The Snow is Getting Deep

Deep snow on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

I was surprised when I arrived at the trailhead this morning to find nothing but pristine unbroken snow for me to plow through with my snowshoes. It didn’t take long to discover why I was the first in a while to attempt the steep climb. Most people hiking in the area don’t use snowshoes or cross country skis and today the snow was far too deep for hiking boots. It looked like a few deer had been walking around on the mountain but for the most part it appears that any sensible creatures have abandoned the local peaks for more hospitable territory.

Deep snow on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

All signs indicate the elk herd has returned to the mountain as there were a lot of elk sized hoof prints leading from the grassy south side of the mountain where all the snow has blow away, around the mountain and into the forest. Hopefully I’ll get there early enough one day to see them and get pictures. I’ve seen them from a distance but haven’t been able to get any pictures since last fall when they departed the high ground for their winter shelter below.

The trip up the mountainside was tough but the trip back down the other side was even tougher! The snow was a good foot and a half deep on the backside of the mountain and at one point I managed to slip off the packed trail beneath the new snow, landing me face down in a deep drift… camera first. Eventually I struggled back to my feet where I was able to brush the snow off the camera and lens before any moisture was able to make it’s way past the weather seals to the inner workings. Now that I’m back home the camera is drying out with the batteries out and doors open just to make sure that there won’t be any moisture damage.

I was captivated by the ripples in the wind blown drifts so I tried a couple of shots to see if I could capture the texture. I think a wide angle from a very low perspective would have done a better job of capturing the scene, but unfortunately I didn’t have one along with me. Perhaps next time I’ll take my 24-105mm lens along instead of the long lens. Of course that will be the time I  see the elk herd! I don’t think I want to carry my whole pack, it was hard enough to keep my balance in the deep snow and to extricate myself from the depths after the fall!

Well anyway, I eventually made it to the bottom of the mountain and around to the south side where the snow isn’t as deep and other hikers have packed a trail. I have plans of snowshoeing the trail to the higher peaks this season, but for now my legs were really happy to be back at the truck! Next week we are due to add significantly to the snow pack, perhaps I’ll try that then!

 

Deep snow on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

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Storm clouds following a big Colorado winter snowstorm.

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Storm clouds following a big Colorado winter snowstorm.

The Gathering Storm

Gathering Storm on the Sangre de Cristo

I got out early this morning with the hope of finding some wildlife to photograph on my mountainside. There was a strange and unwelcome warm breeze at the trailhead, odd for this time of year for sure. We have been in the throes of a drought for quite a while now and I have not been having any luck finding animals. I don’t know if they are just scattered all over the mountains or if they have had to migrate to  the big reservoirs like Scagway and Eleven Mile to get water. There is some small hope for a significant snowfall later this week but from the blue sky this morning you wouldn’t be able to tell.

Gathering Storm on the Sangre de Cristo

I was going to walk my usual mile and a half circle but decided to climb the next ridge to see if there might be some wildlife on the other side of the trees. Unfortunately there was nothing, not even the chirp of a winter bird to attract my interest. However by the time I arrived at the next summit I could already feel a change in the weather. A high thin layer of clouds had moved in and the breeze was starting to get a more wintry bite to it. The sun was shining underneath the cloud cover, casting an beautiful glow in the Sangre de Cristo Range to the south. There continues to be a mist that has been taking the sharpness out of the scene but I thought I’d try a couple of captures anyway.

These images aren’t anything to jump up and down about, but I hope you enjoy them just the same. Hopefully in a day or two there will be a new layer of fresh snow and perhaps the animals will begin to gather together for their winter pattern so that I can finally get some pictures!

 

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

First Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

First Snow on the Sangres

The weather report showed a completely average morning today… sun shining, a little chilly… but generally a nice autumn mountain morning. It was a struggle to psyche myself up to take my camera out in such an average morning… but I did it. As usual on the ride to the trailhead I took a glance  toward the Sangre de Cristo range expecting to see the same smoke obscured view that we’ve been seeing all summer. Much to my surprise the magnificent range has received a blanket of new snow and the air was as crisp and clear over the Arkansas Valley as it ever has been!

First Snow on the Sangres

I drove a little faster knowing I was going to be treated to a stunning mountain vista at the top of the ridge. And indeed it was, I stopped for a good half hour to make sure the camera had gathered it all in 🙂 I also took a quick jaunt through the woods hoping for an elk herd on the other side, but I guess all the great beasts were all hiding from the wind in the tranquil valley below.

