The Mountains Decide

One of the rules of landscape photography is that you shoot right before sunrise or right after sunset or don’t even bother, the lighting won’t be interesting enough to make a decent image. However that rule, along with many others does not apply in the mountains. The mountains alone decide when they want to be photographed, climbed or just plain left alone.

Stormy Sangre De Cristo

Storm clouds on the Sangre De Cristo

Today was just such a day as sunrise was met with several inches of fresh snow and a layer of dense fog covering the entire area. I was thinking of an early hike with the camera but decided otherwise when I saw the conditions. Some biscuits and gravy at Bronco Billy’s seemed like a much better idea 🙂 However when I came out from breakfast everything was changed… The sun was trying to come out and I could make out some interesting cloud formations in the direction of the Sangre De Cristos so me and Big Dog headed for the trailhead.

The view from the trail summit was amazing, the clearest view I have seen of the mountains yet this winter! And to add to the scene, the storm clouds from the night before were still lingering, floating lazily just below the tops of the magnificent mountain range.

Sangre De Cristo Snow

Fresh snow on the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado

So for about an hour I had a window of opportunity to get some of the coolest shots of the season… not at sunrise or sunset, but on mountain timing. On my way home I noticed that the window was closing fast, the Arkansas Valley was rapidly filling with clouds and the mountain range was becoming invisible once again. By the time I got home it was snowing in earnest and the mountains were but a fond memory.  I thank the Almighty for the window of opportunity and for making me available to witness it in full glory.

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Further Exploration

The day started out in a tizzy when Photoshop informed I had one day to log into the Creative Cloud or my subscription was going to be closed. I had no idea, I am used to Photoshop managing the subscription and updates automatically. So I checked and sure enough, no updates have been applied and I had to go in to help, manage subscriptions and was prompted to log in and download the updates. Mental note to continue checking for updates.

Once past that crisis, a nice breakfast at Broncos killed enough time for the sun to come out and make a trek into the woods tempting. Been meaning to get a bit further down the trail towards Little Grouse Mountain and this was looking like just the right day for it. 

It was pretty windy at the trailhead but Big Dog didn’t seem to care so we forged ahead. Not far around the first bend the mountains began to block the wind and it turned into an amazing beautiful Colorado winter morning!

So onward we went, through the beautiful historic countryside of the Cripple Creek Victor mining district past the many failed dreams of the area’s earliest pioneers. I imagine we made it well past where there have been any people recently as the trail was getting pretty rugged. 

Finally we emerged one valley from what I believe to be Grouse Mountain and the view was amazing! It looks like the trail will take me to the base and hopefully right on up the mountain. I’ll have to pack some more supplies for that journey though, including some water for the dog. 

In the picture you can see the rugged valley, the mountain and the magnificent Sangre De Cristo range in the background. Please be sure to click the links in the menu to bring up my image galleries where you can purchase wall art and many cool household items with my mountain art!

Little Grouse Mountain

Woke up early this morning with no real plan for the day, but as always I threw my camera in the truck… just in case. The doggies both did their business quickly, which is a good thing, and a big time saver! So instead of my usual trip to the gym I decided to head for the high country in hopes of seeing some wildlife, especially perhaps some bighorn sheep. I have heard rumors of sightings along the route to Cripple Creek and the 50 cent breakfast at Bronco’s was appealing to me as well, so that’s where I headed.

Curious BurroUnfortunately no bighorns, but I inquired as to the possible location of the burro population in town in hopes of seeing them for the first time in the wild in Colorado. So after breakfast I took a couple of roads to the outskirts of town in hopes of spotting the herd. No herd, but while on the hill I did see a big commotion and some ambulances at a casino… probably one of the ancient decrepit souls with oxygen tanks smoking a cigarette that seem to so often frequent those places. Lol I don’t know, just a guess but that is what came to me when I saw the scene. Then as I was on my way back down the hill I heard a big fight going on around some pickup trucks and motorcycles with lots of yelling and cursing, followed by sirens and cop cars. Another foray into the countryside revealed more cop cars and some sort of biker gang having a meeting. Certainly not my idea of a day photographing wildlife surrounded by the peace and solitude of the Colorado Rockies!

