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 🙂

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 as  they were  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 🙂

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!  Well I  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

 

 

 

Endurance

This time of year always reminds me of the big endurance races here in Colorado, the Pikes Peak Marathon and the Leadville 100 Mile “Race Across the Sky”. Although it has been a long time since I have run the race I know the trials and tribulations of attempting to run 100 miles at an average of 10,000 feet of elevation have permanently changed my mindset regarding what the mind can force the body to accomplish.

Steve & Dad Leadville (wordpress)When my buddy and I were on the descent from our winter summit of Mount Elbert last year, we knew we were nearing the parking lot but it was getting cold and dark and we were really tired from 10 hours of hiking in snow. That’s when your mind starts telling you that you aren’t going to make it, or you are on the wrong trail, or that you didn’t prepare and train enough to accomplish what you are trying to do. He said to me, maybe we should just stop and camp… I’m sure I was just as exhausted and miserable as anyone could be but I said no, we can make it… I said we could go another 50 miles feeling this miserable! Lol, sounds funny but it’s true.

The Leadville 100 is an out and back race from the town of Leadville, Colorado to the ghost town of Winfield at an average of 10,000 feet over three mountain passes including Hope Pass at 12,600 feet. And I can tell you when you summit Hope Pass the second time after 12 hours of running with your legs feeling like two pieces of useless rubber, sick to your stomach and heart feeling like it is going to explode inside your chest, there is no earthly reason why you should believe that you are going to be able to run another 45 miles over two more mountain passes… in the dark.

But somehow all the training, past experience, determination and pure force of will come together to keep you going, just because you can and because you can’t bear the thought of living another year with the specter of failure hanging over your life while you train another twelve long months for another shot at it. And once you stagger across that finish line you are somehow different and the change applies to many aspects of life. Things you thought you would never be able to accomplish become possible. Things that cause others to shrink in fear are small in your mind now. In your chest beats the heart of a champion and no one can ever take that away from you, ever.

The picture is of me and my dad nearing the finish line in Leadville. My dad was a runner too and I always liked having him pace me for the last section from Twin Lakes on into town… He was my life coach when I was growing up and while others might have felt sorry for me and maybe allowed me to give up so close to the finish line I could always count on kind words of encouragement from my dad… Lol… like “oh shut up and get going, we’re almost there!”… 🙂 I always liked this picture, not because it is the most scenic or dramatic but because it is the one that shows the sheer magnitude of the race. The mountains in the background towering over the skyline are where the war takes place. Looking back now it is hard to even imagine crossing those mountains twice, but I did and I am a better person for the experience. Good luck and Godspeed to all who are facing the monster this year!

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

 

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

Rocky Mountain Winter

Got some good hiking in this morning, now working on staying ahead of the curve by getting some more winter pictures done. Have to say, these images of our Mount Elbert winter hike in January of 2016 have to be some of the most memorable shots I have ever taken.

It was a beautiful morning and we were climbing the east face of the mountain with the sun at our backs so the snow and the entire mountain was brightly lit. Those pictures were really nice, I got some good ones of the Mosquito mountains up by Leadville from the mountainside and a few of Twin Lakes far below us. We had a beautiful mountain jay following us part of the way, and then judging by the footprints we also had a mountain lion to contend with. But by that time we were above tree line and could see for miles all around with no lions in sight. Still, a bit unnerving but we forged ahead. We hoped the lion might be more interested in the bighorn sheep we could see far in the distance.Mount Elbert Summit in Winter

The hike was more difficult than we were hoping for, the 14ers.com guide said it would be snow packed all the way and all we would have to do is follow the micro spike tracks. But that turned out to be a bit of an optimistic view as it had snowed a bit the night before and a lot of wind had covered the tracks in some key places. We had a large clearing to cross and it was completely snow covered. We somehow found the trail under the snow and by poking our ski poles around we were mostly able to stay on the trail, but one wrong step and you were buried up to your waist in powder and it was very difficult and time consuming to get back out.

Summit Mount Elbert in WinterThen there were no less than three false summits, so early estimates on a summit time were way off and we were about to give up when all of a sudden we found ourselves on the summit. Very strange… we were just walking along wondering how much further the summit was going to be while discussing turning around and suddenly there was no more mountain in front of us. And it was the most amazing scene before us, nothing but snow covered mountains as far as the eye could see. By that time it was about 2:00 p.m. and the lighting was very strange… At 14,439 feet of elevation the late afternoon light was very bluish and hazy. And totally quiet except for the breeze blowing. I could have used Photoshop to take the blue out of the images, but when it comes to art I am a bit of a Realist and want my pictures to show what it was really like. The temperature wasn’t bad when we first arrived, but about 20 minutes later after we had enjoyed the summit experience for awhile it started getting cold, really cold! It had taken us about eight hours to summit and we only had three  hours to descend so we thought we had better skeedaddle! It took about an hour for the burning to subside in my fingers and toes from that last few minutes at 14,439 feet.Steve Krull at the summit of Mount Elbert Colorado in January 2015

The full collection of those images, at least all the ones I have done so far can be found in my Rocky Mountain Winter gallery. There are also tons of other images from snowshoe hikes in snowstorms, wildlife in the snow, blizzards and beautiful lighting on Pikes Peak in that gallery. The images can be purchased as glossy wall art on metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional framed prints, and as gift items including coffee mugs, phone cases, greeting cards, t-shirts, household items, lifestyle gifts and more. Commercial stock versions of the art can be purchased by clicking here for the image licensing portal.

 

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