Tunnel Quest

One of my favorite projects was my train tunnel finding adventures. This took all summer a few years ago to locate and photograph with an actual train in the picture! The tracks west of Denver are quite busy though, so it often took only up to an hour of waiting before a train came through, one direction or the other. The real fun was the hiking in, many times on rugged trails or along the railroad bed itself. Don’t remember how the idea came to me, but I wanted to photograph the trains for my stock photo business and finding the tracks and the tunnels was a fun way to do it I guess πŸ™‚ The complete set of print and gift pictures from my adventures can be found here and the commercial stock version of those images can be seen here.

Rollins-Pass

For railroad buffs there is no better place than the Colorado Front Range mountains with tracks winding through the valleys through dozens of tunnels. Union Pacific, BNSF, Amtrack and the Santa Fe lines share the tracks as they haul freight, coal and travelers between Denver’s Union Station and the west coast.

Beautiful Union Station in downtown Denver is the railway hub of Rocky Mountain west. From there the trains head west through Denver towards the Front Range foothills. When train watching always remember to respect the boundaries of the train engineer. The engineers are responsible for the safety of their trains and don’t need the headache of worrying about an over zealous train enthusiast standing on or near the tracks. I recommend a vantage point at least 30 yards from the tracks, safe for the viewer and distant enough to keep the engineer from being nervous about your safety as well.

map_coalcreek

Tunnel #1 is one of the first places to catch a view of the massive steel snakes as they make their journeys to and from the great American West. To reach the the tunnel take Highway 93 north out of Golden to Highway 72 and head west. On the north side of the road look for the first huge knoll which is the formation that the tunnel passes through. Hike through the meadow to the north to see the north side of the tunnel or up the steep embankment to view the south entrance. Generally the wait shouldn’t be more than a half hour to an hour before a train comes through.

Tunnel #2 is on Plainview road, a dirt road that heads north from Highway 72 just east of Tunnel #1. The road is unpaved but easily passable with a passenger car. Proceed along the road and find a place to park when you come to the tracks. The tunnel is north of there and can be approached on foot by hiking north at a safe distance along the tracks. Watch locomotives proceeding in and out of the tunnel against the beautiful backdrop of the Boulder Flatirons.

Divide-Train-5

The tracks then proceed into the foothills through El Dorado Canyon State Park with Tunnel #10 being accessible from the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail. El Dorado Canyon is one of the most beautiful places this writer has ever come across. I have done a lot of hiking and climbing there but have never made the climb to Tunnel #10, which remains on my train watching bucket list.

Tunnel #2 Map

Another great place for train viewing is on Gross Reservoir Road near the town of Coal Creek on Highway 72. Follow Gross Dam Road to the tracks and find a suitable parking spot. Tunnel #19 can be found by hiking west along the tracks for a half mile or so, while Tunnel #18 can be viewed by hiking east. Fantastic views of the trains and the peaks of the Colorado Continental Divide to the west can be experienced by climbing to the top of the bluffs east of the road and north of the tracks. Trains can be viewed breaking through the foothills from El Dorado Canyon as you look to the east.

map_crescent

The little mountain town of Pinecliffe further west on Highway 72 is the next good viewing location. From there you can hike east along the tracks across a little bridge to view Tunnel #29 and the massive cliff above. This is a nice place to visit when the aspen trees are clothed in their golden autumn glory.

map_rollins.jpg

Mountain wilderness limits accessibility to the tracks between Pinecliffe and Rollinsville but Rollins Pass offers some of the most spectacular train viewing imaginable with beautiful mountain scenery, trestles, bridges and the crown glory of the Eastern Slopes, the Moffat Tunnel. Completed in February of 1928, the Moffat Tunnel

Moffat-Tunnel

cuts 6.2 miles through the solid rock of the mountains of the Indian Peaks Wilderness and the Colorado Continental Divide. The tracks and road leading to the tunnel entrance offer wonderful nostalgic photo opportunities and a journey into American history. Rollins Pass Road is a rough ride but well worth the trouble. The engraved concrete Moffat Tunnel entrance set against the massive mountains of the Indian Peaks Wilderness is quite picturesque and the railroad activity there fascinating to watch. For the more adventurous, a hike to Crater Lakes in the high peaks behind the tunnel is worth the climb.