Eventually I decided to give it up, but on my way back down Bennett I spotted a burro, then another… hanging out at the jail museum west of the casinos. I wondered, will they let me just walk up to them and take pictures? I had heard they were used to people so I put on the wide angle and sauntered up. Sure enough, they paid me no attention and I started snapping some pictures. About that time a guy came of of the museum and told me they had burro treats inside. So I went in and made a donation and got a little bag of treats to reward them for being such good subjects. In fact they were so good the wide angle was definitely required to get any kind of shot of them due to their curiosity about the camera and determination to put a nose print on the lens! They like to be petted and also like the treats and were happy to eat all that I could give them. Eventually they lost interest when I was out of the treats and moseyed on over to the water tank that the museum provides for them. A big shout out to the museum for taking such good care of them!

Unfortunately, having to have an extra job is taking a toll on my concentration, my body and my photography skills. I knew something was off by the sound of the camera, but paid no attention to my instincts. Turns out the camera had been accidentally set to Tv  at a 20th of a second. I’m lucky I got any pictures at all of the burros, very disappointing… But just the same I am happy this one turned out, it was one of my favorites. Oh well, now I have an excuse to go back soon and see those sweet natured beasts again 🙂

Upon returning to the truck I discovered that Son Boy had found a hitherto forgotten packet of BBQ sauce and had managed to explode it all over the inside of my truck 😦 Actually it was a big relief when I finally ascertained what had happened because when I first saw him I about had a heart attack, thinking he was bleeding from his mouth!!!!!!!!!! Luckily the packets don’t hold much so I was able to clean up in short order and be back on the way. That reminds me… there is still sauce on the ceiling that I need to deal with 😦

Collegiate Peak Mountains in ColoradoWell then, off to Victor… There were a couple of spots along that road I wanted to photograph in the morning light… On the way I spotted an overlook I have never noticed before, so I pulled in to check it out and discovered a nice hiking trail to a small mountain appropriately named “Little Grouse Mountain”, just short enough for the doggies including 14 year old Kitsu to come with 🙂 Nice little hike with all sorts of historic landmarks and interpretive signs along the way. Turns out Grouse Mountain is rich in mining history and there are a number of abandoned sites to study along the way. At the top there is a magnificent view of the Sangre De Cristos and the Collegiate Peaks to the west and northwest.

Finally I had escaped the hubub of a tourist invasion in Woodland Park for “free fishing day”… which reminded me of Tricia. After she was diagnosed with cancer she said she just wanted to go fishing. She had never been and finally decided she would like to just retire and spend some time along a stream fishing. Unfortunately she kept finding too many things to do and never got to go. My advice on that subject? If there is something you really want to do don’t delay, there are no guarantees for a tomorrow in this life. As I wandered the summit of the little mountain and took in the magnificent views I wondered… did the miners appreciate this solitude as much as I was on this day? Were they as appreciative of the stunning views as I was this morning, or were they blinded by greed and the gold dust. I could sense their ghosts as the breeze whispered in the pines, occasionally accompanied by the mournful sound of the historic Cripple Creek Victor narrow gauge railroad train whistle. It had to have been a brutal lifestyle, I wonder if it was worth it? All the work and suffering for that gold only to leave it behind on the journey into the afterlife. And I wonder, am I just like they were? Only with a camera, prospecting for a different kind of gold in the harshness of life in these mountains two miles above sea level. I don’t know, but just the same I thank the Almighty for the legs and the lungs and the opportunity to be able to climb to a place like this and the eyes to see the magnificence of His Creation.

I was so enjoying the solitude, the happiness of finally getting to climb a mountain even if it was only a little one, a place all to myself save for the critters who call that mountain home. But sprinkles soon made my decision for me and it was raining steadily by the time we made it back to the truck. The puppies gladly hopped out of the rain into the camper topper and I decided it was time to return to the madness of the city. But it was a good day in the mountains, not what I had planned but that is ok with me.