First Snow on the Sangres and Mine Country

Quick trip up Victor Pass to view Pikes Peak wasn’t as interesting… there was little snow on the massive peak and no clouds to create an interesting picture. However the view from there in the other direction was something to behold… the old historic mines against the fresh snow of the Sangre de Cristo was incredible. And I have to say I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anyone capture this particular view of the  area!

Confident that I had enough imagery to make a good story for today, I decided upon the Phantom Canyon Coffee Shop for a nice cup of coffee and an apple fritter. This may well be my favorite coffee shop, and a place I’ll be spending some time out of the cold this winter! The atmosphere is great, the coffee even better and the barista friendly and helpful. If you can get to Victor Colorado, I recommend you stop in!

First Snow on the SangresAs 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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Finally Some Snow

Snow and Fall Colors on Pikes Peak

Didn’t know what to expect when I rounded the corner and climbed up over Victor Pass, 10,200 feet this morning. I was hoping for some lingering fog or storm clouds from yesterday’s precipitation but I was delighted to be greeted by the season’s first significant snow on the south face of Pikes Peak 🙂 The colors are nearing their peak intensity and the white of the snow really set the scene off!

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to take it all in with the 400mm lens on so I switched to my trusty 24-105L with the polarizer attached. Once I took off my sunglasses I knew the polarizer was the right choice, it’s immediately apparent in the clouds the dramatic effect that polarization has in just the right light. I dialed the ISO down to 100 and selected a 320th of a second for the shutter speed. The camera chose F5.6

Snow and Fall Colors on Pikes Peak

which seemed good enough for the mountain which was miles in the distance. However in retrospect I should have probably gone with F8 and ISO 200. Now I know some photographers will think I should have used a slower shutter speed but in my experience up here on these high passes, the wind is always blowing. I don’t like blurry clouds and the leaves fluttering in the wind also just look blurry if your shutter speed is too low. Regardless of the aperture I chose, I’m happy with the pictures anyway!

I had to hike around a bit to get all the good angles while avoiding power lines and other obstructions but by the time storm clouds had completely obliterated the scene I was sure I had what I wanted. And I see more blue on the radar for this afternoon so tomorrow morning I should get another good opportunity to photograph another layer of our signature Colorado snow 🙂

Snow and Fall Colors on Pikes Peak

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

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!

A Good Omen

Whenever I see a fox in the wild I think of it as a good omen 🙂 Not sure why but it just seems like life is a little better when I have an awesome wildlife encounter like this! We had a pretty good snowstorm yesterday so I was ready to jump in the truck at sunrise in the hope that I would experience a great opportunity for one of those magnificent “after the storm” panoramas on the Sangre de Cristo Range to my southwest.  As I rounded a couple of sharp curves on highway 67 it was becoming apparent that my trip out into the cold early morning sunlight was going to be richly rewarded!

Snowstorm on the Sangre

I was going to have to hustle though, already another storm was moving in and the scene was changing rapidly. I leapt out of the truck at the overlook, switched my camera to custom mode 2 which I had set up for rapid access to my favorite motion blur and panorama settings. C2 takes me directly to full manual, shutter speed at 160th of a second, aperture f8, and the ISO set to 100 in order to get a uniformly exposed series of images with good depth of field and low noise to work with in the automate function of Adobe Photoshop. I snapped off about 15 images to cover the entire range followed by a blank frame to mark the end of the series. Then I turned my attention to a few more intimate images of the individual peaks as I watched the storm clouds roll in over the picturesque range of towering mountains.

Red Fox HuntingThen off to a hike on my favorite trail to hopefully capture some elk or deer in the beautiful fresh fallen snow. As I cleared the top of the ridge much to my surprise I came almost face to face with this beautiful red fox happily chowing down on a freshly caught rodent of some sort, probably a mouse I imagine. Even more to my surprise the little fellow didn’t immediately run off! He just looked at me like he recognized me and kept on with his business. Eventually he strode toward me and walked right past me not four feet away! Too close to even get a shot, with my long lens and 1.4x teleconverter attached for long distance wildlife photography! He just slowly made his way over the ridge, back to his den with a full belly I suppose 🙂 I just stood there in disbelief at what I had just experienced. Most fox encounters I’ve had have been long range sightings, barely close enough to get an image large enough to display in my blog… much less a print quality closeup!

