Withdrawal

My favorite place in the world is the alpine tundra high above the treeline and it seems like forever since I have been there. Definitely feeling the effects of adventure withdrawal 😦 My last summit was Mt. Columbia in the summer of ’16. Since then it has just been one thing after another… Money, injuries, truck repairs, you name it πŸ™‚

Finally though, the settlement for the work injuries and the down payment for a house and a new start in a new town with a new job! With the hardship, problems and bad memories of Woodland Park behind me I was looking forward to exploring my new piece of the Colorado Rockies! But then, the fateful grinding noise from somewhere in the bowels of my truck. Best guess… Throwout bearing or flywheel bearings 😦

Looks like the snowshoes, micro spikes and poles will remain in the closet indefinitely while I wrangle up the funds for yet another repair. No trails within walking distance here, not that I can find anyway.

On the other hand, the economy is finally picking up and I am starting to see a pickup in print sales, my bread and butter when it comes to photography πŸ™‚ Maybe it won’t be so long! Maybe a view like this one from the summit of Mount Elbert will not be so distant after all.

Also my photo lab has added a ton of new products including some that would make for cool Christmas gifts including the latest, yoga mats custom made with one of my images πŸ™‚ just click the print sales button in the menu to bring up my image galleries and once inside a gallery just click your favorite picture to see all the cool products that are available!

The Knoll

Got a bit of a late start today, just could not drag myself out of bed. But it would not have mattered anyway, there is so much mist from all the rain that I can barely see the peak from here. Was kind of hoping I would see some wildlife on the drive through the forest on the way to the trailheadΒ  where I walk the doggies, but no such luck. Sometimes the wildlife look kind of magical in the mist but they were nowhere to be found today.

Misty Pikes Peak

Heavy mist on Pikes Peak

So I didn’t even bother to bring my real camera along on the trail, even if I saw something the doggies would not let me get a decent shot… So you might say, don’t take them along! Lol… Besides the cute furry critters in the woods there are some not so cute ones! We have bears and mountain lions roaming that forest and I like the advance warning I get from my friends with super powers when it comes to hearing and smelling πŸ™‚ So I just took my phone camera and snapped a couple of scenery along the way.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers on the way to the knoll

I have been eyeing this knoll for a while now. There isn’t a real trail leading up to the top of it but the underbrush looked pretty easy to navigate. So today I had the time, the sleep the night before, the energy and the right day and I decided to climb the thing. A bit anticlimactic though, I couldn’t really see anything from there, and when you look at it in a picture it doesn’t look like much. But it is actually quite steep and maybe a couple hundred foot climb.

What the heck, the box in the sky for climbing that one is checked, the wildflowers were pretty along the way and the exercise was great for the doggies who are now snoozing happily on the bed πŸ™‚ As we were coming back down the trail it was getting pretty hot and I was thinking of places I might go afterwards to beat the heat but just as we got back to the trailhead a thunderstorm started to roll in and the temperature dropped rapidly. Made it home just in time to avoid getting wet πŸ™‚

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 Clearing

Continued my exploration of the new trailhead and trail system that I have been working for the last couple of weeks. After encountering “the gate” I had to branch out in a new direction and the cool cloudy morning we are having seemed just the day to do that. So early this morning the puppies and me forged ahead further than before, hoping to find a route up to the top of the ridge and maybe yet another view of the majestic mountain across valley.

Sunset on Pikes Peak

Beautiful summer sunset on Pikes Peak Colorado

By then little old Kitsu looked like she was getting tired so I decided we would just keep going back to the beginning. Just as we were getting ready to head back up the switchbacks I noticed a car driving in the woods! I watched to see what it was going to do when I figured out where exactly we were, at another trailhead parking area that I have used before.Β  It is also the place I came down to the time I descended the back side of Bald Mountain, and swore I would never hike again, incredibly steep there! Well anyway, I know where I am there and from my new trailhead I am happy to discover that I can go anywhere on the entire ridge from there, from inside Woodland Park all the way to Rampart Reservoir if I wanted!

