Tough Day in the Canyon

The week began with bitter cold and snow, a lot of snow… but as luck would have it there would be a break in the winter weather just in time for our planned adventure in Waterton Canyon. The forecast was calling for sunshine and 40’s on Thursday and the plan was, the sheep would be ready for a break and would come down into the canyon to pose for us 🙂

Red-taile Hawk in Waterton Canyon

Previous experience told me  that the road into the canyon was going to be a muddy mess from the melting snow, terrible conditions for a mountain bike ride so the decision was made to attempt the journey on foot. Spirits were high as we began the trek into the wilderness wonderland along the cascading South Platte River, looking forward to another awesome bighorn sheep encounter. Soon we rounded the bend by the water pipe where we often see the herd of bighorn… no sheep in sight. No matter, there are other likely locations further in. Second likely location, no sheep…

After a break for some Gatorade at the picnic area we decided to press on to the old dam by the house… also no good. Finally we decided to continue past the halfway point dam to the highest point in the park where we have seen the elusive creatures this year. Again, no luck and we decided to head back down in hopes that the animals had come down from the upper reaches behind us on their daily visit to the river for water.

Once again, nothing but a long walk back to the bottom of the canyon. Finally we spotted a bike riding photographer stopped near the water tube looking up into the high peaks north of the  canyon… sure enough, there were a couple of rams way up near the summit, pretty much out of range for decent photography. In the end we decided that at least one snap of the majestic beasts would be better than none, but while we were preparing for the shot they disappeared into the brush. it looked like a climb up the slippery slope might provide a better view so we began the ill advised ascent to the service road, which proved as treacherous as it appeared.

With a couple of slight mishaps and lenses covered with a good scoop of snow, we arrived safely at the plateau where the search for the better view began. Unfortunately all the climb accomplished was to increase the angle of view to the point where we could not see at all over the dry brush covering the mountainside 😦

Wintry Manitou Springs Colorado

On the way down the service road I spotted a white object on a cliff above us, so when we arrived at the closest point and best view we took a look through the long lens to ascertain it’s identity. Turns out it was a majestic looking Red-tailed hawk gazing fiercely over the canyon, I assume in search of prey that might become a good lunch. This would become my only wildlife photograph of the day 😦

The day wasn’t a complete bust though, we did get the benefit of a seven mile hike 😦 Plus  on the way through the Colorado Springs area, there was an amazing view of Manitou Springs from the highway that I have been wanting to acquire for years. Sometimes I don’t have my camera, often I’m in a hurry and don’t have the time… But yesterday I had  the camera and the view was extra fantastic, no excuse not to stop!

These pictures and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Also on my website is a new gallery just for birds, raptors, birds of prey, song birds, waterfowl, you name it! I finally feel that I have enough images of birds to warrant the new collection!

New Photo Galleries on Website

Cold out this morning… not that it stopped me, I still took the big dog for his walk but with wind chills of zero we didn’t go quite as far. Instead today I am restructuring my website. Seems some of my categories are getting a bit full making it difficult to locate the images you might be looking for. So, I have added new galleries for bighorn sheep, for predators such as fox, wolves and coyote, and a whole section just for elk! However, if you just feel like perusing through a lot of wildlife pictures the original all inclusive wildlife gallery is still available. I have also retained the all inclusive Rocky Mountain Winter and Colorado Rocky Mountain galleries with huge collections of mountain landscapes 🙂

Baby Mountain Goat

I also had a gallery for Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak that I set up when the only images of Pikes Peak I had were shot from Garden of the Gods. And that was when I lived in Parker! Since then I of course have moved to Woodland Park and now Cripple Creek where my pictures of Pikes Peak have massively expanded! So today I have separated out the two subjects into specific galleries for Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. There is also a gallery for Manitou Springs and the Incline if that is what you are looking for 🙂

And of course I have also had to add new galleries for Cripple Creek and the historic mining district, and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range which are my main subjects these days! There is also a weather gallery for those seeking pictures of storms and approaching foul weather! I hope that I have done  this in time to assist my readers in giving the gift of art for Christmas!

Cap Cloud on the Sangre

Next on my list… off to the store to purchase a new lead for the big dog. He somehow managed to break his unbreakable tether supposedly good for dogs up to 150 pounds! I swear 😦

Different Every Day

My wife when she was still with us used to call Pikes Peak a “Cantankerous Old Lady”, which may well be very true 🙂 However she is also as beautiful as she is unpredictable and she can be counted on to put on a different face every day. I have to carry with me my camera at all times because I never know when she is going to decide to put on a spectacular show. This day turned out to be one of the better ones, the first hint of the storm that was rolling in from the south and spilling over onto the north face of the great monolith. Much of the time when it is cloudy there is no hint of color and all that you can see is a big brown rock peeking out from the clouds. This particular morning however, the Master Painter of Sunrises allowed the sun to barely shine on the north face enhancing the many colors that occasionally shine through.

Sunrise on the PeakI have a 30 year history on this mountain, and can attest to the ever changing conditions visitors might encounter. One time as I was scrambling back down the mountain to avoid the approaching storms, I encountered a group of tourists at the A-Frame wearing and carrying nothing but shorts and t-shirts. One asked me, “It’s only three miles to the top from here right?”. I replied, “Yes, but it is the hardest three miles and a storm is coming, I recommend you go back down.”. They looked at me like I was an alien and headed up the trail. I supposed they must not have perished as there were no tragic news reports later.  I used to train for the Leadville 100 Mile Run by spending every Saturday making the trek from Manitou to the Peak and back on the Barr Trail. The trail is only accessible for a couple of short months but in that time you might encounter anything from a clear crisp morning to blizzard conditions in the same day! Above the tree line thunderstorms and lightning strikes are regular visitors along with teeming wildlife, if you are paying close attention to your surroundings.

The beauty of the Old Lady often belies the harshness of life at 14,000 feet. One time on a glorious winter day I was attempting to summit the west face on snowshoes with my buddy Ralph. We were having a perfect day and had just cleared the ridge and made it a bit past the Pikes Peak Highway intersection when we decided to take a break and enjoy some nourishment for the push to the summit. As we stood contemplating whether we would reach summit in time to make it back down safely before the short winter day would end quickly in darkness, in an instant we suddenly found ourselves fighting for our lives. The mountain decided to blast us with a massive wind gust which we later found from weather reports was probably in excess of 100 mph. The burst actually knocked us to the ground and a complete whiteout raged around us unabated. We made sure not to lose contact with each other and from the look of our frozen beards and skin we knew we had to get off the mountain fast. Our trail was already covered but an outcropping showed us the way and we ran as fast as we could towards it. Soon we were down a few hundred feet in elevation and life was back to normal. At the trailhead it was a beautiful warm afternoon and pools of water were forming all over from melting snow. Now when we see the wind sheer and snow blowing hundreds of feet in the air over the back side of the summit… we comment, “Now I know what it is like up there when that happens!”.

There were no such hardships on this particular photo shoot though, only the beauty of a magnificent summer sunrise. These photographs and others including some beautiful deer that I recently had the pleasure of photographing are available for purchase as prints and royalty free stock on my website. Beautiful wall art products such as prints on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas and traditional frames and mattes can be seen on the regular website while stock images can be purchased from 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