Hiking the Limber Pines Trail

Spectacular Pikes Peak View

If you want beautiful views of Pikes Peak and a brisk three mile hike in the mountains, the Limber Pines / Ring the Peak loop in Catamount Ranch just west of Woodland Park, Colorado might be just the ticket. If you are planning to go on the weekend I recommend getting there early, probably well before 8:00 a.m. To get there take highway 24 west from Woodland Park and just at the top of the hill past the hospital start looking for Edlowe Road on the south side. From there take Edlowe Road all the way to the end where you will see a small parking lot.

To start the loop just head up the trail and a steep hill to the trail map sign and a fence. Go

North Catamount Reservoir

through the wide gate and you will find yourself on a trail that goes left and right. It is the Limber Pines trail that is the start of the 2.8 mile loop. If you go right you will be on a beautiful forest trail that switchbacks down to the dirt road that is the Ring the Peak trail. Be sure to look towards the east for views of Pikes Peak as you make your descent towards the reservoir. Y

Take a left here and you will walk the road towards and the along North Catamount Reservoir where the road finally leaves the reservoir and begins a

Spectacular Pikes Peak View

long ascent up to the top of the ridge. There are some fantastic views of the peak and a beautiful mix of aspen and pine forest along the way. Finally you will find yourself near the top of the climb at which time you will want to be looking for a trail sign which marks the other end of the Limber Pines Trail. From there it is a short walk back to the gate where your hike began.

If you decide to go the other way, obviously you will be walking down the dirt Ring the Peak road past the reservoir where you will need to be looking for the trail sign and the ascent on the Limber Pines Trail back to the starting point. Be sure to bring plenty of liquids to drink, the trail is only 2.8 miles but the ascents can be strenuous for those not acclimated to the elevation.

Spectacular Pikes Peak View

Snow Shoes Required

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

Today there were no questions about whether the snow shoes were going to be required. One look at the trail and the question was answered, deep snow all the way to the summit and beyond. There was a cold wind out of the west this morning and as I strode up the mountainside and it wasn’t long before my ears began to tingle in pain from the searing cold. I shivered a little and pulled my sweatshirt hood over my head and then for good measure I cinched up the hood from my windbreaker as well.

My hopeful eyes scanned the ridge line as the dense pine trees drew closer, but there

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

was no wildlife in sight on this frigid morning. Finally I cleared the summit hoping to be greeted by the Three Amigos as I call them, the three bucks that seem to so thoroughly enjoy that mountaintop but they were not there. In fact there was no sign of life in the high clearing at all, no tracks, no droppings, nothing at all to indicate that I was going to have any wildlife photography success.

So I resigned myself to the idea that I was just going to have a nice snowshoe workout and maybe some good views of the mountains. And as always, the view from the summit never disappoints. The Sangre de Cristo were spectacular today under their heavy coat of

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

fresh snow with what appears to be another winter storm gathering on the high peaks of the beautiful block fault range.

On my way down I encountered the tracks of a lone coyote and I wondered how he would survive the long hard Rocky Mountain winter. How could any animal survive the wicked cold and winds at this elevation? As I listened to the whoosh, whoosh of fresh powder beneath my snowshoes I found myself hoping he would, hoping I would hear the howls of his pack in the spring warning me not to get too close to a new litter of pups.

And as I thought upon the beauty of these small feisty predators it also came to mind that

Coyote

I shouldย  write some letters to the politicians to demand an end to the indiscriminate and cruel murder so many of these tenacious animals face, and I hope you will write some letters and make some calls too. And please make special mention of halting the inhumane and unnecessary medieval practice of trapping that has been banned in over 70 civilized countries all over the world. Also please do all you can to bring an end to “yoting”, the vile so called sport practiced in Wyoming and Montana described in this excellent article from High Country News,ย  of running these animals over with snowmobiles, leaving them wounded and maimed, left to suffer a horrible painful death, alone in the snow. What kind of people are they who think of this as fun?

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets ready for hanging, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift and handy household items are also available, including coffee mugs, phone chargers, blankets and pillows, apparel, all with a beautiful Rocky Mountain image from SW Krull Imaging

Window to Pikes Peak

Siamese Twins at Garden of the Gods

I’ve been wanting to do this short hike for a long time, for the sole purpose of photographing Pikes Peak through the little window in the Siamese Twins Rock Formation in Garden of the Gods Park. My family from the midwest was in Colorado for a visit, so going on so a hike with my brother Jim was the perfect reason to take the trek!

You could make the climb to the famous formation by parking close by and making a short climb just to see the red spires but we decided to make a longer journey and see the rest of the park by beginning our hike at the visitor center. GPS later informed us that it is about a four mile round trip journey from that starting point.

And it was a perfect clear sunny Colorado autumn day to photograph the Great Peak through the Siamese Twins window through the sandstone rock.

Siamese Twins at Garden of the Gods

Changing aspen leaves are visible on the foothills and the sky was that famous Colorado signature blazing blue color!

As always these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting materials. Many cool gift, household and tech items are also available, just click to explore!

 

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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!

Footsteps Trailhead

Beautiful morning for a hike and Grouse Mountain is my go to trail for getting some exercise for me and my four legged hiking buddy. Still have my eye on the distant trail, but not enough time today. The Sangre De Cristo were extra beautiful this morning so I decided on the dead end road around the east side where it looked like there might be a better view.

As I neared the cattle gate I spotted an intriguing flag that I had never noticed before… Obviously I was obliged to check it out and much to my surprise it is a trail flag marking a zig zag pathway through the barrier, probably designed to keep Motorcycles out. No view, but I did find a shortcut to the distant mountain I have been eyeing ๐Ÿ™‚


Got a shot or two with my phone cam and some great shots with my Canon on the way home. No time to process those today, but I should have them on my website soon, be sure to click the links to the left or in the menu if you are on a smartphone!

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