Black-Bears-4I wonder how many miles and how many hours I have spent hiking that trail system? I have hiked it in summer, winter, fall, rain, snow and near darkness. I have seen deer, elk, bear, coyote, bobcat and all kinds of birds including eagles and hawks. The trails and the forest on this little patch of the Pike National Forest have been an amazing source of peace for me for almost a decade now, I feel so fortunate to live so close to such solitude. Countless pictures I have taken along the way, many of which can be viewed in my Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak fine art imageΒ  gallery. The commercial stock version of those images can be found by clicking here. Many more can be found in my wildlife gallery.

Definitely looking forward to many more miles of trail, changing seasons and abundant wildlife on this ridge now made accessible by my new favorite trailhead πŸ™‚

 

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

Wings of Eagles

After the possibilities I discovered yesterday in my new trails paradise I was a bit more eager to get in the truck and get back up there today. I didn’t realize how hiking the same exact trail every day for eight years had become complete drudgery. I never even liked that part of the trail, the scrub oak growing everywhere is just plain ugly, especially in the winter when it is just a maze of sticks to ruin every picture that I take there.

Paradise Peak FXThe new trails are beautiful, they remind me of pictures I’ve seen of the rain forests of the Northwest. Beautiful pine trees standing over rocks and a beautiful forest floor of pine needles and naturally growing junipers. The steep trails on the south face of the Ute Pass Valley are heavily shaded and filled with the pungent smell of pine.

Today we climbed higher than yesterday… There are quite a few forest trails and deer trails going everywhere up there and I need to make sure I get used to them from both directions before going too far at one time. Not that it is really possible to get really lost there, but a wrong turn on the way down could cost a long hike through town back to the trailhead, something I’m sure neither me nor the doggies would appreciate. So today we actually made it to the end of the deer trail and onto some sort of main trail that looks like it could go for miles… I am eager to discover where it leads.

Near the top of our ascent today there was a clearing and a magnificent view of the morning sun cascading onto 14,115 foot Pikes Peak. As we stopped to take in the view from up there I was actually happy for a bit that my nemesis that has been harassing me on the old trail forced me to expand my horizons. As I mentioned earlier, I was sick of the old ugly trail to nowhere and the new one is a hikers paradise.

Which also brought to mind a story that I heard a long time ago… The story is about eagles, how when they are flying low they are often harassed by the small birds, blackbirds and crows and such. But the eagles with their great power and majesty do not bother with the lesser birds, they just soar ever higher until they arise to heights their pesky adversaries cannot attain. So it is in life, as I stood there high above the town and my nemesis looking at the lofty peak across the valley I realized that I had taken the right approach… stop bothering with my pesky adversaries and soar higher, so high that they cannot even find me, much less hang around and bother me.

 

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

Spring Again

The storms of early April have finally abated and sunshine has returned to Ute Pass. I am getting a late start today and even though I knew that all the wildlife would have already finished their morning feeding and bedded down for a nap, I need the exercise and the climb up the mountain as conditioning for adventures later this summer.

As I strode along the rugged trail I contemplated my future. Her recovery at the hospital is progressing slowly and not all of the news is good. Cold hard reality is settling in as I confront a future completely different than the one I had planned. How does one come to grips with the possibility that all of our hopes and dreams and plans may not be possible after all?

The mountain was magnificent this morning with a brilliant white coat of fresh snow and I managed to stop and snap a few pictures that I was looking forward to sharing. After returning I went about my usual exercise of exchanging the camera chip with one from the bag, putting the new chip in the reader and the old one in the camera. For the first time in almost 10 years of digital photography I elected not to hit the view button before formatting the chip. As I watched the chip in the reader load onto my laptop I was mortified as I realized that this was also the first time in 10 years that I didn’t actually put the new chip in the reader. I now have two copies of the April 3 snowstorm on my hard drive and no pictures of the magnificent mountain today.

Oh well, I’m glad I learned my lesson on common images. The mountain doesn’t look any different today than it did last spring so it was no big loss. And I did get the exercise that I went up there for in the first place.

Just so you can see what it was like, here is an image from last spring πŸ™‚

Fresh Snow

Fresh snow on Pikes Peak