The Next Lockdown

Cottonwood Lake Colorado

This Memorial Day weekend I am thankful that I live in a state with relatively few people so there is ample opportunity for me to get out in the Rocky Mountain wilderness, well away from people and the worries of the Covid-19 virus. So far this weekend I was able to have a wonderful visit to the Collegiate Peaks and Mosquito Range mountains near Leadville and Buena Vista with my photo buddy Kevin, a nice hike through the woods in the wp-15903528734408372567264817863598.jpgFlorissant Fossil Beds National Monument and another enjoyable hike on my favorite mountain in the Pike National Forest

The highlight of our 6 mile hike on the Twin Rocks Trail through the Fossil Beds was the pond at the halfway point with a couple of red wing blackbirds, a

Hummingbird in the Reeds by #swkrullimaging

humming bird and a chipmunk. We of course were hoping for elk or a bear but the little critters were all we were blessed with. Good photography practice for sure though! One of the things I finally learned how to do was record and share my hike with my Alltrails app! I’ve been a member for many years, logging over one thousand trails in my profile, but never bothering to learn how to record my progress 😦

Rocky Mountain Whitewater

Our first stop on the Collegiate Peaks trip was at stunningly beautiful Cottonwood Lake on Cottonwood Pass Road where we found mirror like water reflecting the rugged terrain surrounding the lake and the snow capped mountains of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness in the background. The cliffs on the north side of the lake are known for their abundance of bighorn sheep and mountain goats which were our intended target of the day but unfortunately the elusive animals decided not to show themselves. We did however have a nice time exploring the lake and photographing the magnificent scenery. On the way back down to

Steve Krull at Denny Creek

the road we saw a cute mule deer and stopped to photograph the rushing water of the stream flowing out of the lake through the dense pines of the San Isabel National Forest.

We had hoped to drive all the way to the top of Cottonwood Pass to see the Continental Divide but unfortunately the road was closed at the Denny Creek Trailhead so we just stopped there for a break and to photograph the creek roaring down to meet Cottonwood Creek. Many thanks to Kevin for shooting this awesome picture of me beside the creek!

Mosquito Range and Turquois Lake

Kevin had never been, so once we had seen enough of Cottonwood Pass we turned north to see the sights in the historic mining town of Leadville. From my Leadville 100 running days I remembered the Golden Burro Cafe so we drove through town hoping it was still open. We were in luck, the place was still there and even though the lockdown was ongoing for restaurants in Colorado they were open for takeout. As we waited we discussed the fate of the town during the virus with the hostess and she informed us everything was cancelled, the 100 mile race, Boom Days, everything that makes summer fun in Leadville. The Burro has a great breakfast takeout deal going on if you happen to journey to Leadville, five dollars for several awesome breakfast dishes, and I enjoyed immensely the green chili breakfast burrito 🙂

Stilted Sandpiper on Twin Lakes

Next stop was the Twin Lakes recreation area where we photographed some more mountains reflecting in the water and a cute sandpiper trotting along the shoreline looking for food. Our last highlight of the day was a few pronghorn antelope in the high prairie near Spinney Reservoir. In addition to the still images I also have some footage of the roaring whitewater and I have created a YouTube video of this adventure set to inspiring music! Visit and subscribe if you like for a few minutes of blessed relaxation during these stressful times!

Yesterday and today I spent alone, hiking my regular trails in the Pike National Forest near Woodland Park and Cripple Creek. I saw my favorite little deer herd just as  they were  preparing to settle down for their morning nap, so of

Sleepy Deer Herd

course I had to stop and snap a few pictures of that process. They were some distance away, but that didn’t stop them from casting a few wary stares in my direction! Later I spotted a prairie dog so I sat down on a log for a few minutes and sure enough after a while he stuck his head out of his den to yell something at me in prairie dog language before scampering back to safety… but not before I was able to capture a couple of frames though 🙂

All the years I have been hiking there I have been eyeing a hollow stump… wondering if I

Prairie Dog

could frame a landscape of the distant Sangre de Cristo Mountains through it. However, the first time I went there this spring after my long recovery from surgery I noticed it was no longer there. Just my luck… three years of wanting to photograph it and the minute I’m ready it’s gone!  Well I  got to thinking, maybe the heavy snow this year had rolled it down the hill? So as I walked past I looked in vain for an upended tree stump. Finally, just as I thought I was too far I noticed a real tree stump sticking up out of the ground and I thought, could it be? I hiked on down to take a look and I’ll be darned if it hadn’t righted itself and was now disguised as a bonafide tree stump instead of a picture frame! Unfortunately I didn’t have the right lens along so I wasn’t able to get the stump in focus with my long lens, but I am now determined to make my way back up there with my wide angle and capture that long anticipated shot.

