Wilderness at First Light

Last night I knew that there was a very good chance today was going to be a great day! The snow had stopped last evening and the storm had moved out into Kansas and Oklahoma. The temperature wasn’t going to be in the below zero or single digit range, and the mountains are always awesome after a big snow. So, tired as I was I dragged my butt out of bed at 5:30 this morning to get in a cup of coffee before the short journey to the trailhead πŸ™‚

Frozen Gold Mine

Early fog and mist created this beautiful ghostly scene of one of the many abandoned mines in the Cripple Creek area and was well worth the stop for a capture. It turned out even better than I expected, which I’m pretty happy about. So many of these mine pictures just turn out to be so ordinary that I have almost given up shooting them! Glad to finally have one I am proud of πŸ™‚

A deer was at the trailhead to greet me, although the lighting wasn’t too spectacular with the sun yet to clear the ridge on the east side. She showed some slight interest and gazed at me for a few moments while chewing some mountain grass. Cute mule deer

I was hoping to see a big buck mule deer on top of the ridge, but was excited to see that the elk herd was right out in the morning sun, well on their way to their hiding place in the dense pine wilderness. I don’t think they ever really saw me as they didn’t break out into a gallop likeΒ  they so often do, but just continued a leisurely stroll along the edge of the forest. They did stop and look my way, which is always good for pictures but I really am surprised they didn’t run.

Winter Morning Elk Herd

With my 100-400mm glass I was able to isolate groups of them on their way as well as capture the overall scene with my favorite tree in the background. I also had time to snap a few to make sure I at least got something on my sensor before switching to aperture priority mode and f8 to make sure I got a sharp rendering of all the elk, not just the ones closest to me, which was where I chose to focus.

Eventually all the huge beasts disappeared into the woods and the moment was gone. I saw a couple of deer along the road on the way home but nothing spectacular enough to include in this blog post.

Winter Morning Elk Herd

As always these images and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic, stretched canvas, traditional framing and matting and on many cool household, tech and gift items!

Winter Morning Elk Herd

 

 

Winter Morning Elk Herd

 

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Lot of Catching Up

Not much happens in the world of stock photography between Christmas and the new year… But in January the publishers will go back to work and begin their ad campaigns and projects for the new year. So I am spending the time catching up. I still have

Historic Mine in Autumn Aspen

hundreds of photographs from throughout the year that I have not yet processed and uploaded.

I remember this photo shoot well, just as the leaves were reaching peak color in the Cripple Creek area. I did load a few of these into the autumn gallery on my website, but for the most part any images I work on now will be uploaded to my stock agencies where they will be on sale for commercial purposes.

Dog Days of Summer

My photography really struggles this time of year. The landscape is all dried up and the lighting is harsh. Sunrise is way too early and by sunset I am so tired I’m ready to drop. Hence… not many pictures taken lately.

Sunrise Mine

But the time has not been wasted. I have had an Instagram account for a long time but it was pretty lame, only a couple of dumb pictures of myself taken with my phone. I briefly tried to use the laptop to upload a couple of better ones from my DSLR, but couldn’t find a button that would let me do that. So my account has languished for years, until now. I purchased a data wire so my laptop and my phone can work together and found a way to upload my best ones from my laptop πŸ™‚

Don’t know if an Instagram portfolio is going to do me any good. I got off to a roaring start with tons of followers but they are slowly beginning to dwindle, probably in direct correlation with the number of images I am uploading. Time will tell, but I am having fun going through all my old best images, reminiscing about the adventures that I have undertaken πŸ™‚

Morning Bucks

Did pick up a couple of nice shots of this mine the other day though… Big Dog and I working hiking out in the mining district hoping to see some wildlife. As we were strolling along just after sunrise I happened to glance up at the mine and noticed the beautiful splash of color directly behind it. That was about it for the day, but sometimes one good one per outing is a pretty good day!

This image and more are available for purchase as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, and traditional frames. Tons of cool gift items are also available including beach towels, battery chargers, phone cases, greeting cards and more!

 

Approaching Colorado Storm

I had heard on the news last night that winter was making a comeback in southern Colorado so I planned to awaken early to try to get in a hike before the snow began to fly. Fighting through the fog of fatigue, I managed to get out the door right at first light which gave me time to stop at Bronco Billy’s for some 50 cent breakfast of French toast and coffee.

Sangre De Cristo Storm Clouds

Clouds and fog fill the Arkansas Valley ahead of an approaching winter storm

As I got to Grouse Mountain the sun was just cresting the ridge on the east allowing the sunlight to shine on my peaks and fill the Arkansas Valley with a beautiful morning glow. The first sign of the winter weather greeted me as I summited the peak and could see to the west and south that the entire valley at the base of the Sangre De Cristo to the south and the Collegiate Peaks to the west was filled with a lake of clouds and fog. It was quite stunning in the morning light, I do have to say so myself! So obviously I had to take a break from hiking to set up for some shots of the amazing scene below. Now that I am looking at the images on my computer I am also delighted to see how much color there was in normally colorless fog bank below.

Pikes Peak Colorado

Southwest face of Pikes Peak Colorado

There was a small herd of cows on the trail where I usually take a loop around the side of the mountain to get back down so I decided me and the dog would just go back around the mountain the other way. Nothing good can come from walking the dog through a herd of cows, that much is certain! Nothing on the way down worth stopping for so we just loaded back up in the truck and headed for Victor. I like to take a loop around the big gold mine on the way back to Cripple Creek in hopes of spotting some deer or elk high on the pass, but no luck with the wildlife today. There was however a magnificent view of the southwest face of Pikes Peak in the early morning sun worth stopping for and on my way back to the truck I also noticed that the abandoned mines looked amazing in the early morning winter sunlight. The clouds were really getting gloomy in the valley though and the view back in the most scenic direction was too dark to be worth shooting.

