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

Suddenly Spring

Storm Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range

Last week in the high country of Colorado we were contending with blizzard conditions and temperatures that had plummeted well below the zero degree mark. A couple of days ago several inches of snow fell  in the night on top of last week’s melting snow, turning the entire region into a skating rink, I saw the aftermath including cars buried in the deep snow down the embankments on either side of Highway 67 when I had to drive into town for supplies. However, the view of the mountains as the storm clouds were receding was simply spectacular!

Storm Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range

I love it when the storm clouds, wind and blowing snow pour over the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range to the southwest making my job as a photographer so easy! Braving the wind and the cold aren’t so pleasant but having the chance to photograph such splendor sometimes feels like such an incredible honor.

Today however is an entirely different story, the sun is shining, snow and ice are melting and temperatures will soar into the 40’s for the next few days. Such as it is in Colorado, just when it starts to seem like winter is never going to end, suddenly and without warning spring arrives and for a time it is like winter never was. Of course until about the middle of June we have to keep in mind that winter can rudely reappear at any time with a vengeance!

As always  these images and more are available for purchase as wall art on my website and don’t forget to visit my latest YouTube video to see the elk herd in the deep snows of the high country! Please subscribe to my channel if you like what you see, I still need quite a few subscribers in order to get my custom #swkrullimaging URL that is so important when the time comes to set up my commercial options!

Storm Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range

 

Snow Shoes Required

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

Today there were no questions about whether the snow shoes were going to be required. One look at the trail and the question was answered, deep snow all the way to the summit and beyond. There was a cold wind out of the west this morning and as I strode up the mountainside and it wasn’t long before my ears began to tingle in pain from the searing cold. I shivered a little and pulled my sweatshirt hood over my head and then for good measure I cinched up the hood from my windbreaker as well.

My hopeful eyes scanned the ridge line as the dense pine trees drew closer, but there

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

was no wildlife in sight on this frigid morning. Finally I cleared the summit hoping to be greeted by the Three Amigos as I call them, the three bucks that seem to so thoroughly enjoy that mountaintop but they were not there. In fact there was no sign of life in the high clearing at all, no tracks, no droppings, nothing at all to indicate that I was going to have any wildlife photography success.

So I resigned myself to the idea that I was just going to have a nice snowshoe workout and maybe some good views of the mountains. And as always, the view from the summit never disappoints. The Sangre de Cristo were spectacular today under their heavy coat of

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

fresh snow with what appears to be another winter storm gathering on the high peaks of the beautiful block fault range.

On my way down I encountered the tracks of a lone coyote and I wondered how he would survive the long hard Rocky Mountain winter. How could any animal survive the wicked cold and winds at this elevation? As I listened to the whoosh, whoosh of fresh powder beneath my snowshoes I found myself hoping he would, hoping I would hear the howls of his pack in the spring warning me not to get too close to a new litter of pups.

And as I thought upon the beauty of these small feisty predators it also came to mind that

Coyote

I should  write some letters to the politicians to demand an end to the indiscriminate and cruel murder so many of these tenacious animals face, and I hope you will write some letters and make some calls too. And please make special mention of halting the inhumane and unnecessary medieval practice of trapping that has been banned in over 70 civilized countries all over the world. Also please do all you can to bring an end to “yoting”, the vile so called sport practiced in Wyoming and Montana described in this excellent article from High Country News,  of running these animals over with snowmobiles, leaving them wounded and maimed, left to suffer a horrible painful death, alone in the snow. What kind of people are they who think of this as fun?

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets ready for hanging, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift and handy household items are also available, including coffee mugs, phone chargers, blankets and pillows, apparel, all with a beautiful Rocky Mountain image from SW Krull Imaging

Cripple Creek Sunset

Foggy Sangre de Cristo Sunset

It was a snowy gloomy day in Cripple Creek today and I had almost lost hope for any shooting when as I was on my way home from a grocery run I noticed a hint of fog rolling in from the Arkansas River Valley below. There were also a few clouds that looked like they might be able to  catch a glimpse of the evening sun, so I rushed home, grabbed my camera and headed out into the cold.

My first vantage point near Victor was a bit of a bust as Grouse Mountain in the distance

Foggy Sangre de Cristo Sunset

was all but blocking out every bit of light that might light the clouds. So I rushed back around town and up the other side of the valley to the Highway 67 overlook high above Cripple Creek. It was a beautiful sight with the entire Arkansas Valley filled in with a beautifully lit fog and a golden sky over the Sangre de Cristo mountains 🙂 I took in the scene and shot for a while until it got too dark and my hands were frozen to the tripod 😦

I’m thinking tomorrow morning is going to be a great morning for a hike! And as always, these images and more will be available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, traditional framing and matting and tons of cool gift items!