Mule Deer in the Woods

On the remainder of my trek my thoughts turned to the terrible events of this year and for some reason the wicked grin on the face of that Michigan governor, Witless or whatever her name is stuck in my head as she gleefully announced that the lockdown would continue, as if she were getting a kick out of punishing naughty children. First the lockdown was to be a month or so to flatten the curve, then weeks turned into months as the goalposts were moved by politicians and unelected medical professionals to include new objectives, and now we are hearing in some places that the lockdown may continue until there is a vaccine, which may never come.

Pronghorn Antelope on the High PrairieOn the weekend that we celebrate the sacrifice of the brave men and women who have fought and died to preserve our God given freedom, I thought… how easily we gave it all up and dutifully retreated to our own private little prisons, and how easily we were tricked into believing that our leaders would keep their word and end our incarceration when we had “flattened the curve”. How easy it was for the politicians to virtually suspend the constitution and discard our “inalienable rights” without even a vote from congress. I know we did it for good reason and we have no idea how many lives may have been saved as a result, but I also know we have not even begun to understand the cost. I am disturbed by how much some officials seem to be enjoying their newly found power and I can’t help but think all this is not lost upon those who value power over freedom and would love for this to become permanent.

Tranquil Pond

How long will it be before the AOC’s and the Newsome’s of the world decide that there needs to be a climate change lockdown until the “temperature emergency” is resolved… if ever. I have heard of quarantine facilities where the Covid-19 victims can go to wait out their illness… “all voluntary” of course. In the next lockdown will climate deniers be sent to re-education facilities? Will they take away our cars, shut down the airlines and dismantle the oil refineries? They don’t seem to care that they are destroying the livelihood and businesses of millions of citizens now, I’m sure there are those who won’t mind enslaving us in the future.

On this memorial day I fear that we are only one vote away from the end of this glorious republic. I hope our experience with this virus has taught us how fragile our freedom really is. We may pass the point of no return if we ever allow this to happen again. We can never let this happen again.

Chipmunk on a Rock

 

 

 

Running the Numbers

River running that is! Most summer days are pretty mild here at almost 9,000 feet at the base of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak. However once in a while it becomes apparent just how close Colorado is to the hot desert land of the southwestern United States. Yesterday was one of those days. I have always wanted to explore the Numbers recreation area between Buena Vista and Leadville during rafting season and when the desert heat started to bake Woodland Park by 8:00 a.m. I decided this was the day!

Rafting the NumbersI was getting a bit of a late start, which is a bad thing if you are going to shoot landscapes or wildlife, but for rafting, I figured they wouldn’t really get going until after noon anyway. So I loaded up the doggies for a road trip along with the camera and soon we were rolling west on 24 to the quaint river town of Buena Vista. Once there, the traffic was horrendous, the main road through town was all jacked up with construction cones and I missed my turn down to the river. I know of another access point so I decided to just get the heck out of the mess and go down to the dirt road along the river further north of town.

Well that turned out to be fortuitous because I would discover that the Numbers rapids are actually quite a bit further north than I had imagined. I had tried to explore them one other time a couple of years ago, but at the time my truck was not available and with only a Miata to negotiate the dirt roads I was not too successful! From my known access point I turned north on a one lane jeep road until I found a wide place to park. Hiked down to the water where I discovered another photographer working for one of the adventure photo companies. The rapid she was staking out was #4 and I was not too impressed with the vantage point there so after a bit of chit chat I was back out onto the highway looking for the start of the Numbers.

Finally I saw a sign for the Numbers Recreation Area and turned in. Another one lane road, probably about 20 miles north of Bueni… soon another sign indicated that the put in was only a mile upstream so I decided I didn’t want to get trapped in river company traffic on that one lane road and went back to the bridge and parked, hoping that there would be a hiking trail along the river.

