Do Over

Well, for whatever reason, yesterday’s fall picture trip was a bust. I failed to notice power lines in a lot of the images and those things are really time consuming to remove with Photoshop. Also it was too windy so the blowing leaves just made the images look blurry. And the wasted time… yesterday I decided that it would be a good idea to drive up Rampart Range Road  which I just noticed has made the most dangerous roads list, and photograph the Peak behind the golden aspen of autumn. However, the golden aspen are still green up there, the road is absolutely wretched and the Peak just looks like a big brown rock. Outside of Kansas, it was just about the ugliest scene ever.

Historic Gold Mine Colorado

So as I was pondering what adventure today might bring I was thinking a do over was probably the most profitable remedy possible. The autumn leaves around Cripple Creek seem to be the most magnificent that I have seen anywhere and the loop is an easy one to complete. So I arose early this morning and loaded up Big Dog for a hike. Fortunately we were able to beat the wind this morning so the leaves were behaving nicely on the trees and as luck would have it there were the coolest cirrus clouds hanging around high in the bright blue Colorado sky. They reminded me of angels… perhaps there were angels helping me today 🙂

After our little hike we headed south to Victor in hopes of getting some images of the mines and the north face of the Peak… without power lines :-|I was thinking that maybe the polarizer was to blame for some of yesterday’s failure but I could see the colors were so much more saturated with my sunglasses on that it was going to be necessary to use the dark blue glass again. Today the effect was amazing… it really brought out the blue sky and the angel clouds! To account for the one stop of light loss I was just extra careful to steady the camera on the hood of the old Dodge or on handy fence posts. Now that I’m back home in front of the computer I can say I am extremely happy with the results. The images are clear and sharp, the blue sky magnificent, and the colors deeply saturated just as I had hoped.Pikes Peak in Auutmn Aspen

Now I’m ready for tomorrow… truck all gassed up and maintained, pictures backed up, memory chips cleared, camera equipment ready to go… and with a clear head from our nice hike today I think tomorrow’s destination is going to be Twin Lakes. I have seen some images from there lately that make me confident that the leaves have achieved  peak color, the water should be awesome, the sky clear and the temperature amazing! I made that trip a decade ago and ruined the day with a bad choice. When I rolled into Leadville I went out to Turquoise Lake first only to discover that there really isn’t any autumn color there, only pine trees. By the time I got to Twin Lakes it was an ugly cloudy gray day… the trees up Independence Pass were beautiful, but the gray skies and wind made the water choppy and murky and with no light on the color it was a total bust. It has been a long wait for my return to that location, but it should be worth it!

These images and more are now for sale as wall art on my website, including glossy metal and acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas and with traditional framing and matting!

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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 the  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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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!

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Tour of the Mines

Had a day off from unloading Walmart trucks yesterday… Didn’t bother to make any plans as I am usually so  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.  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