Epic Collision

https://youtu.be/qjMUztvC2J4

Rams at the River

A beautiful autumn day in Colorado lured me to Waterton Canyon where I hoped that I would have the opportunity to photograph the bighorn sheep rams coming down to the river too cool off and maybe even practice their fighting skills in preparation for the upcoming rut season.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As always in Waterton Canyon, my trusty mountain bike would carry me upstream along the South Platte River to the best sheep viewing locations. As I rode along my eyes scanned the canyon walls for signs of action among the wildlife. I have only seen the bears one time, but I always hope for another sighting! On the way in I did encounter a hawk, but by the time I was ready to shoot he was long gone.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

Eventually I reached the upper dam where I have had good luck photographing them coming down the opposite bank. Sure enough, I spotted a big ram making his way out from the shady oasis on the cliff side where they seem to be residing lately. As I watched and waited more and more of their band began to emerge from the darkness of the shade under the pine trees growing right out of the rock. Then suddenly as ifย  the boss had put the word out, they all rushed down to the side of the river for a drink ๐Ÿ™‚

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As they crowded into the lush grass on the embankment, they occasionally would clunk their heads together as they jockeyed for position along the beautiful south bank of the river. I was fortunate to be able to film a couple of the encounters, the collision of horns ringing out like a gunshot through the valley.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

The rams remained at water’s edge for about an hour and a half before heading back up the embankment towards their shady spot. I slowly rode back downstream, looking carefully for more sheep and other wildlife that I might encounter. Eventually I spotted a small herd of females and lambs peeking over the cliff on the north side of the canyon so I stopped for a few shots of that action. They eventually came down and joined a larger group that were just lying in the shade on this hot lazy autumn day.

Autumn Colors on the South Platte River

Finally the lighting was just too terrible for photography so headed for home where later in the day I got some nice fall foliage along another part of the South Platte.

For your enjoyment I have also created a nice five minute multimedia video for my YouTube channel, of the rams coming down to the river and occasionally banging heads as they prepare for the upcoming rut season ! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channelย  if you would like to see more of my adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons more of my images are displayed!

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!

A Wild Weekend

A wild weekend indeed, starting with the Waterton Canyon bighorn sheep herd! Camera buddy Kevin and I arrived at the trailhead not too long after sunrise hoping to see the big rams somewhere along the riverside trail.

_MG_1910.jpg

A stiff chilly breeze was blowing down the canyon on the way up, enough for cold fingers and ears! Knowing that the window for seeing the animals is wide and unpredictable, we took our time on the ride up. Without seeing any sign of the beasties, we arrived at the picnic area just beyond the crossover bridge and decided to take a long break to rest up and wait for the rams to come down from the high peaks towering above the canyon.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Autumn

Eventually we decided to ride back down and wait by the old dam where the rams often come down for a drink of water from the river.ย  I imagine we whiled away another hour talking and visiting with hikers and other mountain bike riders. Finally when we were just about ready to give up we heard a holler from from another guy that was resting with us… he was pointing in the direction of the cliffs so we hopped on our bikes and headed over to see what was up!

And there they were, at least eight rams hanging around on the cliff side, snacking on the dry mountain grass and occasionally butting heads to practice up for the upcoming rut season. Eventually they meandered down to the river where we tried to reach the shoreline without bothering them too much and got a few shots of them getting a drink.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Autumn

Figuring the show was over for a few hours anyway, we decided to call it a day. however on the way down we ran into the ewe and youngster herd, and they also were on their way down for a drink. A nice bonus to round out an already great day ๐Ÿ™‚ In addition to some fun still pictures, I managed to remember to shoot some video as well… I didn’t have my fluid head tripod along so my footage isn’t that great but I did put together a nice montage set to music for my YouTube channel. If you like, be sure to subscribe to my channel! I am still a few subscribers short of being able to get a custom URL for my channel!

Red-tailed Hawk

Another bonus for the wild weekend was a red-tailed hawk sighting this morning. I wasn’t prepared for a bird in flight picture when he took off, but with a 500th of a second shutter speed I managed to get a couple nice ones ๐Ÿ™‚

Today will of course be spent processing and backing up hundreds of images. Perhaps if I get done soon enough maybe I’ll start getting my gear ready for our annual pilgrimage to Rocky Mountain National Park! I’m definitely going to have a list this year… Last year I forgot my sleeping bag and only had my winter parka to use as a blanket… Froze my butt off… almost literally!

For your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channelย  if you would like to see more of our adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons of my images are displayed!

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!