Crater-Lakes

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

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Footsteps of the Prospectors

Nice ending to a lazy Sunday… Thanks to my ever energetic canine explorer I was not destined to have a full day of rest on this Lord’s Day πŸ™‚ Son Boy was getting restless late in the afternoon so I decided to take him on a good hike to the Grouse Mountain overlook near Victor, where gold was discovered in 1891 by William Scott Stratton. Being late afternoon I was thinking we might see some wildlife so I brought the camera and my F4L 70-200, my go to lens for wildlife hiking.

Abandoned Victor MineSure enough, about a quarter of a mile up the trail we spotted a huge bull elk but unfortunately he spotted us first… and quickly left the scene. The hike to the top is only about a three quarters of a mile where there is a beautiful vantage point overlooking the Sangre De Cristo Mountains to the south and the Collegiate Peaks to the west. It was pretty hazy today but I stopped for a few captures anyway before heading back down to the trailhead. The Sangre and Collegiate Peaks are just too beautiful to pass by without a picture!

Prospector TrailI’ve been feeling the call to explore a bit south of there on a higher mountain but haven’t seen a trail and the worry of unmarked mine cavities has held me back. Today however I noticed some sort of marker, a cairn with a flag… So we wandered over to take a look and discovered that it said β€œTrail”. Sure enough there was a faint trail and it looked like another cairn about 50 to 75 yards ahead. We had a bit of extra time and Son Boy looked game so we headed down for a better look. Soon a more obvious trail appeared which gave way to what appeared to be a turn of the 20th century wagon trail that headed off into the distance towards the south and the Sangre De Cristo. As I strode along the rugged dirt path it occurred to me that the ground I was on was probably exactly the same as it was over a hundred years ago when the original prospectors walked it hoping to strike it rich.

Grouse MineFinally… a trail in the Cripple Creek area that doesn’t just end in a turnaround! Now this was going to require some investigating! I followed the trail around the mountain towards the taller mountain and was determined to reach a point ahead where I could see that there might be a good view to the west. Didn’t get my view today, but the trail continues into the countryside as far as the eye can see. Now I am eager to take this trail further, perhaps there will be some abandoned mines off the beaten path, some that haven’t had their view obstructed by the barbed wire and fences of modern civilization. Also I am inspired to try new roads in hopes of finding new trails where I can follow in the footsteps of 19th century explorers and gold prospectors… I doubt I will find any gold nuggets, but perhaps my blog accounts and pictures will produce some digital gold πŸ™‚

Stay tuned to S. W. Krull Imaging for the results of my next hike into the Cripple Creek back country! Also be sure to click the links at the left or in the menu section if you are on a smart phone, to view images for sale on my website… Wall art, clothing and a wealth of gift items are available there!

Eclipse Party on Bald Mountain

Kind of forgot about this… until I downloaded the camera chip from yesterday’s shoot and discovered these images were still unprocessed! Well, better late than never πŸ™‚ Actually I almost missed the event completely. On the day of the eclipse I was just out making my usual rounds, going to the gym, getting supplies for later, etc. Then IΒ  got to thinking about it and everyone was so excited about it I thought maybe I should give the eclipse some more attention! As I thought about it while looking at the peak and wondering what it was going to look like with a 90% eclipse it came to me that Bald Mountain would be the perfect spot for viewing. There is an unobstructed view of the peak from there and you can see all the way to The Sangre De Cristo,Β  Sawatch and Mosquito Range mountains from up there.

Pikes Peak Eclipse PartyA quick check of the internet on my phone and I discovered that I had just enough time to get up there to see the whole thing, from start to finish. Didn’t expect to see anyone else up there but there was already a small party going on by the time I arrived. Apparently Bald Mountain is a popular hiking destination for quite a few Crystola locals! Grabbed my camera and tripod and hoofed it up to the summit and took a seat in the soft grass. It wasn’t long before I heard someone exclaim that it had started πŸ™‚ Several people had those little dark squares of glass suitable for sun viewing so it was easy to get a minute by minute report of the progress πŸ™‚ I selected my wide angle and put the camera on the tripod and attached my remote shutter release so that I could video with my phone while snapping pictures of the peak.

