On the Deer Trail

On the deer trail early in the morning today. I was thinking about taking the day off but Big Dog was definitely not in agreement. It was supposed to be snowing by now but I’m seeing nothing but blue sky and it was a beautiful dawn to be out in the high country!

Awesome Buck Mule Deer

Just as we were getting ready to crest the first ridge I noticed a slight bit of movement out of the corner of my eye, as if this magnificent buck mule deer was saying, “Hey, look over here!” After I took notice of him he started to take flight, but for some reason turned around to look and check if he was actually being chased. When he noticed that he wasn’t in immediate danger he stopped and took a few steps toward me out into the clearing. Perfect, I could not have asked for a better situation.  A bigger lens would have been nice but this was as good as it was going to get for today.

On top of the mountain I could see the snow

Beautiful Clouds on the Sangre

building on the western ranges but for us there was nothing but beautiful warm sunshine! Perhaps we will see some of the snow later which would be OK with me.

How fast Colorado can change! As I was writing this piece, 10 minutes ago Big Dog was basking in the sun in the back yard… Now we have wind driven snow pellets and he is looking up into my window all squinty eyed… Lol, guess I’d better go get him! Wonder if we are going to have a white Christmas after all?

As always this picture and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art and lots of cool gift items.

 

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No Bull

Lol, yup… No bull today, the surly beast has moved off the trail and on to another part of the forest. The coast was clear and we hiked to the summit and the high meadow where I always hope to see some wildlife. I don’t always see wildlife there, but today was a good day. As we crested the summit I scanned the edge of the wilderness for any animals that might be enjoying the clearing and the sun. Today there were two

Twin Bucks in the Snow

beautiful buck mule deer just standing there looking at me and the big dog trying to ascertain our intentions. I snapped a couple right away, my strategy for making sure I at least get some record of the sighting. Then we moved in behind a grove of trees hoping the big males wouldn’t notice. Turned out to be a good strategy, when I looked around a big aspen tree trunk I saw that the stags had not moved an inch. Using the tree to steady my camera I snapped a few more using various shutter and focus settings before calling it good. By the time we got back around the trees the pair of bucks had disappeared into the wilderness to the west.

We also saw a herd of elk, but they were in a terrible location right at the top of a ridge in shade with bright sunlight behind them. I took a few pictures anyway but I’m sure they didn’t turn out. I’ll take a look at them later to see if they can be salvaged with some creative cropping or something.

Driven

Misty Mountain Wilderness

I was so tired this morning… when I awoke I could only think of coffee and then while I was having coffee I was thinking of more coffee 🙂 But as I swallowed the last cup of my little four cup pot the usual butterflies appeared in my stomach. I don’t know what it is… but somehow I’m driven to get my camera and the big dog and go out into the woods. Once my coffee is gone there is no relaxing until after I have been out to see what the mountains have for me that day. As I try to sit still I am tormented by what I might be missing knowing full well that every day has something different to behold. The wilderness could be shrouded in fog, there might be some cool cap clouds on the Sangre de Cristo, there may be an elk herd, deer, bighorn sheep… But one thing I know for sure, I will not allow myself to miss it!Pair of Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Fortune

I always take my Canon DSLR with me… usually to no avail. Sometimes I tell people that I carry it as protection from wildlife… as long as I have it with me there is no chance that I will encounter any wild animals 😦 Fortunately this day was different, I encountered a herd of bighorn sheep on the side of the mountain posing in a grove  of beautiful autumn colored aspen 🙂

Leaping Bighorn

I quick snapped off a few pictures and then noticed that the nimble beasts were intent upon crossing over a large crevice by jumping from one large boulder to the next. So I quick set my camera to ISO 400 in hopes of getting a sharp action picture. One by one the critters deftly leapt from one boulder to the next over to a rock clearing where they could rest. As fortune would have it, they decided to take their afternoon break right in a grove of aspen trees that were some of the few that have already taken on their autumn colors.

It was a bit bright by that time in the afternoon and I noticed that my highlight warning was indicating quite a bit of  clipping on the light end of the scale so I decided to reach into my pack for the polarizer. One quick turn of the dark filter and the leaves took on the expected amazing deep saturated coloring that I was envisioning.

Trio of Autumn Bighorn

The sheep, safe on their high precarious perch were completely unconcerned by the activities of any humans far below and I was able to shoot for as long as I wanted. When the entire herd had made it across the boulders to the clearing the leader began another short migration to the next vantage point but I knew I had the shot I wanted and departed the scene as well.

My plan for today was to head over towards Breck in hopes of scouting out the trailhead to Quandary Peak. I’m not too confident about completing a 14er in style this year, but the thought of spending another entire winter thinking, “maybe next year” is too disheartening to contemplate. I have to see 14,000 feet this year, that’s all there is to it and 14,265 foot Quandary looks doable even in my less that optimal physical conditioning. According to 14ers.com the East Ridge route is only a little over six miles with a difficulty rating of Class 1 all the way. Since I already live at nearly 10,000 feet and regularly climb to over 11,000 feet extra elevation training is not that big of a concern.

So next week I will make the drive to scout out a camp site on Hoosier Pass and have a lookat trailhead parking. Don’t want to be fumbling around in the dark looking for a place to park when I should be getting a jump start on the climb!

