was dying to try it all out together! I wanted the Tamrac Anvil 23 for it’s size and rugged construction, big and deep enough for all my gear and including a camera with battery grip and long lens. It also has straps on the center back strong enough to carry a heavy duty tripod comfortably. Then of course a carbon fiber tripod with a good video head, I decided upon the Manfrotto 502A for it’s rugged build plus it’s capability to operate effectively in the harsh Colorado winter. And of course the bike, which luckily I was able to find pre-owned and in like new condition, a Nishika Colorado 21 speed mountain bike with shock absorbers on the front forks ๐Ÿ™‚

My idea was that Waterton Canyon was going to be considerably warmer and the best

Pristine Waters of the South Platte River in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Winter

place to try it all out! However the weatherman was forecasting a cold gloomy morning and I was pretty sure that the sheep were not going to come down ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I felt kind of guilty driving 100 miles just to go on a bike ride so I was going to back out, but I called my favorite camera store Englewood Camera, and they just happened to have a good deal on a 4 stop ND filter that I’ve been wanting so I thought what the heck… I’ll stop in at the camera store and maybe I’ll even be able to try it out on my favorite part of the river. Years ago back in the film days I had captured a great image of the river and I’ve tried repeatedly through the years without success to duplicate it with the awesome new technology at our disposal these days so that I could have it for sale on my stock portfolio!

It was still cold and gloomy in the canyon by the time I got there at about 10:00 a.m. so I bundled up and hoped for the best. Indeed I did not see a single bighorn sheep in my entire ride to the top of the dirt road. Modifications I

Pristine Waters of the South Platte River in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Winter

had recently made to my bike, including seat, hand grips and pedals proved worth the investment as I rode hard all the way to the turnaround without having to dismount a single time ๐Ÿ™‚ On the way up I identified the very spot that I captured my favorite image so many years ago and on the way back down I stopped there for pictures and video. The other time was autumn so I knew I would not have the beautiful colors, but I have always wanted to try the image in winter as well. I spent a good amount of time there using wide angle and long lenses, the polarizer and a plain skylight filter. The water wasn’t flowing sufficiently to need the new ND, but I’ll try that out over at Eleven Mile pretty soon.

All in all I think I am satisfied with my winter images and I got a great workout on my mountain bike in the fresh mountain air of the Pike National Forest. 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 matting and framing! Also I have no sponsorship or compensation of any kind from any of these products. I have purchased them with my own funds because I found them most suitable to my needs.

Bittersweet Morning

A special morning in the mountains today… After months of closure for some invisible project being performed by the mine to the north, my trailhead is finally open again. Whatever they had been doing appeared to have been completed months ago, but still the trail remained closed. Finally I called and prompted someone to look into it and it turns out that the trail could be opened.

Small herd of mule deer enjoying a beautiful Colorado winter morning

So this morning I loaded up the camera and the snowshoes and headed for the hills. It has been so long… I wondered if my ungulate friends were still there or if they had allย  been shot by the trigger happy redneck population so prevalent here in the high country?

Well my question was soon answered… as I made my way up the steep ascent I could feel eyes upon me. I stopped and looked around a bit and sure enough, peering over the mountaintop were a couple of does wondering what I was up to ๐Ÿ™‚ I stopped for a few shots before ascending further. The deer were waiting for me at the summit, warily staying just ahead of me in case they deemed it necessary to flee.

And ahead of me they stayed… about 100 yards all the way to the overlook where our

Small herd of mule deer enjoying a beautiful Colorado winter morning

paths parted. They meandered into the woods to the north as I turned left to complete the loop and head back down. One lone free range cow greeted me inย  the deep snow, other than that I just made my way back down the mountain in the quiet of the morning.

Sadness filled my heart in the silence of the windward side of the mountain as I remembered my beautiful four legged companion who was so filled with joy at the freedom of the trail and the fresh mountain air his nose was constantly sampling. This was our special place and to be there without him was heartbreaking at first. soon however, I found comfort in the knowledge that he is no longer constrained by the bounds of this present reality and is free to visit his favorite place anytime he desires ๐Ÿ™‚ I think maybe I could feel his presence galloping along the hillsides as I made my way back to the truck.

Small herd of mule deer enjoying a beautiful Colorado winter morning

Gathering Storm

Approaching Storm on the Sangre de Cristo

As I looked out the window down the valley this morning it quickly became apparent that a change in the weather is afoot. The first evidence of an approaching storm often shows itself on the high peaks of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountain range to the southwest.