Eclipse on the PeakThe change seemed to come in phases with a sudden cooling of the temperature. The summit of Bald Mountain is probably close to 10,000 feet so it was a bit chilly up there anyway, but as the sun became more and more obscured by the moon it got downright cold! Eventually about when I figured the effects were at their maximum, someone loaned me the glass to look through. Indeed it looked like the sun was about 90% obscured so I shot some video and then this image of the peak.Β  The dimming of the light was not all that noticeable, kind of like a fully overcast day only with a weird flat greenish looking color cast. I usually do some Photoshopping on my images but for this one I have left it alone in an effort to provide an accurate rendition of the conditions at the time. You can see that it was just kind of a dull light and there are no shadows on the peak.

Then as quickly as it had begun, it was all over with. It was a glorious clear day and the bright sun quickly warmed the summit and everyone was on their way. I’m sure those who went to the maximum effect areas of the country had a much more dramatic eclipse experience, but I met some new people, had some fun and participated in the event of the century… and that’s got to be a good day. Be sure to watch the Academy Award worthy video I shot below πŸ™‚

 

These pictures and more will be for sale on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, framed and matted prints and also as novelty items including t-shirts and coffee mugs. Commercial editorial stock versions of the images is also available at the image licensing portal of my website.

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

The Fawns

Yesterday was too hot to do anything most of the day and not a cloud in sight. Top that off with some horrendous Labor Day traffic going through town and it was just a nice day to hang out in the air conditioning and rest up a bit from the long week before.

Mule Deer FawnsHowever the late afternoon light was just a bit too enticing for a photographer and it had cooled off enough that I could take the puppies out for some exercise.

It was a nice leisurely stroll along one of my favorite trails in the Pike National Forest near Woodland… All the people and all their dogs off doing holiday things with all the other people doing holiday things. Perhaps that is why the small family of mule deer I have been getting glimpses of all summer were finally standing still in the open where I could finally get a decent shot of them! They weren’t afraid of me this time and just looked up from their feeding to wonder what the heck I was doing πŸ™‚

I captured some of just the two fawns and a couple with mamma deer in the frame too. I will be processing all ofΒ  them in the coming days and they will be available for purchase on my website.

When I was done hiking I decided to take a drive in the cool of the evening down Ed Lowe Road, a place of great beauty and always a good source of wildlife pictures. This visit paid off too, when I spotted a small herd of doe mule deer feeding down by the stream in the deep foliage. They were hearing a dog in the distance though and would not look at me as they were more interested in the dog. But I did get a couple of nice portrait views of one of the does.

Huge BuckLater on my way back I spotted this huge buck mule deer foraging for food on a steep mountainside. He was a ways off but I think it is an interesting picture with the angle of the background so steep. I tried cropping it, but it didn’t really bring out the deer any more and cropping took away from the effect of the mountainside. So I steadied the camera with my elbows on the hood of my old Dodge truck and here we have the distant buck looking curiously at me from a range of about 100 yards captured with my Canon F4L 70-200.

BierwerksDusk was settling in on my way home back through Woodland Park on a beautiful and unusually warm evening. The outdoor beer garden at Bierwerks was just a bit too enticing to pass by, so I stopped in for a pale ale and a chance to bask in the glow of the outdoor fire pit and contemplate life. I am happy to announce that after a summer of turmoil and stress dealing with the real estate market I’m only days away from closing on a house and a move to Cripple Creek. My head is just swimming from all the ups and downs of trying to qualify for the loan and it was nice just to sit and look at the fire while sipping one of my favorites. For a bit I felt like I was joining the rest of the world on vacation to the mountains…

These pictures and more will be for sale on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, framed and matted prints and also as novelty items including t-shirts and coffee mugs. Commercial editorial stock versions of the images is also available at the image licensing portal of my website.

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

 

 

Freedom Ride for POW / MIA

Hard to believe, a whole year has passed since I photographed this event, but here it is, the 2017 Veteran’s Ride for Freedom for the POW and MIA soldiers who are unaccounted for in all wars. Riders assemble in Woodland Park Colorado and ride en masse to Cripple Creek where a cheering crowd of thousands greets them with an amazing Colorado style festival. I’ve had numerous opportunities to photograph the riders leaving Woodland Park, but this was the first real chance I have ever had to actually go to Cripple Creek and capture them coming into town. Almost could not drag myself out of bed this morning but fortunately the doggies know the meaning of the alarm clock and were not having any part of going back to bed πŸ™‚

Veteran's Ride for Freedom to Cripple CreekI couldn’t figure out from the website what time the riders would actually arrive so I wound up getting there way too early, so I thought… Anyway it seemed like an opportune time for another 50 cent breakfast at Bronco Billy’s which upon arrival looked like a no go when I saw the crowd. Luckily I received a tip from someone in the know that I could go to one of the bars and order breakfast from there instead of sitting in the cafeteria. Cool! The bar was empty so that worked out just right! The bartender filled me in on the schedule and I was happy to discover that there was going to be a parade in less than an hour so as it turns out I wasn’t so early after all.

