Sangre Mountain Sunrise

Sangre de Cristo mountain sunrise

There is nothing like watching the alpenglow at sunrise in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Colorado!

Moonset in the Rockies

Followed by the setting of the moon ๐Ÿ™‚

Grandeur

Rough legged hawk Soaring Above the Rockies

Sometimes in the morning I stop to just thank God for the grandeur of the surroundings that He has blessed me with. These majestic mountains, the beautiful wildlife and the peacefulness of this incredible wilderness. And this morning I was doing exactly that when I noticed this rough legged hawk soaring high above me.

It is a good omen I think, a sign that the almighty was listening to my grateful prayer ๐Ÿ™‚ It is also my prayer that through my pictures others will see His handiwork and appreciate the wonderful gift that He has given us in this amazing planet with all it’s wonders.

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

Exploring Skagway Reservoir

Another day with no definite plan… Not that that is anything unusual, I rarely have a plan other than to wake up and have coffee. One of the ideas that has been rattling around in the background of my mind for a while has been to make the jaunt from Victor over to Skagway Reservoir.ย  As the coffee soaked in andย consciousness slowly began to percolate it occurred to me that today could be that day!

Foggy Mount Pisgah

First of all though, a stop at Grouse Mountain for my first climb to the overlook with Big Dog since my clutch bit the dust last January. I knew it was way too foggy to see the Sangre but I took the camera along in hopes that we might see some elk or deer. No luck with that, but the fog turned the nearby mountains into mystical ghostly shapes that created a completely different scene than usual. After a nice walk through the woods we climbed back into Old Faithful and headed for Victor. I was hoping that the fog had extended to the old mines there for some more cool photo ops but the sky was clear and bright and the mines were the same as always. I didn’t make any effort to get more of the same old photographs there.

Off to Phantom Canyon Road to the Skagway turnoff. Can’t say I was too impressed with the long washboard gravel road… Very annoying. No wildlife and no good views to photograph anywhere along the road either. Perhaps had we gotten an earlier start there would have been some mist and wildlife but 9:00 a.m. must be nap time for the local critters. The drive was so long and rough that I was about to give up when I saw what appeared to be a few cars parked in the distance. Must be it I thought, so I persevered, finally… success! Placid water and a dam came into view along with a few fishermen who had also braved the dirt road.

Skagway Reservoir

As we pulled in I could barely see the water through the glare of the morning sun… I noticed that I could see much better with sunglasses on so I figured this might be a good time for my B&W circular polarizer. It didn’t take long to discover the best vantage point for a shot… water like glass with the south Face of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak in the background. Big Dog was of course way more interested in the plethora of prairie dogs that were scurrying about the place foraging for food ๐Ÿ™‚

Wild Turkeys

I still held out hope that I would spot some wildlife on the return trip and it wasn’t long before I spotted a rafter of turkeys… Why a “rafter”? Well apparently according to this entertaining website, in the days of old the word raft used to mean collection ๐Ÿ™‚ Well anyway a few shots of the large birds and we were on our way home to review the day’s photographic bounty. Unfortunately on this day the images looked better on the camera than they do on the computer, but it was still a nice day and now I have seen the reservoir which by the way has quite an interesting history!

The reservoir itself was constructed in 1899 followed in 1901 by an electrical power station a few miles down Beaver Creek. At one time there was a tramway to the power station but after a major flood the station and apparently the tram were destroyed. According to the Mountain Jackpot there was a massive rainfall on Woodland Park and Cripple Creek that overwhelmed the Skagway dam burying the reservoir in 15 feet of debris and destroying the power pipeline which was never repaired. The power station survived but is now on accessible by hiking down the rugged terrain through Beaver Creek.

These images and more are now available on my website for purchase as wall art and commercial stock! Stay tuned, my next adventure is still in the planning stage but I hope to get out to Cottonwood Pass where I will explore the trail to the mountain goat viewing area ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Spring Returns

Couldn’t think of a catchy title so I just went with the obvious. Last weekend began with a hike in -13 degree weather so this morning felt like spring again. Today wasn’t exactly balmy at 16 but it felt a heck of a lot better than last week! I was hoping for a much earlier start, well at least a darker start this morning with the time change, but I didn’t set an alarm and consequently I slept way past the golden hour for interesting photography. I should probably never set my hopes too high on the first day off following a week of arising at 4:45 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Rough Legged HawkWell anyway, the sun was well up, all the nice color gone from the sky and way too much haze already formed by the time I was able to get moving this morning. On the upside, I did manage to get dressed and get out the door Not too far into my hike with the big dog I noticed the Rough Legged Hawk eyeing us from atop one of our new light posts that now grace the streets on my end of town. I prepared my camera settings for a majestic flight that I knew would ensue as soon as we approached the big bird… but it didn’t happen. After a bit he did fly, but only to the next light post so this was going to require a new tactic… I hooked dog to one of the nearby fence posts and approached the hawk slowly and quietly hoping for a closeup of him on the light post.

The big bird of prey payed almost no attention to me at all and I was able to just walk right up and shoot away, with him sort of eyeing me sideways just in case. I’m not too impressed with my shots, not a fan of birds just sitting on a perch. But it is what it is and soon we were on our way to my favorite nearby mountain view. The haze was way too heavy for a decent shot of the Sangre, but of course I had to shoot a couple anyway… if for no other reason than to be able to claim that I was there!

Hazy Sangre de Cristo

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado in heavy haze on a beautiful spring morning

Slipping the Bonds

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds, โ€” and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of โ€” wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung my eager craft through footless halls of airโ€ฆ .” John Gillespie Magee Jr.

Hawk soaring

Bird of prey soaring overhead

OK, so technically my feet are still on the ground, but when I am in the solitude of mountains above 11,000 feet with the hawks and the eagles soaring overhead it feels like I have slipped the bonds of earth. Today it also feels like I have finally slipped the bonds of civilization. I have been a bit disappointed since moving here that I have not been able to find an easy way to get beyond the limits of the town and into the wilderness that taunts me from the edges of town. To make matters worse, the clutch went out on the old Dodge a couple of weeks ago and I have been limited to the distance that my feet will carry me. Today I decided that Big Dog and I were going to find a way past the dreaded cattle guard and explore the mountainside on the southwest side of town. Fortunately someone has taken down the gate beside the guard so that my four footed hiking buddy could pass and we were home free.

Sangre de Cristo Winter Morning

Sangre de Cristo Winter Morning

We made our way to a hilltop where there is an awesome view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range and few people have experienced. I love it when Iย  get out to views that I know not many people have set eyes upon ๐Ÿ™‚ Didn’t see any large wildlife, but there are hawks and eagles circling the hillsides there and they are a challenge to photograph to be sure!

As I looked around I noticed a wealth of excellent mountain bike trails that I will have to explore that are well beyond the distance that my feet would like to take me. One of my great disappointments in the Woodland Park area was the dearth of places to ride a bike without getting killed by bike hating lunatics in pickup trucks. My bike has been chained to the wall since moving here and I’m sure the tires are flat but hopefully they aren’t dry rotted as well because I can’t wait to get out there ๐Ÿ™‚

I am also determined to remember to bring along my circular polarizer as I believe it would dramatically add to the appeal of the distant Sangre’s. But for the rest of today though, me and Big Dog will be content to hide from the wicked wind that has developed on this mountaintop! A sandblasting is not something that I feel I need ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Maybe tomorrow!

As always, these pictures and more will be available on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas, matted and framed and as RF stock for those needing commercial licensing. Also available are many cool gift and household items including yoga mats, blankets, pillows, apparel, batteryย  chargers and more!