Keeping Time

Well my $10 Ironman knock off finally bit the dust after 6 years of faithful service. It survived countless mountain excursions, rain, snow, and rocky terrain. It did not however, survive my dog. One abrupt change in direction at the wrong time and a fence post was all it took ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


Decided on a real Ironman this time, one of the shock resistant models for sure! Liking it a lot so far, looks and feels rugged, and has all the essential information right on the main screen, time, day and date. I had to push a button on my previous watch to get the date which was very annoying.

The buttons are well marked and intuitive, it only took me about five minutes to get it all figured out, even without looking at the manual. Alarm, chrono and timer are all easy to read and use. The buttons are responsive and easy to use even with light gloves.

The glass is slightly inset in the protective case, so hopefully it will survive the next dog incident!

Advertisements

Ten tips for a successful snowshoe hike in the Colorado high country

Little experiment here… I wrote all this good stuff for an online news agency called the Examiner a few years ago and suddenly without warning they went out of business and all my articles just disappeared ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Luckily I wrote most of them in open office and saved them. Today fresh snow and Facebook reminded me of a memory, namely the publishing of this article!

So today I’m working on transferring them to my phone where I can publish them on WordPress! Here’s one, what do you think?

Ten Snowshoe Tips

1. Choose your snowshoes
Step number one for an enjoyable outing in the cold Colorado Rocky Mountain winter is the correct choice of equipment. Different types of snowshoes are available for the variety of conditions that are encountered in mountain back country. If you are going to be hitting the remote rugged trails found high on the rocky ridges you will need a good set of back country snowshoes with both heel and toe claws. The snow has likely been melting and re-freezing for some time and there will be a lot of ice. The back claws are crucial to keeping your footing on the slippery slopes. If you are going to be encountering deep powder, larger snowshoes are better to limit the amount of sinking. Running snowshoes are available for endurance training if the trail is going to be well traveled and packed. Racing snowshoes are light and equipped with only a front claw.

2. Layer up
Conditions can change rapidly in the mountains and proper attire is paramount. An early morning start is going to be cold and until the heart is pumping warm windproof clothing is worth it's weight in gold. As the day wears on and the sun begins to shine some layers may need to come off to avoid overheating. Start with a close fitting hi-tech moisture wicking thermal layer, including socks and glove liners and a hat. Various weights are available to suit the outdoor temperatures you may encounter. Follow with windproof and waterproof pants and a wool sweater. Wool is better than cotton because it continues to provide warmth when wet. Choose a good pair of waterproof boots. Gortex light hikers are good for running and felt lined snow boots may be needed for sub-zero temperatures in the higher elevations.

3. Jacket with hood
Be sure to choose a jacket with a large hood that extends several inches away from the face. Winds in the high country can be fierce and the hood will protect your face. Snow is likely at any time in the high country so make sure your jacket is waterproof. Staying dry is the best way to avoid hypothermia. Lastly, don't forget warm waterproof gloves. Frostbitten fingers are the quickest path to misery on a snowshoe hike

4. Sunscreen and lip balm
The sun and wind in the high country can be brutal so be sure to wear a good SPF30 sunscreen and UV resistant lip balm. Chapped lips and a severe sunburn can ruin your day just as easily as frostbite.

5. Wear a backpack
A good water resistant backpack can be a life saver. Carry extra clothing, food, matches, flashlights, liquids and cell phones. Professional backpacks found at the mountaineering stores are equipped with extra waist and chest straps to reduce bouncing and distribute weight for greater comfort. Packs are also handy for toting the clothing that you will be removing as your body heat increases during the day.

6. Don't use external water holders
Don't use the external bottle holders if your backpack comes equipped with them. Water and ERG will freeze out there, so put the water bottles inside against your body. Body heat will keep them from freezing. Use the bottle holders for socks or something else you need to keep handy.

7. Fog proof your sunglasses
Sunglasses are essential in the high country. With little atmosphere to filter the sun, serious eye damage can occur from the bright sunlight reflecting from the snow. During a hard workout sunglasses will be sure to fog up so visit your nearest mountaineering store and purchase an anti fogging spray or liquid that will keep your vision clear all day. If you have plastic lenses make sure the substance does not contain ammonia.

8. Cooking spray on your boots and snowshoes
Nothing is worse while snowshoeing than a big ball of ice stuck in your claw and on the heel of your boot. Spray your boots with a cooking spray like Pam before you get started and keep some in your pack. The slick spray will keep the ice balls from forming.

9. Use cross country ski poles
Ski poles can be a lifesaver in the high country. They can help you keep your balance on treacherous ice covered trails and take some of the strain off of your legs on steep climbs.