Miss ColoradoThe parade was small but quaint and I didn’t notice until tonight, but I captured an image of Miss Colorado, which I think is pretty cool πŸ™‚ This year was also the last year for the Vietnam era Huey displayed on a trailer in the parade so I was glad to have gotten the opportunity to see that as well. A traveling replica of the Vietnam Wall was on the other side of town but I managed to miss that somehow.

Then I took up a good vantage point in front of the Brass Ass which was also where a couple of Teller County’s finest were stationed as well. So I chatted with them and listened to the play by play of the riders progress on their radios πŸ™‚ Finally I heard the roar of probably hundreds of Harleys making the turn from the base of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak on Highway 67 into the downtown area. It was especially important to me to capture the front runners carrying the flags. Such a cool sight, so I made sure I was in the middle of the road for that! Just in time for the arrival of the riders a big ugly cloud rolled in overhead to spoil all the colors but I got the shots and got out of the street in time to get them going west down into the massive crowd at the festival and towards the beautiful flag flying over the street.

 

Then I captured a few more sights and sounds, including a video from my phone, which never ceases to disappoint me with it’s lack of quality… My camera does video as well, but for some reason I can never remember to figure out how to use it until it’s too late. Something about switching a still camera to video just doesn’t seem natural!Veteran's Freedom Ride to Cripple Creek

The heat today was oppressive, which was another reason to get there early. I was able to park in the Double Eagle parking garage, so I made sure I lost a few bucks to the one armed bandits there to make up for using their garage. Tried to take the doggies for a hike, but it was way too hot and we only went a few yards before they did their business and wanted to get out of the sun.

As I work on the pictures tonight it occurs to me that it was at this event one year ago that I received the first hint that there was something seriously wrong with my 70-200 F4L lens. Weird… parts of the picture in focus and other parts in the same plane not in focus…. After grieving about it for a couple of months I took it in for repairs and now I have it back as good as new πŸ™‚ It needed a tune up anyway after a decade of hard use!

I thought it was great to see all those thousands of people cheering and waving flags, everyone fully in support of the rider’s mission, especially in this time of such strife when so many are so bent out of shape over everything under the sun. There was not a single fight the entire time I was there, no protestors to ruin the event for everyone else, just thousands of people being happy and polite. I wish there was more of that in this country now!

These pictures and more will be for sale on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, framed and matted prints and also as novelty items including t-shirts and coffee mugs. Commercial editorial stock versions of the images is also available at the image licensing portal of my website.

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

 

The Art of Walking Away

Had a pretty good day today, have to say so myself! Started out with my usual hike up the mountainside with the puppies. It was a beautiful cool cloudy morning portending the rainy day we have had. The forest is beautiful this year, very green, almost like the rain forest of the Great Northwest only our Colorado mountain pines are not nearly as large! Had to cut the hike a bit short though when I noticed a deer on one of the upper switchbacks that I didn’t want the dogs to scare. I hate to see them have to run on that terrain, so easy for them to hurt their spindly legs. Once they get to limping they are just bait for the lions 😦

Colorado Mule DeerWith a whole day ahead of me and nothing planned, I decided to take a drive down Twin Rocks and Teller 1, I usually have a pretty good chance of scoring some wildlife pictures somewhere along there, a great stretch for deer and elk to graze all the way along that route through the high prairie. I was fortunate to spot a couple of bucks foraging in a clearing of mountain grass and wildflowers. I attached my 70-200 zoom and set the ISO to 400 as it was a bit cloudy, nice light… just not as bright as usual. As usual I started shooting from a distance to make sure that I got some kind of record of the scene while moving ever closer for the best shot possible. Of course the deer noticed me right off but paid little attention until they noticed me closing in. Finally I got as close as they were going to let me get and snapped a couple of frames before they started wandering off. I could have wasted time trying to follow, but I knew I got the shot and just walking away was the most profitable action at that point.

