The Three Amigos and a Lot of Fog

As of last night I wasn’t holding out much hope for a day outside today… We are supposed to have cold and rain every day for the entire next week, including a very high chance of rain today. And indeed it was raining before sunrise as the raindrops hitting the window awakened me well before I wanted to be awake. The plan was obviously to use the awesome sleeping weather to sleep! However, by the time I had drank my coffee and chowed down my waffles the rain had stopped. A quick check of the radar forecast indicated that at least for my little section of the mountains, the rain had subsided until afternoon.

Herd of Bucks

So I grabbed my camera and Gortex jacket and headed for the hills. A slight sprinkle at the trailhead convinced me to pack along the rain cover for my camera and off I went. I wasn’t expecting much more than a bit of exercise to help pass the day but as I strode along past the pine forest I could hear a lot of chatter. The birds it seems are not at all deterred by a little sprinkle! As I was getting the settings on my camera prepared for bird photography, a red-tail hawk flew right over me not 20 feet over my head! Darn… but even if I had been ready I don’t think I could have aimed and focused that quick, the whole show was over in about 3 seconds. But I watched where he flew and made a mental note to watch carefully for him on top of the tree branches on the return trip.

Soon I cleared the tree line and walked around to the other side of the mountain. There I could see the expected storm clouds rolling in so I quickened my pace. At one point I stopped to take a look back and much to my surprise I spotted the familiar face of a mule deer buck. I quietly and carefully readjusted my camera settings for the conditions and snapped off a couple of shots before attaching the camera to my monopod for some more stable captures. It was then that I noticed another buck… and then another! It was the Three Amigos as I call them 🙂

Herd of Bucks

They are quite used to me so they allowed me to quietly shoot for a while before wandering off into the dense forest at the bottom of the gulch. But I have to say, I was quite delighted to find them still alive and healthy! I also had the foresight to shoot some video footage, it was quite a scene to find them in the fog! The rest of my walk went as expected and I got back to my truck just as the rain began to increase a bit.

I wasn’t quite done though, there is a spot on Victor Pass where you can see the south face of Pikes Peak and also the historic mines of Goldfield, preserved from back in the gold boom days of the late 1800’s. This can be quite an amazing scene in dense fog so I always try to get up there with my camera when the weather turns nasty! As I arrived  the storm clouds were rapidly filling the valley, so I captured what I could of the mines and then with just seconds to spare I got a nice shot of the peak. Soon it was completely obscured and bigger raindrops were striking my windshield. I took that as a hint that my outdoors time today was over and I headed  back down the pass. Soon it was pouring and I began to look forward to see my bounty on the big display at the computer.

Historic Mines in Fog

I hope you enjoy the video of the Three Amigos and the fog rolling in on my Youtube Channel! Please like and subscribe if you enjoy the content, it really helps me in the rankings to have lots of interaction from the viewers!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Pikes Peak in Fog

Deer Old Friends

Herd of Curious Deer

Not sure what the reason is but for some reason I have had my mountain to myself lately. For the better part of a year every time I arrive the trail has already been cleared of wildlife by people and their dogs but now that nicer weather has arrived I have been able to see my favorite deer herd, including my favorite bucks, the “Three Amigos”. As an added bonus, since mating season is not in progress they have a few does following along with them. Their antlers are just beginning to sprout now so that I can identify them as males and I am fortunate to witness the cycle of life in the mountains anew.

The Three Amigos

As a result of our unusually cold and snowy spring, the Sangre de Cristo continue to be adorned with their magnificent winter mantle of snow. Storm clouds hanging around the area throughout the last week have also added to the beauty of the scene and I have to say the last couple of days have been spectacular!

Today I was inspired to climb to the second highest peak in the area, unfortunately all I gleaned from the extra effort was a bit more exercise… which is OK! A little extra hiking never hurt anyone!

Please don’t forget to visit my YouTube channel to watch videos of many of my adventures in the mountains, and if you wouldn’t mind I could use the thumbs up and a subscribe if you enjoy the content and want to help my channel!

Storms on the Sangre de Cristo

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Misty Mountain Morning Hike

I was tired this morning… tired enough that just sitting in my chair drinking coffee sounded like a pretty good plan. However when I got up to get that cup of coffee I saw all that beautiful fog outside and I knew I was going to have to go out in it! Fog in these mountains can turn an ordinary day into a glorious day of photography 😉

Foggy Pike National Forest

Fog was really all I expected to see but much to my surprise I was met by a herd of mule deer at the top of the ridge. For some reason they were a bit wary of my presence today so I wasn’t able to get a whole lot of pictures before they wandered off into the deep forest.