Red-tailed Hawk

A Better Morning

Deer in the Pike National Forest

I awoke yesterday to a scratchy throat and burning eyes, a southwest wind had blown a ton of smoke from the Durango wildfire into the valley. Since I could barely breath a hike seemed like a poor idea ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Fortunately for us here in Cripple Creek, sometime in the night a cold front blew through and changed the wind around to the north. The smoke has cleared and this is a much better morning, I could actually see the mountains! I hope the cooler weather helps the firefighters battle the blaze, it has been way to windy and dry lately.

I started my morning out with a little jaunt up to Gillette Flats on a tip that the bighorn sheep were paying highway 67 a visit, but by the time I got there only a solitary scraggly looking ewe remained, the ram and the rest of the herd had already vanished into the dense pine forest above. The sheep are blowing their winter coats this time of year so they are kind of a mess and not very photogenic, she almost looks like an alien! I can never pass up an opportunity to photograph a bighorn though, so I stopped for a couple of portraits of her.

Bighorn Sheep Ewe in the Rockies

She didn’t pay me a lot of attention but on the couple occasions she looked at me I got the shots ๐Ÿ™‚

After that little session I decided to go back to my usual hiking trail just to keep in shape and get in a couple miles of hiking at altitude. Luck was in my favor as I spotted the Three Amigos feeding on the hillside. As always, they kept a curious eye on me as they changed positions on their way up the hillside to the cool shade of the dense pine forest.

Deer in the Pike National Forest

Nothing to jump up and down about as far as pictures go, but I always enjoy the spiritual refreshing that only solitude on a mountaintop can provide.

As always, the best of these images 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!

Magical Day in the Canyon

One of my most favorite places in the entire world reopened after being closed for months due to the accursed Covid-19 pandemic. I started the day with high hopes, pictures of the bighorn and a bear filled the Waterton Canyon Group and I was so hoping to get my chance today.

Hummingbird on a Perch

The mountain bike ride along this beautiful stretch of the South Platte River as it flows down out of the Rockies on it’s way through Nebraska where it connects with the Mighty Missouri is about six miles one way, unless of course you have the skills to continue on the single track portion of the Colorado Trail! It is not always easy to catch the animals at the river, you have to be at the right place at the right time so I just took a leisurely pedal all the way to the top of the canyon.Strontia Springs Dam is the high point of my ride and I stopped there at the picnic tables to take a break, having seen nothing to photograph for the entire six miles. While sitting there I spotted a cute little hummingbird resting on the very top of a small tree… I wondered if I could get a shot, got out the camera and gave it a try. Fortunately the little fellow sat there for a while and then returned a couple of times giving me time to catch him in a few poses ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually I mounted my bike and began coasting back down, intently watching the canyon walls and the river for the sheep and the bear. I stopped a few times to take breaks and waste time hoping the beasties would come down, all the while asking others on their way up and down if they had seen any animals.

Couple of Bighorn Lambs Playing

Finally near the bottom I refused to give up and decided to ride back up a ways to the the lower dam where I planned to stop for aย  while and hope for the best. As I neared the dam I spotted a few bighorn ewes down by the water on the opposite side of the river from where I usually see them. I snapped a couple of boring pictures of the scraggly looking ewes by the water and then I noticed a couple of lambs further up the cliff side playing on a plateau. Fortunately I captured them playfully butting heads which made for a great picture which I have already uploaded to my website , one of the most magical scenes I have ever photographed ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t think so while I was there because the sun was so

Herd of Bighorn Sheep Ewes and Lambs

bright I could hardly see anything, much less the LCD on the back of the camera! But now that I am home looking at the images on the computer I am pretty happy ๐Ÿ™‚

I wanted to catch some video but the whole show was over within about 15 minutes and about the time I thought about it they were already bedding down. Nothing interesting about animals sleeping ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Eventually the mama ewe noticed that the little ones were not with the main group anymore and the little band of females began the climb up the canyon walls to search for the wayward youngsters. She must have had a pretty good idea of their whereabouts as they went right to them. Soon the entire herd found a shady spot to escape the intense front range heat and lay down for their afternoon nap.

Female Common Merganser

I packed up my equipment and began the ride to the bottom while continuing to hope for a bear sighting. I didn’t see a bear but I did run across these cool looking Common Merganser female ducks which were worth getting the equipment back out for a few captures! After that I was already past all the good animal viewing locations so I pedaled hard back to the parking lot. All in all a pretty good day… a 12 or 14 mile bike ride in spectacular mountain scenery can never be a bad thing!

As always, the best of these images 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!

Chaos in the Canyon

Cold and dreary today, my bones ache so I can be pretty sure winter is returning to the high country tomorrow. That was definitely not the story yesterday though, it was nice enough in the mountains but it felt like summer in Waterton Canyon. Beautiful day for a mountain bike ride so even though I was running behind from my trip to Englewood Camera, there was no way I was going to miss out on that!

