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.

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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.

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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

Coyote Ridge

Coyote Ridge is a trailhead at Eleven Mile Reservoir that I’ve been meaning to hike for a couple of years now. I’ve started the hike and turned around a couple of times, both times in the winter. The cold at Eleven Mile Reservoir is extreme so one time I turned around for that reason and the other time because I knew that I would not be able to climb the ridge without snowshoes or at least my Ice Trekkers.Β  The logical solution is to explore the trail the first time in summer… but I always seem to have something to do in the summer!

Yellow Wildflowers at Eleven Mile State Park

Well yesterday I didn’t have something to do… the osprey have probably already migrated to South America, the eagles have vanished from the Canyon and the deer and elk are nowhere to be found. I’ve seen pelican flying over the canyon on their way to the reservoir but the eagles don’t seem to have that behavior. I’ve seen the eagles fly west around the mountain where their nest is but from there where they go is a mystery. Once we spotted a bald eagle at the reservoir, along with a bunch of other birds hanging around a bag of trash thrown down by a camper, but that is the only time. However I have been suspicious for a long time that the eagles make the wild southeast section of the reservoir closest to the dam their summer home, the only section of the park without vehicle access.

Eleven Mile State Park

So I arrived early at the park yesterday with the intention of creating a video of this exploration and began the trek around the cove to the rugged ridge on the other side to the east. As I neared the ridge I could finally see where the trail was going to cut through the trees and rocks, up close it became obvious that the trail was a well maintained route facilitated by a set of stairs constructed of logs. I quickly made the steep but easy ascent anticipating a fabulous view on the other side. However the reward did not come immediately, I had to hike probably another half mile where an offshoot onto another outcropping became available.

On the higher ground the trails turn to forest roads for the Park Service, but mountain bike tracks also indicate that these are commonly used trails for bikers, something I’ll have to keep in mind. I would like to explore the entire southeast side someday but the distance is too great for me to want to do it all on foot. Mountain biking the section would be awesome!

Eleven Mile State Park

Well anyway, I made my way down closer to the shoreline to where the view did open up, allowing me to get some beautiful pictures and survey the entire vista to the west and north. I could see that there are a number of inlets in the wild terrain of the southeast side but I was unable to see the big dam marking the entrance to the stunning Eleven Mile Canyon. I suspect you would have to get right up to it in order to see it, so I wasn’t really expecting to see it from the first outcropping anyway.

After exploring the massive rocks creating this beautiful access to the lake I decided to just sit awhile and see if I might see the raptors flying over the clear blue water in search of the big trout I’ve often observed there. In the stillness of the morning, motion on the big island in the middle of the reservoir had caught

Pelicans at Eleven Mile State Park

my eye. Pelicans were landing and taking off from there and closer inspection through my big lens revealed a huge population of pelicans and great blue heron making themselves at home. The pelicans were all bunched together close to the east shore while the blue heron were spread out closer to the high ground in the on the north end. None of the birds paid any mind to the kayakers and paddle boarders floating past.

I never did spot any raptors, although some other hikers told me that red-tailed hawks could regularly be seen soaring overhead. Eventually I could feel my skin begin to burn from the blazing Colorado sun so I decided to call it a day, next time I will be sure to remember sunscreen. Although there are many trails up there going in every direction it wasn’t difficult to find the way back… just don’t stray too far from the water and you will eventually be returned to the starting point.

Once again, there is a video associated with this adventure, so I hope you enjoy it! If you do, I hope you will consider subscribing to my channel, you can definitely help it to grow by doing so!