The fog was inspiring enough that I decided to make a video out of today’s hike and while I was filming the amazing looking fog I mentioned all the songbirds I was hearing on the summit. First time this year I have heard any at that elevation! I discussed how they like to hide in the grass on the mountaintop and fly away the second you find them but I was surprised to notice a little bird off in the fog that wasn’t flying away. So I put my camera on my monopod and snapped a few stills of what turned out to be an amazing looking little yellow and black bird that I didn’t remember seeing before! He stayed long enough that I switched the

Yellow Rumped Warbler

camera to video and filmed him for a couple of minutes hopping around plucking things off the  ground! Later in front of my desktop computer, I discovered that the little fellow was a yellow-rumped warbler, a version of which I have apparently spotted before according to my ebird account.

I also decided to drive on up to Goldfield to see how the fog was affecting the old historic mines there. on the drive to the top to Victor Pass there wasn’t much fog so I didn’t worry too much about pictures. At the turnaround as I looked back though, one of the mines was obscured by a bit more fog so I snapped a few stills as the fog rolled in. It wasn’t long and the mine was completely obscured by a dense mist. Good thing I got the shot in when I did!

Biscuits and Gravy

A nice plate of hot biscuits and gravy  with coffee at the Gold Camp Bakery seemed like a fitting way to end this cloudy misty morning so I turned Old Blue back toward Victor. As usual the place was quite hospitable and a nice place to sit and enjoy being inside and out of the cold wet fog!

Please don’t forget to visit my YouTube channel to watch the video of today’s adventure in the mountains, and if you wouldn’t mind I could use the thumbs up and a subscribe if you enjoy the content and want to help my channel!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Mule Deer in the Woods

Fog in Mine Country

Boot Review – Salomon Quest 4 3 GTX

I’ve been wearing these hiking boots for about a month now… Got them in Alamosa when we were down visiting the Sand Dunes and the Sandhill Crane refuges during an unexpected car maintenance break. Turns out they have a pretty nice Kristi Mountain Sports sporting goods store there right on Highway 160 close to the repair shop, so we decided to go in and kill a little time. I’m always in the market for a good pair of hiking boots so that’s the first place I went and the Salomon Quest 4 3 GTX caught my eye right away. And as you can see from the link, GearLab liked them too!

IMG_20210425_105038457Right off I discovered that the sizing was spot on. Usually I have to get a boot that’s a half to a full size larger in order to keep the toe box from squishing my toes together so I had the very helpful salesman bring me a size 11. I wanted to try a 10.5 but they didn’t happen to have that size in stock. So I gave the 11’s a try and after a short bit of walking in the store I could tell that they were just way too long. The salesman offered to bring me a size 10 so I thought what the heck, can’t hurt to try. Much to my surprise the size 10 fit like a glove. They fit my size 10 feet precisely and the generous toe box was wide at exactly the right point to avoid squishing my toes.

After a short walk I noticed that the sole was a bit stiffer than I’m used to but after a month of wearing them in the mountains I can attest to the fact that the extra support is a real blessing on rocky trails. These boots were comfortable with no hot spots right out of the box requiring no breaking in. That’s saying something since my left foot is fairly jacked up from a bad accident as a kid that causes no end of problems for my feet in a lot of hiking boot models.

I really like the extra long lacing system that smoothly cinches up comfortably with a single pull of the laces. The Gortex membrane holds up perfectly even when submerged in water. I recently had a chance to wade out into a shallow section of the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon and even though the uppers were completely submerged, not one drop of water leaked through. Now of course if you wade into the deep water there is nothing to stop the boots from filling from the ankle opening.

The rugged outsole has excellent traction, carrying me up a steep and somewhat icy embankment where I like to observe my favorite osprey family. You can confidently feel the new Contagrip tread grabbing onto the terrain as you stride up even the most treacherous mountain conditions. I also find these hikers to be quite airy for such a formidable waterproof boot, providing comfort on even the warmest hikes.

I took these out for my longest hike of the season yesterday on the warmest day of the year, walking through rocky fields, snow, mud and even some ice. After several miles of these harsh conditions, plus steep ascents and descents my feet remained comfortable and blister free. Excellent stability prevented fatigue and exquisite construction provided uniform comfort over the entirety of my foot anatomy. All in all, I have to say… these are the best summer hikers I have ever owned, they are pure joy to wear! Salomon has certainly earned Gearlab’s highest honors for this shoe!

