Fierce Winds and a Panorama

The mountains were magnificent today, recent storms have blown away all the smoke and fog. It was cold and windy this morning and I knew the hike to the summit for the view was going to be unpleasant at best, but I was determined to get a panoramic image of the splendor before me. Unfortunately I was right, the fierce winds were freezing my ears so I had to pull up both hoods, my sweatshirt and my coat were both needed to stay warm. My lungs burned from the cold and the steep ascent as I made my way to the best overlook of the distant mountain range.

Clear Skies on the Sangre

Finally, I was at the top and the great mountain range spread across the horizon before me. As I stood in the fierce winds I readied the camera for a panoramic shot, camera on full manual… shutter speed at 1/250th, aperture f8 and ISO 100 for the best possible quality with the least amount of digital noise. I tried to shoot hand held but 50 mph winds were buffeting me so that I was not able to even stand still. The horrendous wind was causing my eyes to water and freeze shut, definitely not conducive to shooting a carefully arranged panorama!

Eventually, half frozen I finally got my five shots to cover the range and hustled back down the mountain into the shelter of the trees. There was no wildlife on the mountain today, apparently the animals were smarter than I am πŸ™‚ There were a few little birds hiding in the shelter of the grass but I didn’t take the time to try to capture any images of them on this day, it was just too cold on the mountain.

Pair of Mule Deer

Back at the parking lot I decided that I wasn’t ready to call it a day though and turned Big Blue towards Eleven Mile Canyon. I was hoping to see some elk or deer along the way and I was also hoping that my favorite spot along the river might be sheltered from the wind. I found a small herd of mule deer grazing just outside the boundary of a llama ranch so I stopped to get a nice shot of this buck and his doe πŸ™‚

Beaver at Eleven Mile

The eagles weren’t at the nest when I arrivedΒ  but I decided to pull out my camp chair and and just wait awhile to see what might develop. As I sat I heard a loud slap in the water upstream… the telltale sound of a beaver entering the water. Sure enough, the beaver had exited her lodge and begun to slowly swim around in search of something… then something unusual, she decided to just drift slowly downstream while facing upstream, something I had never seen a beaver do before. Eventually the huge rodent was right across from me about 10 feet away, enabling me to get a few nice closeup images

Beaver at Eleven Mile

The eagles eventually did show themselves but unfortunately I was not able to get a shot of either of them.Β  The male appeared briefly over the mountain and then flew away before I could get focused and the female landed on a branch behind the trunk of the tree. Frustrating!

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!

Panorama of a Storm

The skies have cleared and the warm Colorado sun is shining on the freshly snow capped mountains once again. I decided to try and get out for pictures and a nice snow shoe trek… which turned out to be no easy task. I quickly discovered that my windshield scraper had met a cruel fate sometime in the last couple of days so I was reduced to trying to scrape with only a piece of the blade 😦 Eventually the defroster kicked in and I was able to get out of the driveway.

Fresh Snow on the Sangre

The roads in town weren’t too bad and I was quickly on my way to the trailhead. However the highway was extremely icy and even though I spotted an amazing looking herd of elk I dared not stop for fear of being unable to get going up the hill again 😦 As I passed by the overlook I noted that it had been plowed and was easily accessible if I were so inclined.

Unfortunately the parking lot at the trailhead was not plowed and as I pulled in I could feel my tires slipping and spinning on the icy snowy mess so I just kept going so I wouldn’t get stuck. I barely made it back out to the entrance so I ran the stop sign and continued back towards town.

The conditions weren’t that great for photography, lots of haze lingering in the air obscuring the complete bright white mantle of fresh snow on the Sangre de Cristo, but I decided to try my luck at the overlook anyway. I snapped a few of the magnificent range when it occurred to me that this might be a good day for a panorama πŸ™‚ I set up the shots in manual mode, iso 100 with 160th of a second and f11 for good depth of field. The image combines 15 vertical exposures into a 120×20 inch full size image using thephotomerge feature in Adobe Photoshop. The sky wasn’t an even blue all the way across due to the bright sunlight on the middle of the scene, but I think it turned out halfway decent… What do you think?

Fresh Snow on the Sangre

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!

Top of the Ridge

Winter was supposed to come early to southern Colorado and Cripple Creek last night… we got a little snow and some cold but the worst of the storm came in the form of some very dense and treacherous fog for anyone trying to drive through the darkness. It did make for a beautiful night in downtown Cripple Creek though with the lights of the casino district glowing softly through the snowflakes drifting lazily down from the frozen mountain air.

Sangre De CristoOften after one of these storms the action in the mountains the next day can be breathtaking. I awoke early and the doggy was ready for a hike so I decided to see if I could make the top of the ridge behind Little Grouse Mountain where there might be a good view of both the Sangre and the Collegiates. It has been awhile since I have hiked that far but I thought it would be well worth the effort in pictures if I was right.

It didn’t take long before I got a taste of what I was going to see if I could make it to theCollegiate View top of the ridge. I didn’t even know if there was going to be a trail up there but pressed on anyway, ghostly trees in the shaded valley below created an amazing wintry scene. About a half hour in I was at the base of the ridge and there was a faint wagon trail calling my name, leading up and around to the top. Have to say it was a tough climb after a month or two of taking it easy, a fourteener in the immediate future may not be in the cards! Looks like there might have been some gold there at one time, it appears quite a few of the original explorers decided to stake mining claims there. Only the ghostly remains of their hopeful efforts are visible now, a few rocks and some caved in digs.

Sangre ViewFinally we reached the summit and the view was indeed magnificent, the Sangre to the south and the Collegiate Peaks to the west. Looks like the Collegiate Peaks have been getting a bit of snow already, not so much further south. The remnants of last night’s fog filled the high plains between Victor and the Sangres, exactly the panorama I was hoping for πŸ™‚

My legs are tired and sore and the dog is contently sleeping as I process the pictures and recall the beautiful morning. These images are but a couple of the pretty good sized batch I was able to capture this morning. Please be sure to visit swkrullimaging often so you don’t miss out on the wealth of imagery I have been able to acquire this fall!