Another Stunner

The clouds at the base of the majestic Sangre de Cristo were an incredible scene this morning and I was looking forward to the vista I was going to behold from the summit of the highest mountain on our morning hike. But as it is many times… what actually greeted me as I cleared the ridge was even better that I had hoped πŸ™‚ This awesome herd of deer happened to be standing in perfect position for me to include them in the image with the mountains and the foggy clouds! These mountains never cease to amaze me πŸ™‚ If you look carefully you can see another deer in the shadows of the pine trees and yet another peeking out from the branches to the right. Those might actually be the Collegiate Peaks in the background of this image. From here you can see both mountain ranges and it isn’t that easy to determine where one ends and the other starts!

Mountain Mule Deer

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Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

We have had a beautiful springlike couple of days but this morning’s clouds portend a change… Snow and cold are on the way for later this week, temperatures will be dropping back to near zero for a couple of days. Big Dog and I were up early today so just

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

before sunrise we grabbed the camera and the snowshoes and headed for the mountains. I could see that it was going to be a beautiful sunrise and indeed it was. But the real show was not to the east, but to the southwest where the alpenglow effect was illuminating the Sangre de Cristo and Collegiate Peaks ranges in a beautiful pink glow. I found a good spot and pulled over for a few shots before going on to the trailhead where I hoped for another photo op with the elk herd. For some reason however, they were not there today, no sign of them at all. It’s like they have vanished off the face of the earth! Oh well… maybe this week’s cold weather will bring them back down to lower elevations. Lol… and by lower elevations, I mean 10,000 feet πŸ™‚

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

Our snowshoe hike yielded nothing in the way of wildlife. Did get a few shots of the storm clouds gathering on the Sangre though, some of the nicest that I have seen in a long time!

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Autumn 2018

My favorite and most lucrative time of year for photography is getting off to a slow start… The flu, a lot of clouds and gloom, more truck trouble and too much working for a living are definitely a drag so far this season. Fortunately the truck is still running, just making a very annoying noise, perhaps a worn fan belt so at least I have been able to get around a bit, including the short drive over to my favorite trail where there are a few trees and sometimes even some elk and deer to shoot… Not going to rat out the location of my deer to hunters though! And finally after months of complete black out of the Sangre de Cristo and Collegiate Peaks, the smoke has cleared enough to actually see them through the low hanging haze.

This herd of mule deer bucks have been hanging around the trail head and seem to be getting warmed up to me a bit so that I can get a few shots off before they run off into the wilderness. Looks like they are quite healthy going into autumn so they should have no trouble surviving the long rocky mountain winter.

Today I noticed the clouds moving into the Arkansas Valley between me and the Sangre de Cristo so I was thinking this might be the perfect time of year for a shot of theΒ  Victor / Goldfield mines with the Sangre in the background. Well worth the short drive up there, this is one of the best images I have ever captured of these mines and the Sangre.Victor Gold Mining District

Some new snow on the distant Collegiate Peaks got me to thinking that there might be a new dusting of snow on Pikes Peak as well, so a short drive to the top of Victor Pass was in order. Indeed there was a light layer of fresh snow to behold along with a nice view of the massive grove of aspen trees that have barely begun to show off their autumn glory.

Pikes Peak AutumnLater today I am going to drive over to the repair garage and see if I can schedule an oil change and have them take a listen to the terrible squealing I have had to endure for the last couple of weeks… hope it isn’t anything too serious, thinking maybe the power steering pump might be going out but we shall see. Hoping to have all this done before late September, I’m getting my first vacation in three years to go shoot some fall color. Wouldn’t it be nice if I was so successful that I didn’t have to even go back to work! Lol, highly unlikely but it is hopes and dreams that do keep us going!

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Mountain Sunsets

I have been recording some beautiful sunsets over Cripple Creek for some time now, only with my phone, too lazy to really get out and get the best location and shoot with my good camera. Finally got the chance yesterday and I think I got some good ones πŸ™‚ The views of the western mountains along Highway 67 are great for sunset watching so that’s where I headed!

Mountain SunsetThere is a great view of the Collegiates near the top of the pass along with some good pullouts, and I was pleased to see some good color poking through the clouds at this point πŸ™‚ It was pretty dark right there though, so I steadied myself on the hood of the old Dodge to make sure I wasn’t disappointed later on by a blurry capture

Cripple Creek SunsetFrom that point on I saw nothing but darkness until I reached the overlook over Cripple Creek. I was afraid the one stop was all I was going to get but was happy to see that there was still some good light over the Sangre De Cristo Range when I arrived. The lights of the town were also putting on a good show by that time, so I got my first nighttime image of the town as well πŸ™‚ I am hoping to soon get downtown at night to capture the Christmas lights in but it doesn’t appear to be all set up yet, so that will have to wait.

Sangre SunsetFinally, the last of the sun’s rays were streaming over the mountain peaks in the south, reminding me of how these mountains got their name, “The Blood of Christ”. Soon as it is with all sunsets, it was all over… nothing left to do but go home and process the images.

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Top of the Ridge

Winter was supposed to come early to southern Colorado and Cripple Creek last night… we got a little snow and some cold but the worst of the storm came in the form of some very dense and treacherous fog for anyone trying to drive through the darkness. It did make for a beautiful night in downtown Cripple Creek though with the lights of the casino district glowing softly through the snowflakes drifting lazily down from the frozen mountain air.

Sangre De CristoOften after one of these storms the action in the mountains the next day can be breathtaking. I awoke early and the doggy was ready for a hike so I decided to see if I could make the top of the ridge behind Little Grouse Mountain where there might be a good view of both the Sangre and the Collegiates. It has been awhile since I have hiked that far but I thought it would be well worth the effort in pictures if I was right.

It didn’t take long before I got a taste of what I was going to see if I could make it to theCollegiate View top of the ridge. I didn’t even know if there was going to be a trail up there but pressed on anyway, ghostly trees in the shaded valley below created an amazing wintry scene. About a half hour in I was at the base of the ridge and there was a faint wagon trail calling my name, leading up and around to the top. Have to say it was a tough climb after a month or two of taking it easy, a fourteener in the immediate future may not be in the cards! Looks like there might have been some gold there at one time, it appears quite a few of the original explorers decided to stake mining claims there. Only the ghostly remains of their hopeful efforts are visible now, a few rocks and some caved in digs.

Sangre ViewFinally we reached the summit and the view was indeed magnificent, the Sangre to the south and the Collegiate Peaks to the west. Looks like the Collegiate Peaks have been getting a bit of snow already, not so much further south. The remnants of last night’s fog filled the high plains between Victor and the Sangres, exactly the panorama I was hoping for πŸ™‚

My legs are tired and sore and the dog is contently sleeping as I process the pictures and recall the beautiful morning. These images are but a couple of the pretty good sized batch I was able to capture this morning. Please be sure to visit swkrullimaging often so you don’t miss out on the wealth of imagery I have been able to acquire this fall!

First Snow

It was a beautiful crisp morning… the hint of fall definitely in the air here at almost 9,000 feet high in the Rocky Mountains. After a long week of drudgery and stress I knew I was in need of a road trip and the puppies needed their hike so I decided to take care of both in the same trip! I love taking the doggies to Little Grouse Mountain near Victor, beautiful scenery and almost zero chance of coming into contact with another person or dog up there, and the doggies love it too. Thought of going to church but when I’m stressed out, being around a bunch of married people and feeling alone is even more stressful. If I’m going to feel alone I’d rather just be alone, and the solitude of the mountains there is perfect therapy… Just me, the doggies and the amazing cool mountain breeze blowing in the pines.

Spring Water.jpgNoticed three empty drinking water jugs in the backseat and I have always wanted to stop at the spring for water. Almost at the split in the highway to Victor or Cripple Creek there is a big tank to catch the spring water coming out of the ground. A rubber tube funnels the water into the tank and anyone can fill water jugs from the spout for free. Animals, including elk, deer, and all sorts of big critters can also benefit from the big tank, and of course there is water spilling from the constant flow onto the ground for the little ones. Got my three jugs filled and headed on into Bronco Billy’s for some 50 cent biscuits and gravy.

stormy Collegiate PeaksThen me and the doggies were off to Little Grouse Mountain for a hike to the spectacular vista of the Sangre De Cristo and Collegiate Peak mountain ranges. Storm clouds were building over the Collegiate Peaks and a heavy haze made the Sangre Peaks almost invisible against the cloudy sky, not worth stopping for pictures but the billowing clouds off to the west were kind of neat. I felt this one looked much more dramatic in black and white, the elimination of color seems to have cut through the haze better. By the time we got back to the bottom the doggies were satisfied and ready for a nap.

Went in to Cripple to the Double Eagle and made some nickel bets, long enough to get a Untitled-1.jpgcouple of free brews to wet my parched whistle before heading back over the pass to Woodland. As I cruised through Gillette Flats I thought I could make out some snow up high on Pikes Peak through the storm clouds… the first sign that the fleeting summer in the high country is nearing an end. Figured I’d take a better look when I got to Woodland with it’s good views of the north face. Sure enough, from the excellent vantage point in Woodland it was apparent that the first snow of the year had fallen down to about 11,000 feet on the peak. But when I went to my usual vantage point the best view of the snow wasn’t visible so I took a swing up Paradise and on up into Paradise Pines for a better view which paid off… it was the perfect spot. The north face of the big peak shows a little dusting but the most snow can be seen on the little peak, which might be Cheyenne Mountain, towards the middle left of the frame.

Pair of Buck Mule DeerThen on my way down I could not believe my good fortune… two beautiful buck mule deer grazing in a meadow of wildflowers. Once again, extremely happy I had set my camera up for back button focus. For some reason once the bucks noticed me they took quite a few steps towards me, so I just held the button down which activates AI Servo focus (continuous) mode as long as I hold the button.Β  Normally a camera is set to one shot mode which activates when the shutter button is depressed. Then what happens is only the first shot is in focus and the subject becomes blurry as it moves closer to the camera. As a result I got quite a good bounty of the two deer in the beautiful meadow. What a way to finish a great day in the mountains πŸ™‚

These pictures and more from the day are available on my website as wall prints on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, or matted and framed with your choice of frame. Gift items including coffee mugs, t-shirts, greeting cards, pillows, towels and other handy household items are also available. Commercial stock versions can be purchased from the image licensing portal of my website.

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

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 TvΒ  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 πŸ™‚

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 β€œLittle Grouse Mountain”, just short enough for the doggies including 14 year old Kitsu to come with πŸ™‚ 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 β€œfree 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