10. Bring tire chains
The weather in the high country is unpredictable. What can start out as a beautiful sunny day can turn into a serious winter storm without warning. Tire chains can make the difference between an enjoyable day trip and a life threatening overnight camping ordeal.

Footsteps of the Prospectors

Nice ending to a lazy Sunday… Thanks to my ever energetic canine explorer I was not destined to have a full day of rest on this Lord’s Day ๐Ÿ™‚ Son Boy was getting restless late in the afternoon so I decided to take him on a good hike to the Grouse Mountain overlook near Victor, where gold was discovered in 1891 by William Scott Stratton. Being late afternoon I was thinking we might see some wildlife so I brought the camera and my F4L 70-200, my go to lens for wildlife hiking.

Abandoned Victor MineSure enough, about a quarter of a mile up the trail we spotted a huge bull elk but unfortunately he spotted us first… and quickly left the scene. The hike to the top is only about a three quarters of a mile where there is a beautiful vantage point overlooking the Sangre De Cristo Mountains to the south and the Collegiate Peaks to the west. It was pretty hazy today but I stopped for a few captures anyway before heading back down to the trailhead. The Sangre and Collegiate Peaks are just too beautiful to pass by without a picture!

Prospector TrailI’ve been feeling the call to explore a bit south of there on a higher mountain but haven’t seen a trail and the worry of unmarked mine cavities has held me back. Today however I noticed some sort of marker, a cairn with a flag… So we wandered over to take a look and discovered that it said โ€œTrailโ€. Sure enough there was a faint trail and it looked like another cairn about 50 to 75 yards ahead. We had a bit of extra time and Son Boy looked game so we headed down for a better look. Soon a more obvious trail appeared which gave way to what appeared to be a turn of the 20th century wagon trail that headed off into the distance towards the south and the Sangre De Cristo. As I strode along the rugged dirt path it occurred to me that the ground I was on was probably exactly the same as it was over a hundred years ago when the original prospectors walked it hoping to strike it rich.

Grouse MineFinally… a trail in the Cripple Creek area that doesn’t just end in a turnaround! Now this was going to require some investigating! I followed the trail around the mountain towards the taller mountain and was determined to reach a point ahead where I could see that there might be a good view to the west. Didn’t get my view today, but the trail continues into the countryside as far as the eye can see. Now I am eager to take this trail further, perhaps there will be some abandoned mines off the beaten path, some that haven’t had their view obstructed by the barbed wire and fences of modern civilization. Also I am inspired to try new roads in hopes of finding new trails where I can follow in the footsteps of 19th century explorers and gold prospectors… I doubt I will find any gold nuggets, but perhaps my blog accounts and pictures will produce some digital gold ๐Ÿ™‚

Stay tuned to S. W. Krull Imaging for the results of my next hike into the Cripple Creek back country! Also be sure to click the links at the left or in the menu section if you are on a smart phone, to view images for sale on my website… Wall art, clothing and a wealth of gift items are available there!

Rocky Mountain Winter

Got some good hiking in this morning, now working on staying ahead of the curve by getting some more winter pictures done. Have to say, these images of our Mount Elbert winter hike in January of 2016 have to be some of the most memorable shots I have ever taken.

It was a beautiful morning and we were climbing the east face of the mountain with the sun at our backs so the snow and the entire mountain was brightly lit. Those pictures were really nice, I got some good ones of the Mosquito mountains up by Leadville from the mountainside and a few of Twin Lakes far below us. We had a beautiful mountain jay following us part of the way, and then judging by the footprints we also had a mountain lion to contend with. But by that time we were above tree line and could see for miles all around with no lions in sight. Still, a bit unnerving but we forged ahead. We hoped the lion might be more interested in the bighorn sheep we could see far in the distance.Mount Elbert Summit in Winter

The hike was more difficult than we were hoping for, the 14ers.com guide said it would be snow packed all the way and all we would have to do is follow the micro spike tracks. But that turned out to be a bit of an optimistic view as it had snowed a bit the night before and a lot of wind had covered the tracks in some key places. We had a large clearing to cross and it was completely snow covered. We somehow found the trail under the snow and by poking our ski poles around we were mostly able to stay on the trail, but one wrong step and you were buried up to your waist in powder and it was very difficult and time consuming to get back out.

Summit Mount Elbert in WinterThen there were no less than three false summits, so early estimates on a summit time were way off and we were about to give up when all of a sudden we found ourselves on the summit. Very strange… we were just walking along wondering how much further the summit was going to be while discussing turning around and suddenly there was no more mountain in front of us. And it was the most amazing scene before us, nothing but snow covered mountains as far as the eye could see. By that time it was about 2:00 p.m. and the lighting was very strange… At 14,439 feet of elevation the late afternoon light was very bluish and hazy. And totally quiet except for the breeze blowing. I could have used Photoshop to take the blue out of the images, but when it comes to art I am a bit of a Realist and want my pictures to show what it was really like. The temperature wasn’t bad when we first arrived, but about 20 minutes later after we had enjoyed the summit experience for awhile it started getting cold, really cold! It had taken us about eight hours to summit and we only had threeย  hours to descend so we thought we had better skeedaddle! It took about an hour for the burning to subside in my fingers and toes from that last few minutes at 14,439 feet.Steve Krull at the summit of Mount Elbert Colorado in January 2015

The full collection of those images, at least all the ones I have done so far can be found in my Rocky Mountain Winter gallery. There are also tons of other images from snowshoe hikes in snowstorms, wildlife in the snow, blizzards and beautiful lighting on Pikes Peak in that gallery. The images can be purchased as glossy wall art on metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional framed prints, and as gift items including coffee mugs, phone cases, greeting cards, t-shirts, household items, lifestyle gifts and more. Commercial stock versions of the art can be purchased by clicking here for the image licensing portal.

 

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

Field Test, Asolo Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots

My recently purchased Keen lows are great for wearing around the well worn trails of theย  valley I live in, but I needed something more substantial for the rocky terrain of the high country. After quite a few months of procrastination I finally settled on the Asolo Fugitive GTX mids. The boots feelsturdy and well made and the $250 price tag is considerably smaller than some of the other Gor-Tex boots in this class.

Asolo Fugitive.jpgI’ve actually been wearing these around for a couple of weeks to get a good feel for their capabilities. The boots are a bit stiffer than what I’m used to, without succumbing to a “hard ride” and the little bit of stiffness is a welcome feature when the trail gets rocky and uneven. The Asolo Syncro sole provides excellent protection from sharp rocks awesome traction in wet or dry conditions and the rubber toe box is excellent armor against toe stubs.

The boot required no breaking in and was comfortable right out of the box. I discovered no hot spots or pokies inside the boot, and my feet are blister free after miles of hiking in all kinds of conditions that a Colorado springtime can throw at a trekker. Yesterday was my final big test as I received the opportunity to slog through the cold wet melting snow following a major Colorado spring snowstorm. Even with wet snow packing itself onto the tops of the shoes, my feet remained warm and dry inside thanks to the breathable and waterproof Gor-Tex membrane. And although not a solid leather boot, this boot with the waterproof membrane is well insulated against the cold and is an excellent choice for snowshoeing. A gaiter ring would be nice, but just hooking my gaiters to the laces worked fine too. Of course a winter boot should be considered for the extreme winter temperatures experienced by wintertime 14er summit seekers.

The Fugitive also sports an excellent lacing system and comes with quality laces with plenty of length. The laces slide easily through all the eyelets allowing for quick tightening and just the right amount of pressure throughout the foot span. Due to the soft lining and quality lacing system, the tops of the boots can be tied snugly without cutting off circulation and causing discomfort. In all my trekking over rock strewn trails in the last couple of weeks I have experienced no painful ankle rolls.

These attractive boots are light and nimble and I am looking forward to a good summer on some new Colorado 14ers without having to spend any time tending to sore feet. I can definitely recommend this boot to my readers along with my regards and wishes for happy trail hunting this season! The Asolo GTX can be purchased at REI online and at local retail stores.

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

 

If This Jacket Could Talk

If This Jacket Could Talk

As luck would have it, I got a really good deal on a new Gor-Tex jacket the other day. Later that day as I went to zip up my old one it didn’t feel right, looked down and the zipper was broken… zip all you want, but it isn’t going to close. The shell is starting to rip out in places too so it is looking like it might be time to retire this old garment. I’ve been looking for a replacement for it for about a year now, so I was a bit surprised to have found the replacement on the day that I needed it! Although I shouldn’t be, I can’t count the number of times Providence has filled my need at the exact instant it was required. The words of the Apostle Paul, โ€œMy God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in Glory.โ€

Summit Elbert Steve.jpgWell anyway, that jacket has served me faithfully for many years. Not too long after we were married, probably springtime in the mid 90’s, Tricia and I were grocery shopping at the Whole Foods on Colorado Blvd. in Denver. There was an Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) right beside it back then and they were having and end of season sale that we could not resist. That is when we got a really good deal on matching Gor-Tex suits, the blue jackets and black pants. That would make my jacket over 20 years old this year if my memory is correct!

So if that jacket could talk, it would have some stories to tell! Countless snowshoe treks through the woods together with our dog Bear outside our home in Parker. Those were our best years together, enjoying prosperous life in the horse country south of the city. Since then the forest that we hiked in has been plowed under by a developer and is no longer accessible, a heart breaking story on it’s own of an unsuccessful bitter and protracted battle by residents to save pristine forest land.

The jacket kept me warm through countless training runs, snowshoe races in Breck, Dillon and the Eldora ski area, treks through Chautauqua Park and up Bear Mountain Fern Canyon, Mallory Cave and the Arch. The jacket has been on top of Pikes Peak, and 14ers Elbert, Yale, Massive, and Harvard. I can’t count the number of times it protected me from the snow on the Chicago Lakes Trail on Mount Evans and on countless treks to the summit of Bald Mountain in all kinds of weather. And of course it was my constant companion during the capturing of some 6,500 stock photo images, keeping me and camera safe and warm during photo shoots in snowstorms every year for the last two decades.

The jacket was with me in the hard times and the good times. I can’t count the number of times I had to wear it in winter bike rides up the pass, getting to work to try to save money to get the truck fixed. The jacket saw blizzards, hail storms, torrential rain, wind and every sort of mayhem that these mountains are capable of throwing at a person. I was wearing that jacket pretty much every time over the last few years during the funerals and burials of two dogs and three cats that made the journey to these mountains with me. I don’t remember for sure, but I can imagine the jacket was with me two Marchs’ ago as I waited for the outcome of our final trip to hospice. Tricia never got the chance to wear out her jacket… too many health problems to count kept her indoors way more that she would have liked.

I believe though, that this image shot by my buddy Ralph sums up the greatest moment in this jacket’s long history. The winter summit of Mount Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak. I’m not sure I can throw this coat away… think I might just hang it in the closet as a reminder, a trophy commemorating the best moments of two decades of adventure. For sure, my new jacket has a lot of living up to do to exceed the adventures of my first one, but I am ready for a run at it!

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

The Good, the Bad and the New

I remember reading with dread a couple years ago that Adobe was entering the stock image business with it’s own collection that would be accessible directly from Lightroom. Dang I thought, that is really going to take a bite out of iStock’s business. At the time I was an exclusive artist there with no possibility of getting any images into Adobe’s collection. In retrospect, I should have dropped exclusivity then and moved on… but I didn’t and now is now and I’m no longer exclusive at iStock / Getty. I have expanded my collections at Alamy and Pixels but those agencies are not really in the same market so I they are not a replacement for the struggling iStock collection.

Mountain Goats

In the meantime I have been reading the stock forums to stay on top of the business and try to find out what if anything is going on at iStock, when I read a comment by a trusted contributor saying the Adobe collection is doing well. That’s all it took for me to sign up and submit some images! So far I have only done 20 and they have not yet been reviewed, but it is a start, a new start I hope. I don’t think I’ll go way back and submit all 4,500 images that are at iStock to Adobe, maybe just back to when I got my Canon 70D, plus a few favorites from my 40D. Don’t think I’ll bother with many of the 4.5 megapixel images I submitted with my 1D so many years ago.

In the meantime, I am totally bummed… I noticed that some of my images have been turning out blurry these days so I did some testing yesterday. Sure enough, my favorite and best lens, my Canon F4L 70-200 is broken. Shooting blurry and I can hear something rattling around inside ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Oh well, it has served me well for almost a decade and isn’t really the right lens for the subjects I want to photograph now. I got it for photographing sporting events, which I’m now sick of. Now my interest is mainly wildlife which I’m finding are frequently too distant for a 200mm lens. And ever since I bought the F4L I was a bit bummed that I didn’t hold out for a 300 or a 400mm.

So yesterday I was at Remax asking about buying a property to get out of this tin can before winter and they told me I need to get a credit card and buy something and make some payments… Apparently I have no credit rating at all, I’m a ghost ๐Ÿ™‚ The reason being of course, I despise credit cards… but I need a lens and I need a place to live, so perhaps I’ll get a card and journey down to Mike’s and take a look at some Tamron and Sigma 400mm lenses… Don’t think I’ll be able to swing a 400mm Canon L series, although that’s what I would like ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I probably don’t need to do a whole lot of shooting this fall anyway, with money on the table at Adobe Stock my time will probably be better spent uploading the thousands of images I have already captured. I have already started the process with 20 autumn images from Crystal Reservoir and a few from the summit of Mount Yale which I hiked last year. The golden tundra of the alpine peak and the shimmering water of Crystal Reservoir on Pikes Peak should make for a good start ๐Ÿ™‚

The really good news is that sweet little Kitsune has been found and we will be going to retrieve her from dog jail. I hope the fine isn’t too much… Payday isn’t until tomorrow!