Colorado LlamaAs I continued down Teller 1, I ran across another beautiful scene with llamas in a beautiful field of wildflowers and grass in front of the foothills. Stopped along the side of the highway and picked up a few more frames using my long lens. The rest of the drive to Cripple Creek was uneventful, except for a few morons who are willing to take their own lives and everyone’s around them by feeling the need to pass on the curves. I just can’t understand what is so important about going fast that it is worth risking life for the thrill.

Then it was down to Bronco Billy’s for steak and eggs. The waiter seated me clear in the back which suited me fine until I noticed I was sitting by a large multi family table of overweight tourists shoveling in food like there was no tomorrow. No apparent chewing, just shoveling… I waited about 10 minutes and no one came… As I grew more aggravated and disgusted I finally realized I no longer had an appetite and it was time to just “walk away” while I was ahead. Went out and stuck a couple of bucks in the slots, won $2 and got my appetite back. Went back to the cafeteria and got a different seat in the front away from the large groups πŸ™‚

On my way out of town I decided to stop in at the Double Eagle and try my luck with a couple more bucks in the electronic thieves. It was mostly up with a little down on a few different machines before winding up at a new .25 cent bet model with a few more dollars in my pocket to risk. After a couple of spins the thing went nuts! Turns out I had won back to back free spins, about 40 altogether I think. Well anyway by the time it was all done beeping and whistling I had almost $50 on the scoreboard… Took a few more spins with nothing and once again decided to just β€œwalk away” while I was ahead.

So at the end of a good day I have a few extra greenbacks, a few pictures to work on and a pretty good life lesson that is applicable in many a situation. Knowing when to walk away can save a lot of grief, whether it be at the poker table, an argument with the wife before the situation becomes too heated or even a close encounter with some irritable wildlife perhaps!

Of course the images from today will soon become available on my website with the commercial stock versions available on the image licensing portal.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Rough Start

Wasn’t sure I was going to make it out this morning… I don’t know, maybe it’s the damp weather, or maybe just too many hours on the loading docks this week, but when I awoke this morning it felt like a bomb had exploded inside my body. Got up, turned on the coffee pot and just sat here hoping for the pain to subside. Three different times I have broken my coffee drinking hand and it was really slow to come around but finally I was able to hold the coffee mug. The hot ceramic felt good in the palm of my hand as I tried to decide whether I wanted to face the day…

Finally the dogs started to grumble and I knew there was no possibility of going back to bed. Thought about just taking a slow walk up through the forest gate and up the road, but definitely was not in the mood to try to get past the troll. As I started moving around trying to feed the cats and get dressed, the pain in the rest of my battered temple began to reside and I decided on a trailhead to Bald Mountain that the troll doesn’t know about and probably could not get to on her best day. Would love to see the old crank try to negotiate the barbed wire fence…

Bald Morning 3The doggies were so excited about the new trail and the new smells that it was worth it just to see how much fun they were having! The beauty of the unhindered view of Pikes Peak, the fresh air at 10,000 feet and the utter solitude of being in a place that few others are even aware of also aided my mood on such a wonderful day to not have to go to work. Sadly the wildflowers are once again a mess this week so I didn’t bother to shoot with my DSLR, but I did snap a few of the scenery with my smart phone.Bald Morning 2

A couple hours of fresh air and both me and the doggies were tired and ready to head home. Thought about stopping at Bierwerks for lunch, but as we drove by I noticed that the place was quite populated with families with their children and after a week of enduring the din of screaming kids at Walmart I just could not face it. Maybe it just me, but I wish there was still someplace for adults to go… Used to be coffee shops and bars were pretty reliable sanctuaries, but no more.

Picked up a few supplies, ate some lunch and now listening to the rumble of an approaching thunderstorm. Pretty quiet at home today save for the snoring of the cats and dogs. I think it is going to be a peaceful afternoon for a nap. Maybe I will get an idea for a real adventure tomorrow, more sleep tonight will get me on the road much earlier in the morning, in time to beat the traffic and catch the beauty of the morning light cascading onto the beautiful Colorado Rockies… somewhere.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items