This blog post was not sponsored by Salomon or any other company. All gear used in the production of this post were purchase by me on my own volition.

A Wildlife Photography Smorgasbord

I wasn’t sure what I would encounter this morning as I made the familiar trip to Eleven Mile Canyon. I knew that shooting the eagles and osprey was going to be an iffy proposition with both species in the midst of their brooding

Herd of Elk

and hatching season. I always look for elk and deer as I pass the beautiful Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Even though they are rarely spotted, large herds of the magnificent beasts reside there and I always hope to see them.

As I neared the monument I spotted a couple of elk cows out in the open and quickly found a place to pull over. Much to my surprise there were many more scattered around the meadow, all heading my way in a big hurry! Not sure why they were in such a hurry, I guess they just didn’t want to be left behind. I looked across Teller 1 to the west to see what they were moving towards and spotted the bulk of the main herd already waiting on that side. I just started shooting as many of the little groups as I could get my camera focused on… I know these moments are over as quickly as they begin. Later I wished I had shot a little video footage, but the still pictures are my bread and butter and they are often all I have time for.

Bald Eagles at the Nest

Eventually all the animals were on the west side of the highway, relaxing and feeding in a thick patch of reeds as they meandered toward the dense forest to the west. I wanted a capture of the entire herd but by this time all the beasties were facing away from me.

As I approached the entrance to the canyon I noticed that both bald eagles were in the nest so I stopped for a couple of images and some video as they cackled and squawked about something. We now have at least three great blue herons on the lower stretch of river but they were too far away for a meaningful image. A few merganser ducks, a couple of mule deer and some red-winged blackbirds rounded out the big variety of wildlife that were out enjoying a beautiful Colorado spring morning.

I went back to check on the osprey but there was little action at the nest… mama is sitting deep in the nest on the eggs and papa osprey is back on his regular perch high on the ridge to watch for threats, something he seems to have a great amount of patience for! I watched for a while but the cold wind blowing over the ice water of the South Platte River was more than I could handle for very long!

Mule DeerAgain there are far too many images from today to fit them all in this blog post, so please feel free to follow my Instagram page to see  the rest and much much more!

Also watch my Youtube Channel for a short video clip of the eagles!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Merganser Ducks

Mountain Storm and a Coyote

Once again I started a day with low expectations and a main goal of getting some fresh air and some exercise. But like many mornings the mountains have a way of  surprising me. First the view of the Sangre de Cristo Range which I assumed would be completely obscured turned out to be magnificent. Our next cold front and ensuing snowstorm is nearly upon us and the storm clouds are already covering the spectacular mountain range. But right at sunrise good fortune greeted me with a break in the clouds and a stunning view of the highest peaks on the range.

Storm on the Sangre

As I was trying to video the beauty of the range, the camera lost focus as it has frequently been doing for a while now. I decided then and there that I was going to figure that problem out and put an end to it! Many cameras these days conceal menu items that aren’t available with the settings you are using at the time so I made sure I was in video mode and began to examine the focus settings. As it turns out somehow this winter I had changed the awesome smart tracking system on the Canon 90D to use single point auto focus which could probably be named dumb tracking. A quick turn of the wheel and click of the button, and the problem is resolved. And I had no idea the timeliness of that bit of good fortune…

Coyote on the Hunt

My next surprise came in the form of an absolutely gorgeous coyote hunting for rodents in the tall mountain grass. He quickly became aware of my presence but decided the hunting was too good for him to worry about me. I watched him for about an hour, witnessing several successful dives into the snow and grass after his prey. He wasted no time gobbling down his catch before continuing the hunt. I was already prepared for the action with my 400mm lens and 1.4x tele extension so I just concentrated on getting the best shots that I could. When I was confident that I had captured the still shots I needed I switched to video and captured some footage of the handsome creature in action. As I watched I wondered how such a beautiful shy creature minding it’s own business while ridding the countryside of those pesky rodents could be the subject of such hatred from his human enemies. The coyote has to be one of the most misunderstood animals in all of God’s creation. People just don’t understand the importance of these predators in keeping balance in the ecosystem of the mountains and surrounding countryside. I hope each and every one of you will call your representative and lobby against fur products and the wanton destruction of these animals.