Gold Mine near Victor Colorado

Abandoned mine near Victor and Goldfield Colorado in the beautiful winter morning light

By then I was really feeling the fatigue from my previous week of graveyard shifts and some coffee at home was sounding pretty good. So I turned the old Dodge towards home only to have to make one more stop. There was a nice view of town and the approaching storm available on the overpass so I stopped for a couple of captures there.

I would have to say my first real day of 14er training was a great success… unfortunately the wobble in my legs and aching muscles are telling me that my planned 14er summit on Quandary Peak is yet a way off! Fortunately I don’t have to lose a bunch of weight in my training regimen… just get my leg strength and endurance back from the long winter away from the alpine trails.

The clouds at home have thickened and the wind has picked up significantly, now blowing out of the north. I can feel snow in the cold air that is settling in here at 10,000 feet in the southern Colorado mountains. Glad to be home with my coffee and looking forward to processing more of these pictures!

These images and many more can be purchased as prints on beautiful glossy acrylic or metal sheets, in traditional framed and mat materials and on wrapped canvas. Commercial stock licensing is also available. Please click the links to the left, or in your menu if you are using a smart phone to view my complete portfolio.

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 πŸ™‚ 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 β€œTrail”. 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 πŸ™‚

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!

More Gold Mines

Nothing new to see on this morning’s hike… the peak looked the same as always and I didn’t get a chance to photograph the deer herd before they headed up the mountainside on terrain too difficult for my two legs! So I just finished my hike and made my usual rounds to the gym, the Donut Mill for coffee and the library to get on the computer and see if a house I can buy may have come up for sale. No luck there as per usual. Then I wracked my brain for a while trying to think of a new place to go photograph within a reasonable distance… Felt kind of like Curly for a little bit, “I’m trying to think but nothing is happening!”. No luck there either.

Independence Gold MineEventually I decided to just come home and work on uploading some new images from photo shoots done earlier this year. Looking back I decided that my trip to Victor in March is a good place to start. Have a bunch of nice images from that day that I need to get processed and keyworded. It is with a bit of sadness that I work on these though, twice this year I came close to getting a house there only to have the loans fall through for various reasons beyond my control. Still hoping, though I know now it’s a long shot.

Anyway, I managed to get three more of the Independence Gold Mine processed and they are now available on my website on Pixels.com as print and RF stock. The history of this area is rich with imagery and stories of the old west. I can only imagine the harshness of life in these mines on the rugged mountains surrounding Cripple Creek and Victor at elevations well above 9,000 feet. It’s a rough go even now just to photograph them, and in pleasant weather to boot! I hope you visit my site and enjoy these images and more.

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

 

Tour of the Mines

Had a day off from unloading Walmart trucks yesterday… Didn’t bother to make any plans as I am usually soΒ  trashed from the trucks the day before that I am unable to function, but unfortunately I was up way early anyway with nothing to do. Was going to make my usual rounds running errands, which mostly consists of going to the gym and Walmart, lol not a whole lot to do in Woodland Park. Was looking forward to the burger special at the bar later in the day, but other than that, nothing 😦

Elk in the Fossil Beds National MonumentHowever, as I was on my way to the gym I thought why not take a cruise through the Pike National Forest over to Divide to see if there are any elk hanging around… Didn’t see any, but decided to pick up a Gatorade at Venture Foods and continue on down Twin Rocks Road to Teller 1 for another look.Β  Not much there, but I did spot one pair of the giant beasts running from the mountains over to the Fossil Beds Monument and managed to grab a couple of shots of that action.

By then it was early enough and I was so close to Cripple that some 50 cent biscuits and gravy were sounding pretty good… Plus I have been meaning to take a drive down the Tour of the Mines Road so I kept aiming the old Dodge south towards casino town. A quick walk for the doggies and I was enjoying a very economical breakfast before heading out for some serious pictures of the mines at the base of the magnificent snow capped Sangre De Cristo mountain range.

Abandoned gold mine near Victor ColoradoI drove a few miles down the rough dirt road south of town but wasn’t seeing anything impressive enough to continue so I just turned around and went back through Cripple Creek. I’ve also been wanting to take Highway 82 over to Goldfield. I was there a long time ago exploring the mines with the wife and was wondering what might have changed since then. As it turns out everything! Hard to believe how massive the Newmont Mine has become… When we took the road years ago, it was just a little dirt road winding through the forest past some abandoned mines. Now it is a highway past the massive crater that was once mountains. The mines that were once little abandoned, and probably quite dangerous death traps are now marked monuments, complete with fences and signage. But it was still fun to retrace the steps I had taken with my wife so long ago before the cancer changed everything.Newmont.jpg

Took the other way home, past the beautiful west face of Pikes Peak. By the time I got home it was raining pretty hard and getting cold. Was very tired and it was too early for burger night so I decided to just make the best of the excellent sleeping weather by taking a much needed map. Had to light the pilot light and fire up the furnace first though! 45 degrees indoors seemed a bit on the chilly side for almost the middle of May!

Be sure to watch for the rest of the pictures to be posted in the coming days! Click the links on the upper left side of the article to find the categories for prints, gift items and stock images!

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