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 🙂

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!

As always these pictures are available on my website as wall art and cool gift items! Please give us a visit if you like what you see!

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The Privilege of Wildlife

On a morning like this I feel so privileged. There are very few places where a person can regularly go out a few minutes from home and suddenly find himself in the midst of a wilderness scene like the one I experienced this today 🙂

Elk Herd on a Winter Morning

I was at the trailhead early, just before sunrise and just in time to see the elk herd again. I think there were even more animals in the herd today and I could here them calling, talking to each other I guess. Anyway it was amazing to be in the presences of complete silence other than the breeze in the pine trees and the sound of pure wilderness. Well, there was no time to waste, all the talk I was hearing could be an elk discussion about heading up the mountainside! So I raised the big 400mm to my eye and steadied it on a fence post for a few shots. I always make sure I set up and start shooting as quickly as possible. Nothing worse than fiddling around and ending up with no record at all of your encounter!

Once I was sure I had something to show for the day I began slowly moving up the trail for a better view of the action. There is a fence at the trailhead to keep in the free range cattle so the

Elk Herd on a Winter Morning

elk had to negotiate that before moving higher. There is a gate which is kind of like a mini maze which does a good job of keeping in the cows. But the elk have figured it out just fine and most of the animals were just walking right through it, but some decided to jump the fence instead. Elk and deer have no trouble at all in jumping a five foot fence. They don’t even have to take a run at it. From a standing start they just hop right over.

Elk Herd on a Winter MorningSoon all the magnificent beasts were on the other side and they began the journey to the dense pine forest on the other side of the mountain top. I followed on my snowshoes for a while hoping they would stop. They did gather in the meadow at the top where I was able to capture a few more images, but they soon noticed me and vanished into the wilderness. Pretty much all the imagery I captured there was elk butt heading in the other direction!

I hiked another mile or so around the mountain in hopes of another encounter to no

Elk Herd on a Winter Morning

avail. However there was a good view of the sun rising on the southern mountains which made the extra miles worth the effort. Hopefully I’ll have time to process those in the next couple of days.

As a side note to myself, I may have accidentally learned a new trick. In all the excitement I accidentally bumped the exposure compensation wheel and shifted it from +2/3 of a stop to 0 compensation. I thought for sure I had blown the entire shoot, but as it turns out a quick check of the histogram showed a decent exposure to the left and the unintended benefit of that was a faster shutter speed. The images were well within tolerance of Camera Raw to be able to drag the exposure over and the faster shutter speed resulted in those images being sharper than the more accurately exposed ones! Don’t think I would make such an extreme adjustment on purpose, but I might consider a third of a stop shutter speed increase to be a good choice some morning!

As always these images and more are available as wall art on my website on glossy acrylic and metal sheets, canvas and traditional framing and matting. Cool household, tech, and gift items are also available! Just click the “elk” gallery to view only images of elk and then click an image you like to view all the product options and pricing!

Morning Delight

As I pulled the old Dodge into the trailhead parking this morning I thought I could see movement in the predawn light so I parked a little sideways to get a better look. Sure enough, there was an elk herd grazing and moseying up the mountainside from where

Morning Elk Herd

ever they were bedded down last night. Rather than charging up the hill with Big Dog like I usually do I got the camera ready and lingered a bit, hoping for the sun to crest the ridge to the east so I could have better light for a shot of the magnificent beasts.

Patience paid off as the sun finally did poke through bathing the mountain top in a beautiful warm morning glow. By then the animals had noticed me and were moving up the mountain into the light and I was able to capture this nice image of the mini migration. Lol, except for this young fellow below who had apparently found something else to do rather than pay attention to what the adults were doing. By this time he had noticed and was scrambling to catch up 🙂

Young Elk on the Run

I was hoping that as we rounded the hillside on the trail that we would get a chance to see them again in the high meadow, but by the time we arrived up there the elk were all gone. Vanished like ghosts into the dense wilderness to the south. Got a few more images of this herd that I will probably try to work on later… unless of course I just decide to go shooting again!