Coyote on the Hunt

I guess the moral of this story is don’t let your low expectations stop you from going out. So many times I have seen the most amazing things on the days my expectations are the lowest. When it comes to photography, there is no substitute for being there when the action develops!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Coyote on the Hunt

Aftermath of the Snowstorm

Colorado’s fourth biggest snowstorm in history went on for three days so I was really happy to finally get out and enjoy the mountains again today! I was planning on snowshoeing my trail but when I got to the trailhead it became apparent that the oddities of Colorado’s weather had defeated that idea. Although parts of the county had received as

Snowy Traill

much as three feet of snow with drifting even deeper than that in place, my trail had received almost none. I was concerned on the drive down that there would  be so much snow in the parking lot that I would have to abandon ship and think of something else to do… But when I arrived there was no one flake of snow in the parking lot.

I didn’t even bother to bring my snowshoes with me as I climbed the east side of the mountain. As I suspected, there was a pretty good sized snow drift in the trees through which someone had already cut a trail, making the trek an easy one for me. The scenery on the mountain was even more incredible than usual so I shot a short YouTube video to document the visit, I hope you enjoy it!

Storm on the Sangre

The storm clouds over the Sangre de Cristo Range were particularly incredible looking so I stopped there to shoot a few stills which I will be uploading to my website for sale.

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Deer on the Mountain

My expectations for photography were low on this morning, I was late and people and dogs had already been through the park. Generally in this situation I don’t see so much as a rabbit on the trail. But no matter, I need the exercise and this is the only trail nearby on which I can count on a good workout.

Herd of Mule Deer

But much to my surprise, right in their favorite grazing location was the entire herd. The wind was in my face and I was being extra quiet so I spotted them before they spotted me 🙂 I readied my camera and slowing crested the hill. The deer herd eventually saw me but they didn’t appear to be very alarmed, so I just began taking pictures.  I was able to capture some good closeups before they began to meander towards the edge of the mountain and the dense forest.

Once they were out of range for intimate imagery I decided to take some video I was narrating while I was shooting but for some reason, probably having something to do with my new cheapie selfie stick, I recorded no audio. However I put my mind to it and finally learned how to do voice over with my desktop software and was still able to make a nice video 🙂

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and if you don’t mind I would really appreciate a thumbs up and a subscribe. It

Herd of Mule Deer

would really help my channel to grow!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

How to Find the Eagles

Finally managed to create the video to go along with my how to article on photographing eagles that I published the other day! It was bitter cold in the Canyon today which put a damper on my hiking plans so I was just cruising up and down the canyon searching in vain for the bald eagles. I decided to put my driving  time to good use so I discussed my strategy for success along

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

Bald eagles fishing in the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon, Coloradowith some footage and musings of other endeavors throughout a relatively dull day on the road. I hope you enjoy it anyway 🙂

Please be sure to hit the subscribe, like and notify buttons if you enjoy my content and want to support my channel!

the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Between Storms and Monochrome Toning

It finally warmed up a bit this morning, well above zero with mostly clear skies so I thought it was a good day for a hike. As it turns out it was also a pretty good day for pictures! Although it was just partly cloudy here there were thick ominous clouds hanging over the Sangre de Cristo range at sunrise and it was quite a sight!

Stormy Sangre Sunrise

I saw a lot of evidence of recent wildlife activity in the snow but saw no actual animals on my two mile trek through the fresh snow. Still, there’s something therapeutic about a walk in the mountains. 

These images looked pretty nice in color, but so early in the morning with a lot of haze from the previous storm there wasn’t much color to work with. I decided that these would look much more dramatic in black & white so I used the channel mixer to create the best monochrome version possible. They looked pretty good but I thought I could do even better with a little bluish toning which I accomplish using the “hue and saturation” tool in the Photoshop adjustments drop down. First I click the colorize check box which adds a horrific color and hue to the image. From that starting point I adjust the saturation, in this case I chose 12 to apply just a bit of color. Then I change the hue to the value most representative of my plan for the image, which was 242 in this case. The lightness value I left alone, at zero.

I actually got the idea for doing this while reading an Ansel Adams book filled with some of his best landscapes. I noticed that the default values for black and white weren’t nearly as dramatic as the ones in the book so I read up a bit and learned about the process of toning from the era of photographic film processing. I wanted to find a way to recreate that look and it was just through experimentation and trial and error that I eventually came up with this method.

And of course no day of hiking would be complete without a quick trip over to historic Victor for some biscuits and gravy and coffee at the Gold Camp Bakery 🙂

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Stormy Sangre Sunrise