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

More Gold Mines

Nothing new to see on this morning’s hike… the peak looked the same as always and I didn’t get a chance to photograph the deer herd before they headed up the mountainside on terrain too difficult for my two legs! So I just finished my hike and made my usual rounds to the gym, the Donut Mill for coffee and the library to get on the computer and see if a house I can buy may have come up for sale. No luck there as per usual. Then I wracked my brain for a while trying to think of a new place to go photograph within a reasonable distance… Felt kind of like Curly for a little bit, “I’m trying to think but nothing is happening!”. No luck there either.

Independence Gold MineEventually I decided to just come home and work on uploading some new images from photo shoots done earlier this year. Looking back I decided that my trip to Victor in March is a good place to start. Have a bunch of nice images from that day that I need to get processed and keyworded. It is with a bit of sadness that I work on these though, twice this year I came close to getting a house there only to have the loans fall through for various reasons beyond my control. Still hoping, though I know now it’s a long shot.

Anyway, I managed to get three more of the Independence Gold Mine processed and they are now available on my website on Pixels.com as print and RF stock. The history of this area is rich with imagery and stories of the old west. I can only imagine the harshness of life in these mines on the rugged mountains surrounding Cripple Creek and Victor at elevations well above 9,000 feet. It’s a rough go even now just to photograph them, and in pleasant weather to boot! I hope you visit my site and enjoy these images and more.

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

 

Tour of the Mines

Had a day off from unloading Walmart trucks yesterday… Didn’t bother to make any plans as I am usually so  trashed from the trucks the day before that I am unable to function, but unfortunately I was up way early anyway with nothing to do. Was going to make my usual rounds running errands, which mostly consists of going to the gym and Walmart, lol not a whole lot to do in Woodland Park. Was looking forward to the burger special at the bar later in the day, but other than that, nothing 😦

Elk in the Fossil Beds National MonumentHowever, as I was on my way to the gym I thought why not take a cruise through the Pike National Forest over to Divide to see if there are any elk hanging around… Didn’t see any, but decided to pick up a Gatorade at Venture Foods and continue on down Twin Rocks Road to Teller 1 for another look.  Not much there, but I did spot one pair of the giant beasts running from the mountains over to the Fossil Beds Monument and managed to grab a couple of shots of that action.

By then it was early enough and I was so close to Cripple that some 50 cent biscuits and gravy were sounding pretty good… Plus I have been meaning to take a drive down the Tour of the Mines Road so I kept aiming the old Dodge south towards casino town. A quick walk for the doggies and I was enjoying a very economical breakfast before heading out for some serious pictures of the mines at the base of the magnificent snow capped Sangre De Cristo mountain range.

Abandoned gold mine near Victor ColoradoI drove a few miles down the rough dirt road south of town but wasn’t seeing anything impressive enough to continue so I just turned around and went back through Cripple Creek. I’ve also been wanting to take Highway 82 over to Goldfield. I was there a long time ago exploring the mines with the wife and was wondering what might have changed since then. As it turns out everything! Hard to believe how massive the Newmont Mine has become… When we took the road years ago, it was just a little dirt road winding through the forest past some abandoned mines. Now it is a highway past the massive crater that was once mountains. The mines that were once little abandoned, and probably quite dangerous death traps are now marked monuments, complete with fences and signage. But it was still fun to retrace the steps I had taken with my wife so long ago before the cancer changed everything.Newmont.jpg

Took the other way home, past the beautiful west face of Pikes Peak. By the time I got home it was raining pretty hard and getting cold. Was very tired and it was too early for burger night so I decided to just make the best of the excellent sleeping weather by taking a much needed map. Had to light the pilot light and fire up the furnace first though! 45 degrees indoors seemed a bit on the chilly side for almost the middle of May!

Be sure to watch for the rest of the pictures to be posted in the coming days! Click the links on the upper left side of the article to find the categories for prints, gift items and stock images!

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