Foggy Sangre de Cristo Sunset over Cripple Creek Colorado

Lazy Summer Day

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

Too tired and too hot to go anywhere or do anything major today… So I’m working on pictures from last winter to cool down 🙂 When I do a photo shoot I usually quickly process the very best to print and move on to the next photo shoot. This leaves literally hundreds of images in my queue of work to process. Eventually I have to get back to them and send the more ordinary ones off to stock agencies. Once in a while though, I discover one like this one that somehow slipped through my original editing that deserves a second look 🙂

This one I am uploading as wall art to to my website, I really like the heavy snow on the Sangre de Cristo and the clouds on the horizon. Also there are some clouds or fog drifting over the foothills, filling in the Arkansas River Valley with an awesome looking dreamy layer of mist. I just love looking at the Sangre when they do that!

I will probably get around to hanging some prints on the wall today as well. Anything to stay out of the hot sun outside!

Magnificent Mountain Morning

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer

Sun shining, wildlife leisurely strolling through the Pike National Forest, fresh clean air… it doesn’t get any better than this 🙂 I couldn’t get very close to this beautiful deer herd, but maybe this distant shot is better anyway! And the blue sky and cloud mix over the snow capped Sangre de Cristo was simply sublime.

As always, these pictures and more are available as wall art on my website on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift items, handy household goods and tech items like battery chargers are also available!

Beautiful Snow Capped Sangre de Cristo Range

Recovery Mode

Continuing with recovery mode today, after apparently having physically run myself into the ground.  Awoke early this morning with what felt like one arm in a vise grip. Tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t find a position that would relieve the pain in these old joints so I finally gave in and got up. This was about 5:30, so I just got a cup of coffee and settled down in my recliner with the puppies… soon I was back to sleep and my eyes didn’t open until 9:00 🙂 way to late of course for any meaningful photography.

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado

So I just decided that for today some more stock photography uploads were in order. Next on my list of mostly overlooked photo shoots was my road trip to Westcliffe. It was actually a pretty amazing day photography wise… some awesome clouds had moved in over the Sangre de Cristo Range and not far off the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness,  and it was a fantastic day for shooting. I remember it was difficult at the time to decide which were going to be three star, two star and one star images. They were all pretty amazing! The difference might be the placement of the foreground, or the location of the horizon, or perhaps even the configuration of the clouds.

Well for some reason in my initial editing this one turned out to be a one star image which I think maybe could have been more if I had done a little work on it. From today’s batch I wanted to pick the one that was my favorite and with Photoshop make it into a nice print. Black and white seemed to provide some extra drama along with a slight curves adjustment and I believe I have a fine art print to share  and hopefully sell some day 🙂

 

Beautiful Mule Deer Herd

Beautiful Snow Capped Sangre de Cristo Range

The Sangre de Cristo are always amazing… but sometimes they are more amazing and today was one of those days! Tons of new snow now graces these majestic peaks and there was almost no haze today to block the view. The pristine white snow against the stunning intense blue Colorado sky was just amazing this morning.

When the mountain landscape photography was done we began our descent and I

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer

noticed a small herd of mule deer basking in the morning sunlight on the hillside. There are very few trees on the summit so I knew there was no way we were going to get close, but a deer herd in the mountains is going to make a great picture no matter what! My first shots were directly into the rising sun so I knew silhouettes were going to be the result of that situation,  but I snapped a few anyway for a record of the day in case they decided to bolt.

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer

Once I was sure I had some captures the big dog and I began to circle around the hillside hoping that my non direct approach wouldn’t startle them into a run. They kept a wary eye on us as we descended and curved back but they didn’t run! I snapped a few more along the way as the lighting got better and then finally when we were completely on the other side they began walking to the summit. I was about to head for the truck when I noticed they were going to traverse the top ridge with the blue sky as a backdrop so we just waited a few minutes for them to reach the top. Nothing wrong with hanging out in the warm Colorado mountain sun for a while! Eventually they did reach the top of the ridge and I rounded out the days shooting with a line of them heading for cover in the dense wilderness to the south.

As always these images and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Glimpse

Elk on the RidgeAnother glimpse… and that’s about all! The elk were back on top of the ridge but with all the racket my snowshoes were making on the crusty snow it didn’t take them long to notice I was there. So A couple of quick snaps of the camera were all I was able to capture before they drifted out of site into the dense Pike National Forest wilderness.

However all the recent heavy snow has left a beautiful mantle of white on the majestic Sangre de Cristo mountain range, well worth a stop for a couple more pictures. Spring is nearly upon us and there are 40 degree days ahead… I don’t think I’ll be snowshoeing much longer on this mountain, but it was a good winter. I got more of the exhilarating snowy treks in this year than I have in the last ten years put together!

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo