Joy in the Sky

When I arrived at Eleven Mile Canyon this morning I was glad to see three osprey in the nest and papa osprey not at his usual perch.Β  That meant I was about to get a shot of him flying in with the morning catch πŸ™‚ I looked around and didn’t see him in the air so I started climbing up to my own perch. Unfortunately that requires a couple of minutes with my back to the nest… I turned around just in time to spot one of the critters landing on a cliff nearby even though I hadn’t seen any shadows overhead indicating the arrival of the papa.

Osprey Chick First Flgiht

I whipped up my camera as quickly as I could and got a shot off just as the raptor was landing πŸ™‚ Odd place for papa to land though, I thought… Closer inspection revealed that it was one of the youngsters! His first flight, about 20 yards from the nest over to the top of a cliff πŸ™‚ He looked pretty proud of himself, doing some kind of little osprey dance where they kind of weave from side to side and bounce up and down… I’ll try to get some video footage of that now that I have a still of him in flight.

Eventually Papa did fly in and I was ready for him to land on the nest but he flew behind the trees and right on by the nest over to a tree near me on my side of the river. So I trained the camera back on the youngster hoping he would fly back to the nest. About a half hour later he started to stir, taking a couple of test flights just a couple of feet off the ground and then off he went, swooping past the nest and into the sky πŸ™‚ That’s the moment in the above picture… he looks so determined! No more worries about him being stranded on the cliff as he proudly soared high in the clear blue Colorado sky, making several passes past the nest and into the trees to the south.

Osprey Chick First FlightLol… it appears his landing skills are still needing some work though, I could see that he wanted to land on a couple dead trees but he overshot the target and had to continue on :( Eventually he made it to another massive bare rock where he clumsily landed high on top of a cliff. He rested there a while before once again taking flight, swooping past the trees and soaring high in the bright Colorado blue sky. It seemed like pure joy after all these weeks of being nest bound, bouncing up and down and trying so hard to follow his powerful parents into the freedom of the sky :)

He found another landing spot on the very top of the cliffs, far above the roaring river below, dangerously close to territory claimed by the buzzards who were circling today as Osprey Chick First Flightalways. I wondered where papa was, having not seen him in quite some time. As I watched through my 400mm lens I spotted a bird in a tree right above junior. I focused in and it was the ever watchful father osprey, on a perch not 20 yards from the new aviator. I should have known, the osprey are always watching their young, never both out of sight of their offspring and I know these formidable predators will never allow them to be harmed. In the picture below you can see the young one on the rock and the father in the tree overhead.

Osprey Chick First Flight

Well anyway, what an honor it was to be there for the little osprey’s first flight, I’m still pinching myself. The younger raptor was also busy today, catching a little air himself, or herself, I don’t think you can tell male from female… unless of course you are an osprey! I imagine the sibling will be taking flight in the next few days too… perhaps I’ll be there when it happens!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

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 πŸ™‚

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 asΒ  they wereΒ  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 πŸ™‚

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!Β  Well IΒ  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

 

 

 

Layers of Stress

`At first, upon Tricia’s death I was even more stressed out than I was before. But as time passes I can feel myself unwinding, as if it is one layer at a time. For so long I have been in a race against time, running one errand at a time and coming right home to see if everything is OK, followed by a sprint to another errand or appointment. Doctor’s appointments were literally an all day scramble to get ready and get there on time. A missed appointment could be a catastrophe, another week without medicine, pain pills or referrals to necessary treatments. Too long at any one errand and I could find a plugged air hose, a missed medication, or a relapse into AD.

So now I find myself still racing around, heart pounding, running and racing, skipping meals and forgoing my own needs. But each day is a little better, a little more relaxed, a little more like I used to be. Today I was on my way to Denver via Black Forest and I noticed I was speeding and my heart was pounding, and I thought to myself, why? There was no real possibility of anything going wrong, I just had to make a little drive and come back. And if I could just slow down, I could even make a nice day out of it. So I forced myself to think of the pleasant things that would come after my appointment. Lunch, I wanted to have lunch. I haven’t had time to stop for lunch anywhere in a year. So when I got back to the Springs I decided to get a salad at the salad buffet on Garden of the Gods Road. And I forced myself to not hurry.

View through the keyhole

View through the keyhole

Soon I was proceeding past Garden of the Gods and I thought, why not pull in? Why not drive through it instead of past it? But what about the time? Well what about it, I have plenty of it now. Once in the park it was so beautiful. Brilliant snow covering the peak and the early spring light bathing the red sandstone spires with beautiful afternoon glow. The weather was perfect as I was hurrying through, and I thought, why am I hurrying again? Why not stop and take a walk? I have been wanting to try the Spring Canyon trail for a long time, so I forced myself to pull in and park. It was so worth it to see new parts of the park that I had no idea even existed from racing past on the road. Fantastic views of the peak, rock features that I had never seen or even heard of. I was hoping to snap a couple of pictures so I would have something to do tonight and I ended up with eighty. I will be busy from these for a while!

Finally I let the boy kitties out the back door for some sun and exercise. For some reason they didn’t take off as usual and were just hanging around the door as if they wanted something. My chair in the backyard was in the sunshine and it looked so inviting, so I just decided once again to stop everything and just go watch them play. They were happy to see me out there once again after months of having to entertain themselves. Soon they were back to running back and forth, batting around various objects that have collected in the yard over the winter. I forgot how much I enjoyed my kitty time. As I sit there watching their fun my mind slows down and the important things manage to bubble to the top while the days unimportant problems sink to the bottom.

So as I continue this journey it is like stress is falling off in layers. Entire levels of worry melting away. New plans forming, messages I need to send to old friends, and most important of all… I am starting to feel closer to my God again. He has felt so distant for so long but as I rested in the yard with my critters it started to sink in that He was never distant, only obscured by so many layers of stress that have been piling on gradually without notice until they had become an unbearable burden. But time passes and with each day another layer falls off. I don’t know how long it will take, but I hope soon the burden will be lifted.