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Autumn 2018

My favorite and most lucrative time of year for photography is getting off to a slow start… The flu, a lot of clouds and gloom, more truck trouble and too much working for a living are definitely a drag so far this season. Fortunately the truck is still running, just making a very annoying noise, perhaps a worn fan belt so at least I have been able to get around a bit, including the short drive over to my favorite trail where there are a few trees and sometimes even some elk and deer to shoot… Not going to rat out the location of my deer to hunters though! And finally after months of complete black out of the Sangre de Cristo and Collegiate Peaks, the smoke has cleared enough to actually see them through the low hanging haze.

This herd of mule deer bucks have been hanging around the trail head and seem to be getting warmed up to me a bit so that I can get a few shots off before they run off into the wilderness. Looks like they are quite healthy going into autumn so they should have no trouble surviving the long rocky mountain winter.

Today I noticed the clouds moving into the Arkansas Valley between me and the Sangre de Cristo so I was thinking this might be the perfect time of year for a shot of the  Victor / Goldfield mines with the Sangre in the background. Well worth the short drive up there, this is one of the best images I have ever captured of these mines and the Sangre.Victor Gold Mining District

Some new snow on the distant Collegiate Peaks got me to thinking that there might be a new dusting of snow on Pikes Peak as well, so a short drive to the top of Victor Pass was in order. Indeed there was a light layer of fresh snow to behold along with a nice view of the massive grove of aspen trees that have barely begun to show off their autumn glory.

Pikes Peak AutumnLater today I am going to drive over to the repair garage and see if I can schedule an oil change and have them take a listen to the terrible squealing I have had to endure for the last couple of weeks… hope it isn’t anything too serious, thinking maybe the power steering pump might be going out but we shall see. Hoping to have all this done before late September, I’m getting my first vacation in three years to go shoot some fall color. Wouldn’t it be nice if I was so successful that I didn’t have to even go back to work! Lol, highly unlikely but it is hopes and dreams that do keep us going!

These images and more are now available for purchase as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas, traditional frames and prints rolled in tubes. Also available are many cool gift and household items including t-shirts, battery chargers, shower curtains, towels, yoga mats, greeting cards and much more! Please visit my website for a complete catalog of images! Choose gallery mode to quickly identify your favorite categories of pictures!

The Elk Herd

It was a beautiful morning for a hike although my arrival at the trailhead was a bit behind schedule, greatly diminishing my chances of a successful wildlife sighting and with the smoke from the summer fires my chances of photographing the distant mountains were just about zero. Undaunted, I slung my camera over my shoulder anyway. As I climbed the steep grade to the top of the ridge my eyes scanned the forest edge for any sign of wildlife. Before I started my trek I had set my camera to ISO 400 in preparation for wildlife photography, so with nothing in sight and not much hope of any shooting I just left the settings as they were.

Over the top of the mini mountain I strode along, settling for a good day of exercise in the solitude of the Rocky Mountain wilderness when all of a sudden Big Dog went on alert and pointed me to the direction of interest. It was the most amazing thing, a huge herd of elk streaming up the mountainside towards the dense pine forest near the summit. I quickly brought up my camera, zoomed my 200mm lens all the way in and

Elk Herd

started shooting. The elk kept coming and coming, over the ridge and into the forest… there were at least a couple of hundred of them all together. Finally once they were past I quickly made my way across the mountainside to where they went in, hoping to find a few of them still lingering so that I could get a closer shot. Amazingly within just that quick minute that it took me to get there, like a herd of ghosts they were just gone. I could not believe that so many of these huge beasts could so quickly and silently pass by and disappear… like they were never there.

Lone elk cow

I ventured a bit further into the dense pine forest hoping to catch one of the magnificent animals departing when I spotted this straggler that had stopped to feed on a pine branch. I was only able to snap off a couple of shots before she noticed me and the Big Dog and quickly scampered to the safety of the large herd. The whole scene unfolded in a matter of minutes and I feel so fortunate to have been at just the right place at just the right time to witness such magnificence. And I would not have noticed them at all were it not for Big Dog’s ever vigilant nose and super powered ears. Sometimes I get to thinking he’s a pain to have along when shooting wildlife, until I have a moment like this and am reminded of how many images I would have missed without his extraordinary senses.

These images and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic and metal sheets, traditional matted frames, wrapped canvas and a huge selection of very cool gift items and handy household gadgets including phone cases, yoga mats, greeting cards and more!

Cripple Creek Crisis

At work the other day trying to concentrate on some task when over the radio comes a long story, “If you know anything about this… ” type of thing. Didn’t catch it all so I just finished the task at hand, vowing to inquire about the issue as soon as I had some time. Something about a lost turtle it sounded like. I assumed it must be an important earring or heirloom of some sort that I was going to have to log and track.

Finally freed myself up to go look into the “lost turtle” issue and went to the main desk to see what was up. Well it turns out that the lost turtle was a real live homeless turtle. The call was from City Hall where the little fellow was temporarily taking shelter until his owner could be located or until he was claimed by a responsible party. City Hall was calling all the businesses in town to see if anyone had any information on the testudinal  animal. Lol… not sure if I used that word right, but probably no one else is either… and I like it 🙂 

Don’t know how it all turned out… one of our crew was going to check into taking custody if no one else claimed him, but I do have a few pertinent questions. How does a turtle get away in the first place? Did they open the door and he just bolted? And how hard could it be to run down a turtle? What kind of people would be unable to thwart a turtle escape plan? You have to love Cripple Creek though… Where else would you find a town in which City Hall could take the time to call all the businesses in town to track down a wayward turtle’s owner? What other town would have businesses that go on full alert for a turtle? All I have to say is, “You gotta love Cripple Creek!” 🙂