Snowshoes Changed My Life

They did… snowshoes literally changed my life. I have loved long distance running for as long as I can remember, probably from the time it was invented by Forest Gump back in the 70’s 🙂 In the 80’s I combined this passion with my love of the mountains to begin a long love affair with trail running. However, there was always one problem, winter. The magnificent mountain trails were inaccessible to me in the wintertime. So countless hours were spent boring myself to death on treadmills, stairmaster machines, and street running, dying for winter to end so I could get back on the trails.

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Don’t know why I had never really considered snowshoes at the time, it just seemed like a foreign concept and running in the winter in the mountains just hadn’t occurred to me. But that all changed on one particular day when I had to take my dog to see Doc Gurney in Aspen Park. Bear had to undergo a series of tests and then wait under observation for the results. In the meantime I had nothing to do and there is a set of trails nearby in a county park called Meyer Ranch that I had visited in the summer months while Bear was undergoing treatments. I thought oh, what the heck, maybe it’s packed down and I can run a little bit. Turns out most of the trail was packed down and I had a nice run through the three sets of loops. At the top of the high loop the snow was soft and a little deep for running shoes, but I plowed through anyway. As my feet were getting wet and snow was filling my shoes I was thinking, boy it sure would be nice to have some snowshoes or something!

Well, not too long after that we had a series of massive snows in Parker and my running trail was utterly buried under several feet of snow. Trail running in my neighborhood was out of the question, possibly for months. And all of a sudden it hit me. I was going to make a run up to REI to purchase snowshoes. And it was awesome, I went out every morning before it was even light to get my run in before work. I just loved it. Soon my running buddies were into it also and winter trips to the mountains became an amazing reality. A whole new world had opened up! I even got Bear his own set of snowshoes and he loved coming with me on our treks through the wilderness surrounding my neighborhood… Of course that was before they tore it all down to build mansions for all the city people wanting to experience the country life 😦

Finally the March sun ended my fun and I was sad to see winter go. And from that point on winter became my life 🙂 Of course the trails in the summer are still fun and I get out on them as much as I can, but the solitude of the winter trails is now my love!

Snow in the High Country

Today me and Big Dog ventured onto the mountain for our second trek since the big snows of last week. The snow has crusted over so it is no longer drifting and the trail we made a couple of days ago was still there. I took alternate steps today to complete a packed path in order to make life a little easier for the dog, giving him a place to step without post holing. He wants to be lead dog so cutting the trail the other day was a real chore for him!

As we crested the summit the sun was rising higher in the sky and these patterns in the snow caught my eye. I had the big camera but what was needed was an extreme wide angle to adequately capture this scene. Didn’t have a wide angle lens with me so the phone cam was the best I could do. The picture turned out pretty well though, pretty much what I saw!

I have to say, I sure do like my new MSR snowshoes! Back in the day snowshoe bindings were fairly primitive. You had to tie them on like a pair of shoes and they were hard to tie with frozen fingers, they collected ice and they would never stay tight. My MSR’s have a really cool strap that you just pull over and hook. It only takes seconds to get the shoes on and off you go! They never come loose and I have yet to have them freeze up with ice. Highly recommended. Also they are built on a solid piece of plastic so they don’t get ripped up on the rocks like the old soft rubber decking used to.

Well anyway, we had a pretty great morning and now I hear there is more white stuff on the way! Don’t forget to give my website a visit, I have bunches of new digital imagery for sale as wall art and cool household and gift items with a #swkrullimaging picture!

Cutting the Trail

I arose early this morning in preparation for a snowshoe trek over the top of the mountain, the wind was not as bad and the snow has taken a break for now. I knew it was going to be a tough morning though, cutting a new trail through the deep wind blown snowdrifts!

Beautiful Sangre de Cristo

As I began the climb with Big Dog I was thinking maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad after all… the wind had blown the snow completely off the trail and we were just striding along in comfort on the hard packed base. But… it wasn’t long, the trail took a turn and we found ourselves in a deep drift which seemed to go on forever. Big Dog was really struggling to get through and for a bit I thought we were going to have to give it up. But soon for some reason the drift hardened, and with the snowshoes both me and big dog could hike along in comfort right across the icy surface.

Up in the trees there were a couple of spots where we had to cut a new trail, but on the top of the ridge the snow had mostly blown away. The view from the summit was of course amazing as usual so I stopped for some pictures. A couple of bucks were also of the mind for cutting a new trail and I could see that they were having a tough day as well. Buck Mule Deer in Deep Snow

The backside of the mountain was easy, the snow had completely blown away leaving bare grass and dirt most of the rest of the way. Here I encountered a trio of doe mule deer foraging on one of the pine tree. So intent upon their task were they that they paid us no mind at all making for a great photo op and a couple nice portraits. These are not shown in this blog post, but are definitely for sale on my website in the wildlife gallery!

Now that I have the hard part done I’m looking forward to another trek over the top in the morning and hopefully some more wildlife pictures! There are rumors of more snow though… stay tuned!

A Tough Slog

We’ve had a lot of snow lately and a lot of cold to go with it! I’ve been waiting out the worst of the cold before attempting any treks into the back country. Must be getting soft in my old age, but deep snow and sub zero temperatures seemed like a good excuse to stay home and get caught up on my stock photo uploads.

Snow in the Colorado RockiesWell, today was the day, no more excuses. It was 18 degrees and sunny this morning, a perfect morning for a hike. So off we went, me and the big dog. upon arrival it looked like the trail had been packed down by more intrepid hikers than myself so up the mountainside we went. Unfortunately the trail was cut for only about a half mile by what appears to be kids and their toboggans. Following that was a deep snowdrift covering the trail all the way to the top :(

The backside of the mountain was no better. The wind has done an awesome job of piling deep drifts on the entire trail, making for a long tough slog. Apparently the short respite has not hurt my cardio conditioning much as we were able to continue through the beautiful fresh powder without gasping too badly for air 🙂 looking forward at the top of the ridge though, the snow looked pretty deep and we decided to abort this attempt about a half mile early.

There is yet another storm headed our way for this weekend and I’m pretty sure that will about do it for hiking up there without snowshoes. So the first thing I did upon returning home was to dig out my winter gear. Found the snowshoes and the ice trekkers. I haven’t quite located my gators yet but I have a pretty good idea where they can be found. Looking forward to my next report on snowshoe hiking in the high country around Cripple Creek! We haven’t had enough decent snow for snowshoeing in quite a few years! This is just awesome 🙂

There are tons of new winter pictures on my website now available for purchase as wall art and cool gift items plus household items and handy tech gadgets with an #swkrullimaging picture on them! Please visit my site if you like pictures of the Rockies in snow!

 

My Beautiful Friends

As I cleared the first ridge with Big Dog this morning I peered into the dense pine of the Pike National Forest looking for a hint of my deer friends that I so like to see. The sun was just clearing the ridge behind me and as I gazed into the trees I thought I saw a

Morning Mule Deer Does

familiar face. It was difficult to tell, but it looked like the sun was shining right on one of the furtive creatures. So I lifted up my long lens to take a better look and sure enough, there she was, standing and curiously staring from just inside the cover and safety of the wilderness. However it wasn’t until I got home and brought the image up in Photoshop that I discovered that there were two deer in the picture! The second one was hiding in the darkness of predawn shade and it was just luck that I got her in the picture too 🙂

Later on I came across the rest of the herd foraging for food in the deep mountain grass.

Mule Deer Portrait

Unfortunately they were in the shade so the best possible image wasn’t available, but I do think I got a nice portrait of a really cute one though 🙂 These did not flee from me, they just looked on with a fairly uninterested expression on their faces while they filled their bellies on the lush grass.

These images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal, acrylic, canvas, and traditional matting. One inside the image website, just click on a picture you like and all the product options and pricing will become available!