Beautiful Blue Water of the South Platte in the Rockies

On the mountain bike ride up the canyon I saw evidence of the bighorns, mainly in the form of rocks strewn all over the trail in a couple of prime spots but unfortunately I didn’t see any animals. Stopped on my way back down to try out my 4 stop ND filter on a particularly beautiful spot on the river. Got some nice pictures but the water is really not running fast enough at the moment to warrant a motion blur picture. The canyon walls were dark and would remain so until late afternoon, long after I intended to be on my way home.

Sometimes I like to ride hard on the way down but this day I just took up a leisurely pace

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

hoping to give the sheep time to come down from the mountaintops for a photo op. As I rounded a bend about three miles in I saw a small group of ewes and perhaps one young ram gathered by the river. I rode in just close enough to get set up without disturbing them and readied my gear. It was looking like my 28-105 would be the right lens for the situation, the big 400 mm was not going to be necessary with the critters right on the road and I was hoping to get a wide angle video of them at the stream getting their daily drink of water from the South Platte.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

It all started out well, the sheep ventured down the riverbank to the beautiful pristine blue water of the headwaters of the Platte for their drinks and I moved over to a rocky outcropping in the stream for a good view. All was going well until some other hikers and a couple of horses appeared on the scene. The little herd ran back up the embankment onto the dirt road at the edge of the cliffs and began to feed on the grass and make their way to their

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

trail back up the mountainside. Finally they were out of range for the wide angle so I switched to the big 400mm lens.

As they were meandering up the hillside they dislodged a couple rocks which made quite a noise, scaring the horses who took off running in the other direction. The thundering hooves scared the sheep who then high tailed it to the top of the ledge, knocking a bunch more rocks down, which of course dislodged even more rocks in my direction. I wisely scampered to the opposite side of the road keeping a close eye on a few hefty threats rolling toward me in case I needed to dive out of the way!

Fly Fisherman in the South Platte River

Finally the chaos subsided, the horses stopped running and the sheep went back to eating. But they hadn’t forgotten… every animals was keeping a wary eye on those horses as their riders coaxed them back into their trek up the canyon. it did make for some interesting pictures, all the sheep lined up in a row at the top of the ledge ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually I packed up and headed back down the canyon. I knew there would be no more sheep so I pedaled hard to the trailhead for my long drive back to the mountains.

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool gift items are also available with a beautiful mountain scene, including apparel, bedding and pillows, shower curtains, coffee mugs and tech gadgets includingย  battery chargers and phone cases!

I have also created a YouTube video on my channel for some HD footage of the action! Please subscribe if you like! I have a long way to go to get my first 100 subscribers so I can get my own custom URL!

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!

Some Christmas Sheep

According to the weather forecast today looked like an excellent day for a photo excursion to beautiful

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

Waterton Canyon for some bighorn sheep pictures. Snow last night and cold this morning threatened to put a damper on those plans but I managed to force myself out the door anyway, thinking the exercise would be a good idea before Christmas dinner!

Eventually photo buddy Kevin and I reached the parking lot and got out to prepare our bikes and gear for the ride up the dirt road along the pristine waters of the beautiful South Platte River on it’s journey out of the Rocky Mountains. It was here that we realized that the blue sky and sunshine were a little deceptive this day. There was a stiff wind blowing and any ideas of shelter in the canyon were soon dispelled by reality ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The canyon had become more of a wind tunnel than a shelter and it was a hard fight pedaling uphill against the stiff breeze.

No sheep at the primary sheep viewing location so we headed further into the canyon.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

No sheep at the second location either and conversation turned to what a great workout we wereย  getting in lieu of the awesome wildlife imagery that we had envisioned ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Past the yellow house we pedaled, and on past the big reservoir too… Finally along the last vestiges of cliff wall we spotted a lone ewe walking along the road, and then another. The pair were making their way up the road and soon hopped onto the cliffs in deep shade where the lighting was less than stellar. We took a few shots there, looking often towards the cliffs where they had come down from in the first place.

Finally, a few sheep appeared in the lovely morning light spilling onto the rugged cliffs along the north side

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

of the canyon, so we picked up our bikes and gear and meandered down towards the new action. Eventually some rams appeared high on the cliffs, out of range of our cameras… and unfortunately did not descend before we were out of time… being Christmas day and all ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But we got some pictures and it was indeed an awesome workout. Clearly I need to spend moreย  time on my bike and less time at the computer screen! On the upside, my new Tamrac Anvil 23 pack was a great success, holding all my gear with space to spare and so comfortable that I hardly noticed that I was wearing it on my back! Soon I will be using to pack my new video friendly tripod so that I can add some motion to my imagery and contribute to my YouTube site!

Ultimately I did manage to get a few images that I like so I hope you like them! A couple are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing!