Smokey Autumn

A quick check of the weather forecast this morning dictated what I might be able to accomplish. Smoke from all the fires is everywhere but today the report particularly called out the valleys for air quality concerns. I was

Fall Colors in the Rockies

thinking of making my first outing since my return from Rocky a trip to Eleven Mile but with all the smoke I decided I’d be better off visiting a peak rather than a valley.

So I decided upon my usual trailhead in hopes of spotting a few deer and maybe even some elk. In the absence of those I figured I’d see some nice aspen trees changing color and maybe even the hawk or some other birds. Unfortunately a guy with a Vesper Sparrow in the Morningdog beat me to the trailhead so there were no big animals to be found and the hawks were in hiding as well.

But the trees were pretty and I was visited by a couple of cute little vesper sparrows at trail’s end. I took a drive up to Victor Pass to see if the colors have changed on Pikes Peak, but there was too much smoke in the sky to see the state of colors on the peak.

These were my  favorite pictures of the half dozen or so that I’m going to publish later this morning. Please feel free to visit and follow my Instagram page for the rest of this morning’s plus hundreds more!

For your enjoyment I have also created a library of multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  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!

Fall Colors in the Rockies

Spectacular Morning

I was up early and according to the weather channel it was going to be a beautiful morning… no excuse not to grab the camera and head for the wilderness! It seemed extra dark as I drove down the canyon and I worried that there would be no light on the river and the trip was going to be wasted. As I cleared the canyon a strange red glow steamed through the window into the front seat so I took a quick glance to the east.

Autumn Sunrise

I could not believe my eyes, the sky was on fire! I spotted a side road and quickly pulled over. My long lens was attached in preparation for wildlife photography but I knew that the effect would last but a few moments, so I quickly grabbed the camera and fired off a few shots. Seeing that there was a bit more time I put on a wide angle and snapped a few more. And then just like that, the color was gone. It’s amazing how fleeting these great moments can be!

Great Blue Heron in Flight

The canyon was cold this morning… even though the day was supposed to be relatively warm, the nights are definitely getting colder! Luckily I had an extra hoodie and a pair of gloves in the back seat! I didn’t see the eagles but I brought my long visit chair along anyway, thought I might just rest awhile and hope for a herd of deer or a bear to wander into the meadow on the opposite side of the icy river.

Great Blue Heron in Flight

The only action I could see was a few ducks milling around in the icy South Platte River and a few sparrows busying themselves along the waters edge. Pretty soon a fisherman came along to annoy me so I decided to wander over to the dam for a look see. I always approach slowly in hopes that I will catch the great blue heron, but I got to day dreaming as I approached and he flew right past me! I didn’t even have time to get my camera ready. But the heron made an unusual maneuver… a short flight and a landing near a vantage point on the shoreline. As stealthily as I could I crept through the reeds to the shoreline. There he was, standing in the shallow water… I ducked below a thicket of reeds and brought up my camera… That unfortunately was enough, off he went again… but at least I was ready and got a couple of him flying by 🙂

Bald Eagle Perching

By then it was getting hot and I had to shed a couple of layers so I went back to the truck. As always I scanned the eagle’s area and noticed a spec of bright white up in the trees! So I quickly snapped a picture just in case and  grabbed my chair again to take up an observation position. But by the time I got to the best spot though, the eagle was gone. In the meantime the two osprey that I thought had already flown south were soaring high in the clear blue Colorado sky! Far to distant for a good picture, but if you want to see him you can check my Instagram page where

Peregrine Falcon Flying Overhead

I have displayed a few more from today’s action. I don’t know what there habits of the young osprey are these days, they are never at the nest or the wide spot in the river where I was accustomed to seeing them so I had assumed they were gone! Apparently the warm weather we have been enjoying has kept them around. A peregrine falcon also made a flyby and of course there were also a few geese randomly landing and taking off. Please feel free to follow my page if you don’t want to miss the next adventure!

All in all it was a spectacular morning indeed!

For your enjoyment I have created a library of multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  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!

Snow on the Sangre

It has been a long time since I have seen the Sangre de Cristo, the fires of summer have left them totally obscured for months. Finally cooler weather, some snow and rain and calmer winds have helped with progress on

Mountain Blue Bird

putting out the fires. The air isn’t completely clear yet but I was able to see the majestic mountain range well enough to see the new mantle of white snow 🙂

Apparently it isn’t cool enough yet to attract the elk or deer herds, but there are plenty of birds! The high meadow on top of the mountain was filled with mountain blue birds and vesper sparrows this morning 🙂 It remains a mystery to me however, how do these birds know to get between me and the sun so that I can’t get a picture in this beautiful early morning light??? Looks like the fall colors are coming early this year! Not sure what the reason is for that, probably just because it is 2020…

Red-tailed Hawk

Both of my favorite red-tail hawks were waiting for me at the bottom of the mountain. Unfortunately they flew away from me in the wrong direction so I couldn’t get a nice picture of them in flight. This one on the light post will have to do for today. I’ll be back tomorrow though, hoping for a better angle!

Snow on the SangreFor your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

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!

Snow on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado by #swkrullimaging

Vaya Con Dios my Feathered Friends

A cold quiet sunrise greeted me at Eleven Mile Canyon. One of  my favorite places for wildlife photography was formerly teeming with life through spring and summer but on this crisp autumn morning the river was silent. There were no herds of deer gathering in the clearing on the opposite bank of the South Platte River, no beaver hard at work in the reeds and no birds chirping. The only sound was that of the gurgling river on it’s journey through the Rocky Mountains and across Nebraska to join the Mighty Missouri.

Sunrise on the South Platte River

As the sun arose to greet the icy pristine water,  plumes of steam swirled around and combined with the fog forming from above. It was a beautiful tranquil scene, a fitting greeting to the changing seasons, autumn and the relentless approach of the Rocky Mountain Winter. As the morning sunlight conquered the darkness a lone bald eagle greeted me from far above, intently watching over the scene from her perch in the treetops.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

Eventually I decided to venture deeper into the canyon hoping for signs of life along the roaring whitewater, or perhaps near the placid pool above that.  Only the sound of the rushing water greeted me as I strode past the home of the peregrine falcons, perhaps they have already embarked upon their annual southward migration.

As I neared the osprey nest the incessant chirping of the juvenile osprey was conspicuously absent, the nest high above cold and empty. The two young raptors had been spending a lot of time watching over shallow waters in a meadow upstream so I just American Dipper  in Eleven Mile Canyonkept walking, hoping for one more chance to photograph the majestic creatures.

Finally, a lone American dipper greeted me at the prime fishing spot… Hopping around on the rocks, occasionally jumping into the ice cold water in search of sustenance. I whiled away the time observing the shenanigans of the energetic little bird, trying over and over for the perfect capture as I awaited the return of the osprey.

Osprey Soaring and Fishing

I repeated scanned the valley above and  below for the osprey hoping to see their triumphant return from a fishing trip, prey firmly in the grasp of  their mighty talons. But the moment did not come, the treetops remained silent,  the river in sole possession of the tiny birds of autumn. It appears that the cold snowy weather that enveloped Colorado earlier in the week has convinced them that it was time to begin their odyssey southward to the warm waters of Central America where they will spend two to three years maturing and gaining in strength and skill before once again venturing north in search of a mate and suitable breeding ground.

Osprey Fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon

Vaya Con Dios my beautiful feathered friends, may He watch over you and keep you safe in your travels. I look forward to your return to this magnificent canyon someday.

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 channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

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 Lot of Birds

Pair of Bald EaglesStopped in at Eleven Mile Canyon to see if the osprey were still there, hoping for some pictures… It was foggy, a weather phenomenon that I was hoping would add some atmosphere to my images! I took a quick look up at the eagles nest and much to my surprise both adult bald eagles were in the nest! Unfortunately the fog was so dense that I could barely see them but I fired off a couple of shots anyway. I was hoping to be able to catch one in flight heading out for a fishing trip but the fog grew even more heavy, so thick that I couldn’t even see the nest. By the time the fog cleared a bit the eagles had already departed.

Osprey and Fish

It was a quiet morning on rivers edge, no sign of deer or beaver,  I wasn’t hearing any sign of the peregrines or the osprey either so I just hiked upstream with my eyes and ears trained on the banks for signs of wildlife. Eventually I heard the unmistakable sound of the osprey calling. They were beyond the nest near the wide spot in the river upstream. I hiked up there and took up a position on a rock hoping to witness a thrilling dive into the placid water for a fish. Each osprey took a turn at flight, each returning with a good sized fish. I’m not sure where they are fishing but it was definitely not where I was!

Song Sparrow in Eleven Mile Canyon

The osprey each found a perch high on a tree on the mountainside and I knew that with a big fish to feast on they wouldn’t be moving any time soon. I decided to hike  back out and check on the eagles when I heard some chirping down by the river… further investigation revealed a flock of little birds hopping around on the opposite river bank. I’ve been hoping for the opportunity to photograph the little American dippers so I scampered over the rocks down to the riverbank where I set up my gear for a photo shoot 🙂

Yellow Rumped Warbler in Eleven Mile Canyon

I thought I was shooting American dippers based on behavior, hopping around the waters edge looking for food… but it wasn’t until I was on the desktop computer at home that I realized I had been watching several little bird species in the water. There  were grey ones, brown ones, yellow ones and more! it turned out to be quite a day after all!

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 channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

Birds in Eleven Mile Canyon

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!

Another Excellent Adventure

Bald Eagle on Nest

It was another excellent morning for photography at Eleven Mile Canyon. First of all I was glad to see that reports of a wildfire in the area were either not true or the fire is already out, no smoke anywhere in the area 🙂 I arrived just before sunrise and went immediately down to water’s edge to check for any action in the river below the dam. On a lucky day I might see the big beaver working on his lodge or even the osprey fishing for trout in the placid water. As I was getting my camera ready I spotted the great blue heron already on his daily return flight from the reeds and fish in the calm water above the dam. Unfortunately  I was not able to capture the

Tree Squirrel Eating

daily event as I was still fiddling with batteries and lenses 😦 I did however, notice that there was some movement in the eagles nest that I haven’t seen for some time! It was one of the adult bald eagles sitting on the nest and I quickly readied my camera for an eagle sitting still shot… Tv mode with a 400th of a second, ISO 640, F9 and -1/3 exposure compensation so as not to blow out the bright white on the eagle’s head!

Pair of Canada Geese

A quick scan of the area revealed nothing but a few Canada geese swimming in the placid water well below the dam. I thought I might be able to see the osprey watching for trout above the dam, but there was nothing but a bunch of tiny grey birds flitting back and forth between the cliff on the west side and the pine trees on the east side of the river 😦 This cute tree squirrl and this pair of Canada geese seemed like worth subjects though!

Mallard Duck

I looked on all the usual tree tops for the osprey but they were nowhere to be seen. The falcons were also taking a day off and I began to wonder if they and the osprey had already headed for South America. There was a cute duck quacking and swimming around in the glass like water by the reeds so I snapped a few of those, although I usually don’t bother shooting ducks and geese… but today I just wanted to make sure I captured something!

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

With nothing going on above the dam I decided to venture back into the canyon to investigate the osprey situation. As I neared the nest I was surprised when one of the majestic birds flew right over my head. I wasn’t able to recover in time to get the shot but luckily I had arrived at the beginning of the morning feeding so the first raptor took up a position in the nest. I also took up my position high on the opposite bank with my favorite view of the nest and the entire riverbank.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

The youngster in the nest chirped noisily so I hoped the parents would soon answer with a fish… However it was the sibling who first answered the call and he too landed in the nest. But being in no mood to share his catch he quickly departed with his prize and perched on a dead  branch on my side of the river. In quick succession though, the mother osprey appeared with a stick for he nest followed by the father who delivered some kind of catch… It didn’t look like a fish, perhaps one of the ubiquitous ground squirrels was the preferred catch of the day!

Doe Mule Deer in the South Platte River

Eventually the majestic birds all disappeared so I headed upstream to see if I might find them fishing in the wide part of the river a couple hundred yards to the south. I didn’t see the osprey but I did spot this nice doe mule deer eating the lush grass on an island. She cast a wary glance in my direction so I just sat down and hoped she would continue. She quickly became comfortable with my presence and began to eat again. I snapped quite a few images of her in various positions but this one at water’s edge is my favorite!

Gold Finch Eating Flowers

After shooting a few stills of the beautiful flowing water I headed back to my truck where I noticed this little gold finch feeding on some wildflowers. A nice ending to an excellent morning.

For your enjoyment I have created a short multimedia video for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

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!

Birds Eye View

I promised this bird’s eye view with the wide angle… and today was the day 🙂 I had other reasons for making this climb too… I wanted to see if I could find Mr. Hawk, the rough legged hawk I found up there the other day. There was a beautiful fog bank today so I was also thinking I might be able to get a neat wide angle of the Sangre de Cristo Range.

Fog bank on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

This time I was smart, in addition to packing the wide angle I also had the forethought to bring some fluids and energy bars 🙂 The initial climb to the top of the first ridge is pretty invigorating to say the least, but is often rewarded with a few shots of deer or elk at the top. Nothing today and no sign of Mr. Hawk either.

Beyond the high meadow is a patch of forest that I’ve been eyeing for a couple of years, the place where the elk go to vanish when I try to follow them. I’ve always wondered what it was like in there, I don’t see any sign of a real trail of any kind. I decided against going directly in there and chose a path around the edge as I climbed higher with the summit in mind.

Eventually I had two choices, the long way around the south end of the summit, or a short cut directly through part of the forest, I chose the short cut and finally after all these years I got to see inside the apparently impenetrable woods. It seems as though this forest has been untouched for a long time, many fallen trees lying all over the place making a direct path impossible. Don’t think I would want to be there in a windstorm, you might be the unlucky recipient of a large pine tree on top of your head 😦 I found a deer trail of sorts and followed it in and around all the dead foliage to the final approach to the summit.

From there it was just a short walk to my favorite vantage point, one that I had first

Fog bank on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

scouted out with my dog years ago. I found a good spot to take off my pack and sit in full view of the beauty before me. The dense fog of early morning had given way to a picturesque layer just beneath the Sangre de Cristo Range in the distance. I just sat there for a while taking in the view, but mostly just feeling heartbroken that my four legged buddy crossed Rainbow Bridge some time back and wasn’t there to enjoy the conquest with me.

Eventually I summoned the strength and attached my 24-105 lens with a circular polarizer to cut through the residual morning haze. As it turned out the images looked the best with about a 50mm focal length, any wider and the Sangre were too insignificant to do the scene justice.

Rough Legged Hawk in the Rockies

I continued to look for Mr Hawk on the trek down the other side of the mountain, but he was nowhere to be seen on this day. In fact the landscapes that I shot at the summit are the only record of today’s hike.

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! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

The Osprey Family

Gray mountain jay getting a drink

A visit to Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado can never be a disappointment and today turned out better than usual 🙂 Of course I had to check on the eagles when I arrived but they were already gone from the nest. It was a beautiful morning so I imagine they were soaring high above Eleven Mile Reservoir in search of fish for their lunch.

So I drove over to the entrance and paid my fee to enter the park. I cruised along slowly over the awful washboard dirt road hoping not to shake my poor old truck apart 😦 I’ve photographed the river rapids so many times that I really wasn’t looking for the best scenery in the river, I was more looking up on the cliff on the west bank for eagles or hawks. It wasn’t long and I

Robin by the River

spotted a nest on a dead tree right on the other side of the river, so I stopped to check it out.

I was surprised to notice a little movement in the nest so I got out my long lens and found a spot for a better look. I could barely make out a couple of little heads moving around in the nest so I went down to the river for a couple of shots. Fortunately a little grey bird flew in to entertain me during the semi down time, stopping for a drink in the golden water of a Rocky Mountain sunrise. Eventually the little fellow flew away and a robin came to visit with a mouthful of weeds she was apparently planning to use for her nest.

Osprey Mother and Chick

I went back up to the bank and was happy to see that the large birds were starting to rustle around. It wasn’t long before one of the birds flew out and took up a perch on a tree branch that was a good distance away. I snapped a few pictures which I may have a use for someday, but I ended up with much better ones that are commanding my attention first.

Soon I could see the mama bird and a couple of little ones stirring around. The mama caught me by surprise by suddenly flying off and I was upset that I missed my chance for an in flight shot. It wasn’t long though and she was on her way  back with a large twig in her beak which she promptly installed in the nest. Then she was ready to go again, and this time I was ready 🙂

Osprey Taking Flight

After shooting in from that location for a while I wondered if I could find higher ground that would give me a better view of the nest. I looked around and it appeared that the mountain behind me was climbable so I started the climb the steep slope. Eventually I spotted a nice rock that looked like a good seat where I would be able to steady the camera on my knee and have a good 180 degree view of the river over the trees and bushes.

Osprey Taking Flight

The beautiful raptors put on quite a show… the little ones stood up exercised their wings in what appears to be very early attempts to go airborne. They have a ways to go though, they didn’t seem to get any lift yet, where the eaglet I have been watching can easily catch an air current and rise quite a few feet out of the nest. It did make for a great photo op though, the whole event lasting maybe a minute. I got the idea to try to film some video and did manage to capture some cute mother chick interaction and have created a YouTube video for my channel. It’s a beautiful five minute capture of the sights and sounds of my day set to music, so give it a click and a like and subscribe to my channel if you would like to see more!

Osprey in Flight

Finally the father bird left his perch high in the trees and flew off towards the reservoir and after a few minutes he returned with a stick of his own, putting on quite a show by circling the nest several times before delivering his contribution to the nest construction. I thought he would quickly fly off again but he hopped out of the nest and took up a perch on  one of the dead tree branches forming the foundation for the nest.

Osprey Portrait

It was such a good pose that I decided to try for a portrait and attached my 1.4x lens extension. By this time the sun was getting hot and I was fully aware of the male raptor’s patience for sitting on a perch. He had occupied his tree for a couple of hours before taking flight this time, and it was getting hot and the lovely morning light was giving way to the harsh midday sun… I decided this would be a good time to head for home and take a look at what the day had given me 🙂

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! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel if you want to see some of  my adventures in action!

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 🙂

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 a  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 🙂 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 🙂

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 😦

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!

Hiking Ann-Marie Falls Colorado

wp-15909461786523841634482648751622.jpgThe most difficult part of hiking the beautiful Anne-Marie Falls Trail on Pikes Peak Colorado may be finding it in the first place! I have long wanted to experience this trail and finally today I was able to fulfill that wish 🙂 Today is a Sunday so photo buddy Kevin and I met at 7:00 a.m. so we could beat the weekend crowds sure to gather on the Colorado Front Range Trails. Even after diligently studying the trail maps we weren’t too sure of the exact location of the trailhead so I loaded the trail into my Alltrails app and turned on the direction finder. We journeyed down the four mile dirt road on the west side of the peak marked as the turnoff to the

Beaver Ponds on the Anne-Marie Trail

famous Crags Trail. As we passed a blocked gate on the road about a mile past the Crags Trail parking lot, the magic electronic GPS finder announced the trail on the left which didn’t jive with the narrative so we just kept driving.

Finally at the end of the Crags road there was a small parking lot and a well marked trailhead with a large map on a sign. We donned our backpacks loaded with camera gear and headed down the trail. The first mile or so was a pretty tough ascent on well maintained trail, but with a couple of breaks and a little Gatorade the climb wasn’t too difficult. The beautiful trail wound it’s way through majestic old pine forest amidst birds chirping happily from the tall pines overhead.

Wilson's Warbler

Finally we began a long descent which culminated in a clearing featuring a picturesque beaver pond which of course we had to check out extensively! We walked most of the way around, occasionally having to take some care not to sink too deeply in the marsh surrounding the pond 🙂 After capturing the scenery with our wide angle lenses and shooting a couple portraits we came across a colorful cheery Wilson’s Warbler that flitted around us striking all manner of nice poses for a photographer to appreciate 🙂

Eventually we decided to continue on in search of the falls, for which we had not seen a single directional sign. We walked back to the trail where we debated returning the way we came,  continuing on or exploring a totally unmarked poorly maintained trail leading towards the southwest and

Wilson's Warbler

Sentinel Point in the distance. It was here that my practice of recording the hikes onto my Alltrails profile proved to be quite advantageous! A quick check of my phone screen revealed our location at the beaver pond and a stretch of unfinished trail leading in the direction of the faint trail along the creek flowing out of the south end of the placid water of the dammed pond.

We opted to continue down in search of the falls where soon we heard the babbling of rushing water.  With some indication of success, we were inspired to continue in the direction of the encouraging sound where before long we found the tiniest of waterfalls. Perhaps during the snow melt this might be an impressive falls but in the early summer it is just the pleasant trickle of a beautiful pristine mountain stream. Here I snapped a few pictures of the falls and the tranquil calm spot at the base of the diminutive waterfall.

Anne-Marie Falls

After a nice break we headed back up the trail to the junction where the GPS indicated the possibility of a loop that might cut some distance and a long climb up the steep ridge! We began walking up the alternate route where I checked our location occasionally and indeed we did find ourselves successfully closing in on our final destination without having to climb the ridge again! Eventually we found ourselves on Forest Road 383 which ended at a blocked gate, the place where the direction finder first indicated a trailhead about a half mile down from the parking lot and the main trail marker.

Speaking of GPS, I highly recommend hikers on obscure trails in the Pike National Forest have some kind of direction finder. There are unmarked trails and jeep roads going everywhere and without some high tech assistance it would be quite easy to head off in the wrong direction and turn a beautiful day into a trying experience.

As always, these pictures and 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 tech gifts are also available including the newly added Covid masks! You can also purchase apparel, coffee mugs, battery chargers, phone cases, blankets and pillows and much more!

Anne-Marie Falls