Pelicans over Eleven Mile Reservoir

As always, the best of these images and hundreds 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 gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Bird & Wildflower Alpine Hike

A local hike through the alpine woods of Grouse Mountain seemed like the right medicine for a beautiful Colorado Sunday morning so I loaded up my camera and headed for the hills. Much to my satisfaction, when I arrived there was no one at the trailhead. I would have the mountain to myself.  Unfortunately as I hiked the steep access trail a carload of tourists roared up the hated road to the summit. When I arrived they were already out of their huge SUV tearing around with their loose dogs, scaring away any chance I might have had with the local wildlife 😦

Mountain Bluebird

No matter, a quick hike through the woods to the second summit, Big Grouse Mountain, would do the trick. No one ever makes that hike, and up there I would have the chance of spotting the elusive dusky grouse that I so enjoy photographing! Soon I popped through the forest into the solitude that often accompanies 11,000 feet of elevation πŸ˜‰ There I stopped for rest and some nourishment before continuing on. I opened my energy bar and took a bite. Something didn’t taste right so I took a closer look and it appeared that perhaps some mold had formed on the surface… a closer look revealed what appeared to be a couple of worms 😦 They weren’t moving and could have possibly been some kind of grain or herb, but in my mind they were worms, so much for nourishment.

I decided at that point to shoot a video so I got my microphone out of my bag and explained my intentions for the day. The wildflowers are magnificent today so I shot a bit of footage of the color spreading out before me in the high clearing. Eventually I was back on my way along the faint trail at the top of the ridge. Soon I noticed that my new microphone was no longer in the hot shoe where it belonged so I was forced to retrace my steps in search of it 😦 Thankfully I was able to recover it near the location where I shot the video. This time I returned it safely to it’s home in my backpack.

I never did see the dusky grouse but I got some nice wildflower pictures, a couple with huge bumblebees and a few nice shots of an accommodating mountain bluebird πŸ™‚ Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and if you enjoy the content I hope you will subscribe to my channel!

Amazing Alpine Hike with the Elk Herd

Funny how things work out… As I sat sipping my coffee this morning I decided I didn’t want to do any driving today. For one thing gas prices are insane, and for another… I really don’t like spending time on the road. So the plan I worked out included a short drive to my favorite trailhead and a good hard hike.

When I reached the first summit it was so pretty and quiet out that I decided to stop and capture a few seconds of video and post it as a greeting on Facebook. I sat and enjoyed the ambiance for a few minutes while the video clip uploaded and then I headed back down the trail. But then I began to hear the birds singing over in the woods, some song that I didn’t recognize. So I decided to take the hike to the next summit and hoped I might catch a glimpse of the new birds.

Herd of elk in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

As I neared that summit I could see over to the next high peak, and on it was a beautiful herd of elk. I knew if I cleared the summit they would see me and take off, so I quietly got my camera ready and began to film and photograph. As I watched through my long lens I wondered what the cows were looking at so I moved up a bit further and saw thatΒ  they were watching over their crop of new calves! It was then that I knew for sure I was going to have to make a real video πŸ™‚

I filmed for awhile and then decided not to disturb them by walking toward them so I just went back down through the forest the way I came. As I neared forest edge a grouse startled me by jumping out of the grass right at my feet and flying into a nearby tree. I got a few seconds of footage of that guy and took a few stills before he grew annoyed with me and flew away for good. But I was glad to see the little fellows have returned to my mountain. They normally like to run along the ground on the high ridges so perhaps I’ll get some better pictures of him another time.

Dusky Grouse in the Morning Light

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and if you wouldn’t mind and you like the content, please like and subscribe!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds 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 gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Boot Review – Salomon Quest 4 3 GTX

I’ve been wearing these hiking boots for about a month now… Got them in Alamosa when we were down visiting the Sand Dunes and the Sandhill Crane refuges during an unexpected car maintenance break. Turns out they have a pretty nice Kristi Mountain Sports sporting goods store there right on Highway 160 close to the repair shop, so we decided to go in and kill a little time. I’m always in the market for a good pair of hiking boots so that’s the first place I went and the Salomon Quest 4 3 GTX caught my eye right away. And as you can see from the link, GearLab liked them too!

IMG_20210425_105038457Right off I discovered that the sizing was spot on. Usually I have to get a boot that’s a half to a full size larger in order to keep the toe box from squishing my toes together so I had the very helpful salesman bring me a size 11. I wanted to try a 10.5 but they didn’t happen to have that size in stock. So I gave the 11’s a try and after a short bit of walking in the store I could tell that they were just way too long. The salesman offered to bring me a size 10 so I thought what the heck, can’t hurt to try. Much to my surprise the size 10 fit like a glove. They fit my size 10 feet precisely and the generous toe box was wide at exactly the right point to avoid squishing my toes.

