Little Grouse Mountain

Woke up early this morning with no real plan for the day, but as always I threw my camera in the truck… just in case. The doggies both did their business quickly, which is a good thing, and a big time saver! So instead of my usual trip to the gym I decided to head for the high country in hopes of seeing some wildlife, especially perhaps some bighorn sheep. I have heard rumors of sightings along the route to Cripple Creek and the 50 cent breakfast at Bronco’s was appealing to me as well, so that’s where I headed.

Curious BurroUnfortunately no bighorns, but I inquired as to the possible location of the burro population in town in hopes of seeing them for the first time in the wild in Colorado. So after breakfast I took a couple of roads to the outskirts of town in hopes of spotting the herd. No herd, but while on the hill I did see a big commotion and some ambulances at a casino… probably one of the ancient decrepit souls with oxygen tanks smoking a cigarette that seem to so often frequent those places. Lol I don’t know, just a guess but that is what came to me when I saw the scene. Then as I was on my way back down the hill I heard a big fight going on around some pickup trucks and motorcycles with lots of yelling and cursing, followed by sirens and cop cars. Another foray into the countryside revealed more cop cars and some sort of biker gang having a meeting. Certainly not my idea of a day photographing wildlife surrounded by the peace and solitude of the Colorado Rockies!

Eventually I decided to give it up, but on my way back down Bennett I spotted a burro, then another… hanging out at the jail museum west of the casinos. I wondered, will they let me just walk up to them and take pictures? I had heard they were used to people so I put on the wide angle and sauntered up. Sure enough, they paid me no attention and I started snapping some pictures. About that time a guy came of of the museum and told me they had burro treats inside. So I went in and made a donation and got a little bag of treats to reward them for being such good subjects. In fact they were so good the wide angle was definitely required to get any kind of shot of them due to their curiosity about the camera and determination to put a nose print on the lens! They like to be petted and also like the treats and were happy to eat all that I could give them. Eventually they lost interest when I was out of the treats and moseyed on over to the water tank that the museum provides for them. A big shout out to the museum for taking such good care of them!

Unfortunately, having to have an extra job is taking a toll on my concentration, my body and my photography skills. I knew something was off by the sound of the camera, but paid no attention to my instincts. Turns out the camera had been accidentally set to Tv  at a 20th of a second. I’m lucky I got any pictures at all of the burros, very disappointing… But just the same I am happy this one turned out, it was one of my favorites. Oh well, now I have an excuse to go back soon and see those sweet natured beasts again 🙂

Upon returning to the truck I discovered that Son Boy had found a hitherto forgotten packet of BBQ sauce and had managed to explode it all over the inside of my truck 😦 Actually it was a big relief when I finally ascertained what had happened because when I first saw him I about had a heart attack, thinking he was bleeding from his mouth!!!!!!!!!! Luckily the packets don’t hold much so I was able to clean up in short order and be back on the way. That reminds me… there is still sauce on the ceiling that I need to deal with 😦

Collegiate Peak Mountains in ColoradoWell then, off to Victor… There were a couple of spots along that road I wanted to photograph in the morning light… On the way I spotted an overlook I have never noticed before, so I pulled in to check it out and discovered a nice hiking trail to a small mountain appropriately named “Little Grouse Mountain”, just short enough for the doggies including 14 year old Kitsu to come with 🙂 Nice little hike with all sorts of historic landmarks and interpretive signs along the way. Turns out Grouse Mountain is rich in mining history and there are a number of abandoned sites to study along the way. At the top there is a magnificent view of the Sangre De Cristos and the Collegiate Peaks to the west and northwest.

Finally I had escaped the hubub of a tourist invasion in Woodland Park for “free fishing day”… which reminded me of Tricia. After she was diagnosed with cancer she said she just wanted to go fishing. She had never been and finally decided she would like to just retire and spend some time along a stream fishing. Unfortunately she kept finding too many things to do and never got to go. My advice on that subject? If there is something you really want to do don’t delay, there are no guarantees for a tomorrow in this life. As I wandered the summit of the little mountain and took in the magnificent views I wondered… did the miners appreciate this solitude as much as I was on this day? Were they as appreciative of the stunning views as I was this morning, or were they blinded by greed and the gold dust. I could sense their ghosts as the breeze whispered in the pines, occasionally accompanied by the mournful sound of the historic Cripple Creek Victor narrow gauge railroad train whistle. It had to have been a brutal lifestyle, I wonder if it was worth it? All the work and suffering for that gold only to leave it behind on the journey into the afterlife. And I wonder, am I just like they were? Only with a camera, prospecting for a different kind of gold in the harshness of life in these mountains two miles above sea level. I don’t know, but just the same I thank the Almighty for the legs and the lungs and the opportunity to be able to climb to a place like this and the eyes to see the magnificence of His Creation.