So of course I grabbed my camera and headed for higher ground in hopes of capturing the show before the mountains were completely obscured. My efforts paid off as I caught the action at it’s most dramatic point ๐Ÿ™‚ The days ahead will tell whether the storm works it’s way north or if the massive block fault range stops it in it’s tracks.

As always these pictures and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets ready for hanging, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Cool gift items including coffee mugs, t-shirts, phone cases and much much more are also available!

Approaching Storm on the Sangre de Cristo

Eleven Mile Winter

Eleven Mile Canyon in Winter

Something I’ve always wanted to do… See the headwaters of the South Platte River flowing through Eleven Mile Canyon in wintertime. Shouldn’t be that hard to do but I never seemed to have the right tires or brakes or time or whatever… But yesterday it finally all came together and I made the journey! I was kind of thinking about leaving my truck at the entrance but that idea was quickly abandoned when I got out to pay. Dang it’s cold in that canyon! Apparently the canyon walls are quite good at holding in the cold!

The road was snow packed and icy in places as I entered the canyon but as the road

Eleven Mile Canyon in Winter

turned to the west bare dirt greeted me and it looked like the journey should be doable even in a two wheel drive truck. As I drove past the roughest part of the river, a place where I usually climb down to the riverside for some shots and video of the roaring whitewater it became apparent that climbing on the banks was going to be out of the question in winter. Oh well I thought, I was sure the riverside would be accessible in other places.

Eleven Mile Canyon in Winter

And it was in a few places but mostly a riverside visit in the Rocky Mountain winter is a pretty treacherous endeavor ๐Ÿ˜ฆ In some places there was just deep snow to go through, but in others it was ice so solid that my Ice Trekkers were not even enough for traction. And in other places there was an icy shelf over the river bank so that it wasn’t possible to tell where the bank ended and the river began. One wrong step and one might find himself on an unpleasant winter swim in the icy waters of a raging Colorado river!

So getting pictures turned out to be a very difficult proposition. In summer you can pick

Eleven Mile Canyon in Winter

yourself right down to the waters edge to get past the vegetation that lines the entire bank for an unobstructed view of the river. But in winter so many good views are ruined by a bush or a tree or just bramble sticking up from the riverside. Getting just the right angle on the view is so important but I was simply not able to do that yesterday.

But I certainly enjoyed myself and had a great morning along the beautiful river. The canyon is always a beautiful sight to behold with it’s magnificent cliffs and eagles soaring overhead. Unfortunately the times I saw an eagle I was equipped with a wide angle for shooting the river. When I put on my long lens I could not find an eagle anywhere!

Well anyway, I did manage to get a few pictures I like, some of which are up on my website for purchase as wall art onย  glossy metal or acrylic sheets and I also was able to put together a nice movie called Eleven Mile Winter on my YouTube site ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t forget to subscribe if you like the video and want to be notified each time a video is published!

Also note that I was not sponsored by Ice Trekkers, I purchased them with my own funds because I think they are a good product and frequently find them useful on my winter adventures! I also recommend using a trekking pole or cross country ski poles for safety as you climb the banks of the river in snow!

Eleven Mile Canyon in Winter

Winter Day with the Bighorn

Alpenglow on the Sangre De Cristo

There is nothing I like more than spending a day with the Watertonย  Canyon bighorn herd ๐Ÿ™‚ The weather on my mountain was going to be cold and blustery but a nice sunny day was predicted for the Canyon and the decision on what to do and where to go was an easy one!

I got to the trailhead at about 9:30 a.m. which is usually a good start time. The parking lot was nearly empty so it wasn’t long before my pack was loaded, water bottle filled and mountain bike ready to go! My recent efforts at bike tuning appeared to be successful as I was comfortable in the newly adjusted saddle and that wretched squeak was gone! Turns out a slight alignment of the front brakes was all that was needed for my newly acquired peace and quiet ๐Ÿ™‚

I soon passed the first of the favorite hangouts for the sheep with no sign of the herd.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

Recent reports from the Canyon positioned them about four miles into the ride so I pressed on. I passed the yellow house and then the big dam at the 3.1 mile point, still no sign. Soon though I noticed a pile of rubble in the road… a very good sign ๐Ÿ™‚ The bighorn scrambling around the cliffs often result in a lot of rock in the road and today was no different.ย  A lone sheep stood in the road and a quick glance upward revealed a few more. A big ram was resting along the bank of the South Platte River and a group of ewes and yearling were foraging on the mountain grass in the cliffs of the northern cliffs.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

So I quietly put down my bike and pack and prepared for some photography.ย  This was going to be a good day to test out my new Manfrotto 502 tripod head ๐Ÿ™‚ I snapped a few pictures and then attached the camera to the new fluid head and tried my hand at some motion picture recording. Though the new head was smooth and a pleasure to use, following the agile creatures is still a trick! I might add here that no one furnished me the 502, I purchased it on my own and there is no sponsorship from Manfrotto or anyone else for use of this head.