Red Fox Hunting

Eventually I resumed my trek through the winter wonderland on the summit of the mountain. I have to say I love the snowstorms, the times when I have the mountain completely to myself 🙂 Not much was stirring on the mountaintop this morning. Perhaps the wild creatures are all aware of the oncoming weather on the heels of the first storm, snug and warm in their nests and dens.

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!

Snowstorm on the Sangre

Disclaimer – This post is not sponsored and I have not received compensation from any of the products or equipment used in the creation of this post.

Snow on the Sangre

It has been a long time since I have seen the Sangre de Cristo, the fires of summer have left them totally obscured for months. Finally cooler weather, some snow and rain and calmer winds have helped with progress on

Mountain Blue Bird

putting out the fires. The air isn’t completely clear yet but I was able to see the majestic mountain range well enough to see the new mantle of white snow 🙂

Apparently it isn’t cool enough yet to attract the elk or deer herds, but there are plenty of birds! The high meadow on top of the mountain was filled with mountain blue birds and vesper sparrows this morning 🙂 It remains a mystery to me however, how do these birds know to get between me and the sun so that I can’t get a picture in this beautiful early morning light??? Looks like the fall colors are coming early this year! Not sure what the reason is for that, probably just because it is 2020…

Red-tailed Hawk

Both of my favorite red-tail hawks were waiting for me at the bottom of the mountain. Unfortunately they flew away from me in the wrong direction so I couldn’t get a nice picture of them in flight. This one on the light post will have to do for today. I’ll be back tomorrow though, hoping for a better angle!

Snow on the SangreFor your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

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!

Snow on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado by #swkrullimaging

Winter in May

Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

It was definitely winter when I was loading my camera equipment into the truck for my hike on the mountain today! Yesterday afternoon a cold front came through and we got snow, hail, thunder, lightning and wind! This morning the ice was all still present and it took me about 15 minutes just to scrape out a place to see through the windshield!

It was also winter when I started my hike through the fresh snow at 11,000 feet. The

Baby Prairie Dog

wind was blowing and I was glad I had a hood on my jacket, which I quickly pulled over my frozen and aching ears. Eventually I cleared the ridge and thankfully the wind subsided. The Sangre de Cristo range soon came into view in all it’s glory, still sporting storm clouds from yesterdays weather. I stopped there for a while to take in the sound of the wind blowing in the tall pines and the chirping of happy song birds, and of course to capture a few images of the magnificent snow capped peaks.

By now the it was warming up quickly and spring had returned to the Rocky Mountains. The prairie dogs were chirping out their happiness to see the sunshine and luckily for me this one little fellow stuck around long enough for me to get his picture. I moved around to the sunny side while he warily kept a little black eye on my movement. I was able to get two captures before the diminutive creature retreated back into his den.

 

Hiking the Limber Pines Trail

Spectacular Pikes Peak View

If you want beautiful views of Pikes Peak and a brisk three mile hike in the mountains, the Limber Pines / Ring the Peak loop in Catamount Ranch just west of Woodland Park, Colorado might be just the ticket. If you are planning to go on the weekend I recommend getting there early, probably well before 8:00 a.m. To get there take highway 24 west from Woodland Park and just at the top of the hill past the hospital start looking for Edlowe Road on the south side. From there take Edlowe Road all the way to the end where you will see a small parking lot.

To start the loop just head up the trail and a steep hill to the trail map sign and a fence. Go

North Catamount Reservoir

through the wide gate and you will find yourself on a trail that goes left and right. It is the Limber Pines trail that is the start of the 2.8 mile loop. If you go right you will be on a beautiful forest trail that switchbacks down to the dirt road that is the Ring the Peak trail. Be sure to look towards the east for views of Pikes Peak as you make your descent towards the reservoir. Y

Take a left here and you will walk the road towards and the along North Catamount Reservoir where the road finally leaves the reservoir and begins a

Spectacular Pikes Peak View

long ascent up to the top of the ridge. There are some fantastic views of the peak and a beautiful mix of aspen and pine forest along the way. Finally you will find yourself near the top of the climb at which time you will want to be looking for a trail sign which marks the other end of the Limber Pines Trail. From there it is a short walk back to the gate where your hike began.

If you decide to go the other way, obviously you will be walking down the dirt Ring the Peak road past the reservoir where you will need to be looking for the trail sign and the ascent on the Limber Pines Trail back to the starting point. Be sure to bring plenty of liquids to drink, the trail is only 2.8 miles but the ascents can be strenuous for those not acclimated to the elevation.

Spectacular Pikes Peak View