I was so enjoying the solitude, the happiness of finally getting to climb a mountain even if it was only a little one, a place all to myself save for the critters who call that mountain home. But sprinkles soon made my decision for me and it was raining steadily by the time we made it back to the truck. The puppies gladly hopped out of the rain into the camper topper and I decided it was time to return to the madness of the city. But it was a good day in the mountains, not what I had planned but that is ok with me.

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

Peace

Today in my walk through the woods with the doggies, I pondered a question posed to me, “How can there ever be peace”, in reference to the chaos which has beset my life as of late. Peace is of course a good thing, something that should be sought by everyone. I even had a wise pastor one time give the advise to “seek after peace” when trying to figure out how to handle difficult situations. So I’ve been thinking about that lately and it is a bit of a continuation of my previous revelation on faith and taking on life’s hard problems.

The answer lies in determining what exactly is peace… Some people’s lives have the appearance of peace, good jobs, nice looking families, nice homes and stable lives. I once had this, nice house in a beautiful subdivision near Denver. Looked great, but it was far from peaceful. A bully for a boss at work, rich neighbors fighting over everything imaginable, home owners association constantly harassing people. For about a year towards the end of that mess I couldn’t sleep… As I lay there in the dark, in my mind all I could see was the bleakness of a cubicle and a workstation, something that after 30 years had become more of a prison than an office. I would lie awake staring into the darkness, wondering if there really was going to be a Heaven, and if I was ever going to get to do any of the things I really wanted to do. 50 pounds overweight, suffering from chest pains and wondering if I was going to die in that cubicle. During the day in the cubicle it felt like I was going to die. Every time I sat down at the computer my heart rate would start to climb, I would start to sweat and finally I would run out of the room and walk around the little pond in the office complex, only to sit back down and repeat the scenario.

Obviously this is not a sustainable situation and I finally just turned in my resignation. We had a few side businesses that were sustaining us before I got that position and we decided to work harder on those to get by. Unfortunately, the crash of 2008 came along and the music stopped. The short story is, we wound up in the mountains, right where I wanted to be anyway 🙂

Now I don’t have the stability of the nice home and big job, but I sleep like a baby at night. In the daytime I see the magnificence of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, wildlife, and breath the fresh mountain air. But my life doesn’t have the appearance of peace. In doing God’s will for me I have stepped into chaos and conflict with some seriously low life people in my neighborhood. You can’t plant the Cross on a hill of demons and expect to find the peace that the world recognizes and pursues. Yet I look forward to every day and sleep like a baby at night.

So what is peace?

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Peace is between a man and his God, knowing that you are on the path He has set forth for you. Knowing that He is there in the midst of the storm. Knowing that all He has to do is say to the storm “Peace be still.”, and the storm will have no choice but to obey. The answer to the question is that peace is from within, not from without.

 

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.

Soul of a Bear

Yesterday I was profoundly saddened as I was listening to a conversation between some hunters as they discussed their excitement at the approaching hunting seasons. They spoke of being unable to sleep the night before a hunt from the opportunity to get out in the woods and enjoy nature and the feeling of freedom from standing on ground that may have never known man’s feet before.

Black Bear

I was thinking that I have those same feelings before a photo trip. I hike to the same places, see the same mountains, trees, lakes and wildlife. But then they spoke of the thrill of killing an elk or a bear and I was reminded of a picture of a bear that I was able to snap some time ago. I was excited to finally get a shot of a bear. What I was not prepared for was the feeling that came over me when I saw the animals eyes through Photoshop. They say the eyes are the window to the soul and the beautiful spirit showing through this bear’s eyes was truly moving.

This little family of bears was not threatening in any way. They were just meandering about their business of being bears. They stopped to look at me to make sure I wasn’t a threat and seemed to be a little curious as to what I was up to. This has been true of all the animals I have encountered in my adventures in the mountain wilderness. Some of the more timid animals have run at the sight of me, but many just stood there and looked at me, completely unaware that I could be any kind of threat to them. Just as the bear family, they all were just going about their business of being deer, elk, and coyotes.

When I encounter these animals and briefly become part of their lives, the peace and solitude I experience is hard to describe in words. I cannot imagine breaking the silence and peace with the sound of a gunshot and watching one of these beautiful souls drop into a lifeless heap. I wonder at the kind of spirit that enjoys the sudden disruption in the solitude of nature’s tranquility and the end of a life that was previously minding it’s own business unaware that it was a target in a game for someone’s entertainment.

I can only think that such people have not seen these animals the way that I have. They have not looked into their eyes and seen the spirit I have seen. They have not looked through the window to the soul in this beautiful part of God’s Creation.