Well there wasn’t exactly a trail on the west side of the Arkansas there, but it is possible to walk along the river and I found a couple of nice spots with a good view of one of the rapids. Not sure which one yet, but it was very close to the beginning of the famed river run. Made my way down to the bank and over a couple of natural rocks steps in the water onto a boulder that was sitting out in the river a bit. Perfect, a seat in the shade, perfect lighting, perfect view of the action and the river upstream! According to the adventure photographer lady, I had about a half hour to kill before the afternoon action was scheduled to begin. Fiddled with my camera a bit to make sure I was going to get good exposures with a shutter speed fast enough for some good stop action. For stock photography, images need to be razor sharp so I wanted shutter speeds of around 1000th and an aperture in the F11 range. A quick check of the histogram indicated that I was going to need to need an exposure bump of a third of a stop.

I had seen the rafting companies going in with vans and buses, so I knew there was going to be a good number of rafts coming through soon and right on cue at about 2:00 p.m. the colorful rafts began drifting past, along with a few batches of kayakers. I also decided to try my hand at shooting a video for my Facebook status updates that I was posting… Pretty easy to do with phones these days! I may make it a habit to do that regularly. Only thing I noticed is that the microphone must be in the front because rather than getting the sound of the river I noticed it sounded more like the water gurgling in the rocks behind me. Need to make a note to check into that.

Well, by 2:30 the action was dying down considerably already so I decided I had what I came for and let the doggies take a splash in the water at the boat access near the bridge before heading for home. All in all I collected about 200 captures so I will be busy processing these for a while! And I feel confidant that I have thoroughly explored the Numbers and am on to dreaming up a new idea!

 

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

Paddlefest

Today turned out to be a pretty big day, the furthest from home I’ve been in a long time. After years of hoping to photograph the Paddlefest whitewater festival in Buena Vista, I finally made it today. I awoke at 5:00 a.m. and it was foggy and cold so I was tempted to just give it up and go back to bed, but I thought it was now or never and just headed out the door. My gear was all packed from the night before because I knew it would be a tough thing to do in the dark in the morning.

Collegiate Peaks

Collegiate Peaks

Fog and rain greeted most of my drive across the high plateau from Lake George to Hartsel, but a glorious view greeted me as 285 began to descend down into the Arkansas Valley. The massive Collegiate Peaks range came into view and was well worth the pull over at at the scenic overlook for some shots. The deep snow on the high peaks was literally glowing in the early morning light. I lingered and shot several angles and different peaks from various vantage points before continuing down the mountain to the turnoff to Buena Vista

As I pulled into town I spotted just the thing I was looking for at the moment. My early departure didn’t leave me time to drink my usual morning wake up beverage, so when I saw the Brown Dog Coffee Shop I knew it would be a good place to hang out and wait for the whitewater events to start. Love the place and it will now be my favorite coffee shop west of the Continental Divide!

Soon I decided to head on down to the river to find a parking place and scope out the event vantage points. Rain was falling so I was glad that I had brought along my Aquatech rain cover for the camera and a rain poncho. Down by the river tents were being set up with the necessary music and PA gear. I inquired and they told me the main festival was up the trail. Checked that out and decided to head back to the car to wait out the rain and kill the time before the events.

Paddle-Boarders

Paddle-Boarders

9:00 a.m. finally rolled around so I put the rain cover on the camera and headed back down to the river for the first kayak events at the eddy near the tents. As I was shooting the kayakers, I noticed some mountain bikers on the opposite side of the river high on the ridge, so after the first set I found the bridge and crossed over. According to the maps it looked like the Whipple Trail would afford me a good view of the high peaks to the west. True enough, if it weren’t for so many clouds it would have been awesome. On my way back across the bridge I received my good fortune for the day as a group of paddle boarders were headed down a very scenic segment of the river, all lined up in a very cool row! That will be my money shot for the day I am sure!

When I got back to the river I got the opportunity to photograph some rafters and the group of paddle boarders were getting ready to tackle some whitewater. A few more captures and I was ready for the drive home, which turned out to be an adventure in itself. It was snowing on the high plains, which is way more excitement than I need when I am driving my summer car. Fortunately I drove out from under the storm and it turned into rain in the lower elevations.

Finished up the day with some awesome Japanese Teriyaki chicken and am looking forward to processing almost 300 images and writing an article about the festival for the Examiner. The festival was great and I love Buena Vista and the Collegiate Peaks. I seriously need to think about moving over to that side of the Divide!