Soon the rest of the animals were on their way down to the road as some of them crossed

Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

over to the river for a morning drink. Then much to my surprise they came walking straight to me! I backed off a bit and they came to me again! Soon one of the game wardens admonished me to give them some space, at which time I told him I did but the sheep appear to want my company!

I imagine they milled around my location for about an hour and then began wandering down the road. My second goal for the day was to ride all the way to the top of the road to the start of the first single track segment of the Colorado Trail, the entire six miles to the turnaround point, something I haven’t done in a long time! There is a stretch of river up there that I have been wanting winter photographs for a number of years now. I have a nice fall shot there but have always wanted to see it in ice and snow!

As always these images are available for

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift, household and tech items are also available with one of my pictures, including coffee mugs, t-shirts, stationary, battery chargers, phone cases and much much more! you can also view collections on my website to enable simplified access to just the pictures that you are interested in!

Also please be sure to visit and subscribe to my YouTube site where you will find a short film set to inspiring music of this trek!

Plan B or Maybe C for 2020

Things definitely not going to plan for 2020 so far. Took vacation from work for the first couple of weeks of the year to get a head start on winter photography, maybe a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, a couple excursions to Waterton Canyon for mountain bike rides to see the bighorn sheep and perhaps a snowshoe trek at the Denny Creek Trail, something I’ve been wanting to do for years. And my local trail into the mountain back country is supposed to be reopening as well. Unfortunately on my first day off my truck has decided to start acting up and is in the truck hospital as of this morning. Hopefully it won’t be anything too serious and I will quickly be back in action!

Stunning Sangre de Cristo Range

Not wanting to completely waste a day yesterday, I decided that since I might be without wheels for a few days maybe I’dย  better give my mountain bike a little tune up to coincide with my New Year’s Resolution to getย  back in shape! My last ride up Waterton Canyon was a struggle atย  best, far more difficult than I thought it should be, worrying me that I have spent far too much time watching Youtube videos about mountain biking instead of actually mountain biking ๐Ÿ˜ฆ However the tune up proved to be quite successful especially the saddle adjustment that I completed. Turns out the seat was way too far back making it extremely uncomfortable in addition to placing my legs completely out of the power leverage angle. A short test ride with the new placement proved two things, one, I’m not in as poor of physical shape as I feared… and two, I’m going to need to be in a lot better shape than I am in order to do the things I have planned for this year!

So plan B today was going to be a mountain bike ride to my local trailhead for a ride up the new road they have built to the summit. At first I wasn’t too pleased to see the improvements, knowing that all the more people will be invading my sanctuary but now I’m thinking that with mountain biking as my new preferred form of exercise, the road may come in handy ๐Ÿ™‚

But it only took one step out the door this morning to see a problem with plan B… it is unexpectedly frigid out today! It’s cold and grey and there is a wicked wind blowing out of the north ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Perhaps it will warm up a bit later today making for better riding conditions… or perhaps plan C will be enacted to spend just one more day working out with my weights inside and a little bit of time at the computer before beginning in earnest the work towards my New Year’s Resolution!

Another Stellar Mountain Morning

Not much to say other than stunning… I feel so blessed to live in view of the jaw dropping

Stunning Sangre de Cristo Rangesplendor of theย  Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. One time I drove all the way down to Westcliffe to try to get a better view but it turns out that in this case, closer is not better! Of course many days the view is obscured by smoke and haze but most of the time the rugged range is putting on a pretty good show. For this image I used my my Canon 100-400L glass with circular polarizer on full effect to achieve this crystal clear scene. I love the clouds hanging over the range like a halo and almost a mirror image of the snow on the foothills below!

Now the view is gone as our next winter storm moves in, I can’t see the mountains at all. But there is a silver lining, there will be another amazing show after the snow is done falling ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, this is my favorite one of the day, hope you enjoy it! Feel free to follow my #swkrull instagram page to see the rest of the ones I got processed today, along with a few more of the bighorn sheep from Christmas Day ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, this image is available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing, just click the link to explore!