After a short walk I noticed that the sole was a bit stiffer than I’m used to but after a month of wearing them in the mountains I can attest to the fact that the extra support is a real blessing on rocky trails. These boots were comfortable with no hot spots right out of the box requiring no breaking in. That’s saying something since my left foot is fairly jacked up from a bad accident as a kid that causes no end of problems for my feet in a lot of hiking boot models.

I really like the extra long lacing system that smoothly cinches up comfortably with a single pull of the laces. The Gortex membrane holds up perfectly even when submerged in water. I recently had a chance to wade out into a shallow section of the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon and even though the uppers were completely submerged, not one drop of water leaked through. Now of course if you wade into the deep water there is nothing to stop the boots from filling from the ankle opening.

The rugged outsole has excellent traction, carrying me up a steep and somewhat icy embankment where I like to observe my favorite osprey family. You can confidently feel the new Contagrip tread grabbing onto the terrain as you stride up even the most treacherous mountain conditions. I also find these hikers to be quite airy for such a formidable waterproof boot, providing comfort on even the warmest hikes.

I took these out for my longest hike of the season yesterday on the warmest day of the year, walking through rocky fields, snow, mud and even some ice. After several miles of these harsh conditions, plus steep ascents and descents my feet remained comfortable and blister free. Excellent stability prevented fatigue and exquisite construction provided uniform comfort over the entirety of my foot anatomy. All in all, I have to say… these are the best summer hikers I have ever owned, they are pure joy to wear! Salomon has certainly earned Gearlab’s highest honors for this shoe!

This blog post was not sponsored by Salomon or any other company. All gear used in the production of this post were purchase by me on my own volition.

Deer on the Mountain

My expectations for photography were low on this morning, I was late and people and dogs had already been through the park. Generally in this situation I don’t see so much as a rabbit on the trail. But no matter, I need the exercise and this is the only trail nearby on which I can count on a good workout.

Herd of Mule Deer

But much to my surprise, right in their favorite grazing location was the entire herd. The wind was in my face and I was being extra quiet so I spotted them before they spotted me πŸ™‚ I readied my camera and slowing crested the hill. The deer herd eventually saw me but they didn’t appear to be very alarmed, so I just began taking pictures.Β  I was able to capture some good closeups before they began to meander towards the edge of the mountain and the dense forest.

Once they were out of range for intimate imagery I decided to take some video I was narrating while I was shooting but for some reason, probably having something to do with my new cheapie selfie stick, I recorded no audio. However I put my mind to it and finally learned how to do voice over with my desktop software and was still able to make a nice video πŸ™‚

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and if you don’t mind I would really appreciate a thumbs up and a subscribe. It

Herd of Mule Deer

would really help my channel to grow!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds 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 gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

The Road to Quandary

The plan today was a mile and a half hike on my usual trail… but when I got up the hill I felt great and decided to press on. Before I was done I had hiked all the way to the end where I filmed a break and decided that I felt so strong that I made the announcement that a 14er was in my future!

The last time I climbed a 14, 000 foot peak was Mount Columbia back in 2016 I think. I have been wanting to scale a 14er in my 60’s since that birthday in 2018.

Well any I managed to put together a pretty cool video to go with this post and I hope you enjoy the scenery!!!

Weathering the Storm

New YouTube video of my snowshoe hike in the howling wind and driving snow on top of Grouse Mountain Colorado. Wasn’t able to record audio on the mountain due to the tremendous winds but I hope you enjoy the beauty of such harsh conditions! My Ruggard rain cover performed admirably on my camera, very easy to use and provided excellent protection for the camera, especially for such a great price! Looks like my minor repair on my MSR snowshoes is holding after accidentally running over them with my truck last year 😦

Ground Blizzard

Neither the video nor this blog post was sponsored, all equipment used in the production were purchased on my own volition.

As always, the best of these images and hundreds 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 gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Watch “Spectacular Mountain Sunrise” on YouTube

New YouTube video of my adventure at sunrise with the Sangre de Cristo range and breakfast in historic Victor Colorado!

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