A Glorious Fall Day

Photographer Profile Autumn WorkingIt was a glorious day for an amazing autumn hike in the Pike National Forest of Colorado. The hard part was figuring out just exactly which hike to take! Eventually photo associate and I decided upon the Anne-Marie Falls hike on the western slopes of Pikes Peak which we had done in the spring and discovered the home of a friendly and colorful Wilson’s Warbler. Many Thanks to Kevin for shooting this picture of me hard at work in the midst of the icy water!

Autumn on Anne-Marie Falls Trail

Well the warbler appears to have made the flight to more temperate climates for the winter but there was still plenty of color to be found! The aspen groves on this particular hike are in peak color right now ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a bit chilly to start with, the pond was actually frozen over in spots and there was still frost on the foliage when we arrived. I’m sure I lost track of time as we moved around the pond to different vantage points, but I imagine we were there a couple hours for sure! The frost was soon replaced by the heat of the day as we worked the scene and I was glad that I had dressed for a warm day and not the cold.

Autumn on Anne-Marie Falls Trail

The entire trail was surrounded by golden aspen and I photographed various locations all the way back to the trailhead. I also tried a few more images using the HDR setting on my camera which takes three images at different exposures and merges them in camera. Looks like I used a bit too much intensity today so I am going to need some more practice before I have that method down.

I have uploaded a few of today’s images to my website and a bunch more to my Instagram page if you would like to see more! Please feel free to follow my page there if you don’t want to miss future projects!

Autumn on Anne-Marie Falls Trail

For your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channelย  if you would like to see more of our adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons of my images are displayed!

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!

Autumn on Anne-Marie Falls Trail

Magical Day in the Canyon

One of my most favorite places in the entire world reopened after being closed for months due to the accursed Covid-19 pandemic. I started the day with high hopes, pictures of the bighorn and a bear filled the Waterton Canyon Group and I was so hoping to get my chance today.

Hummingbird on a Perch

The mountain bike ride along this beautiful stretch of the South Platte River as it flows down out of the Rockies on it’s way through Nebraska where it connects with the Mighty Missouri is about six miles one way, unless of course you have the skills to continue on the single track portion of the Colorado Trail! It is not always easy to catch the animals at the river, you have to be at the right place at the right time so I just took a leisurely pedal all the way to the top of the canyon.Strontia Springs Dam is the high point of my ride and I stopped there at the picnic tables to take a break, having seen nothing to photograph for the entire six miles. While sitting there I spotted a cute little hummingbird resting on the very top of a small tree… I wondered if I could get a shot, got out the camera and gave it a try. Fortunately the little fellow sat there for a while and then returned a couple of times giving me time to catch him in a few poses ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually I mounted my bike and began coasting back down, intently watching the canyon walls and the river for the sheep and the bear. I stopped a few times to take breaks and waste time hoping the beasties would come down, all the while asking others on their way up and down if they had seen any animals.

Couple of Bighorn Lambs Playing

Finally near the bottom I refused to give up and decided to ride back up a ways to the the lower dam where I planned to stop for aย  while and hope for the best. As I neared the dam I spotted a few bighorn ewes down by the water on the opposite side of the river from where I usually see them. I snapped a couple of boring pictures of the scraggly looking ewes by the water and then I noticed a couple of lambs further up the cliff side playing on a plateau. Fortunately I captured them playfully butting heads which made for a great picture which I have already uploaded to my website , one of the most magical scenes I have ever photographed ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t think so while I was there because the sun was so

Herd of Bighorn Sheep Ewes and Lambs

bright I could hardly see anything, much less the LCD on the back of the camera! But now that I am home looking at the images on the computer I am pretty happy ๐Ÿ™‚

I wanted to catch some video but the whole show was over within about 15 minutes and about the time I thought about it they were already bedding down. Nothing interesting about animals sleeping ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Eventually the mama ewe noticed that the little ones were not with the main group anymore and the little band of females began the climb up the canyon walls to search for the wayward youngsters. She must have had a pretty good idea of their whereabouts as they went right to them. Soon the entire herd found a shady spot to escape the intense front range heat and lay down for their afternoon nap.

Female Common Merganser

I packed up my equipment and began the ride to the bottom while continuing to hope for a bear sighting. I didn’t see a bear but I did run across these cool looking Common Merganser female ducks which were worth getting the equipment back out for a few captures! After that I was already past all the good animal viewing locations so I pedaled hard back to the parking lot. All in all a pretty good day… a 12 or 14 mile bike ride in spectacular mountain scenery can never be a bad thing!

As always, the best of these images 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!

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

Chaos in the Canyon

Cold and dreary today, my bones ache so I can be pretty sure winter is returning to the high country tomorrow. That was definitely not the story yesterday though, it was nice enough in the mountains but it felt like summer in Waterton Canyon. Beautiful day for a mountain bike ride so even though I was running behind from my trip to Englewood Camera, there was no way I was going to miss out on that!

Beautiful Blue Water of the South Platte in the Rockies

On the mountain bike ride up the canyon I saw evidence of the bighorns, mainly in the form of rocks strewn all over the trail in a couple of prime spots but unfortunately I didn’t see any animals. Stopped on my way back down to try out my 4 stop ND filter on a particularly beautiful spot on the river. Got some nice pictures but the water is really not running fast enough at the moment to warrant a motion blur picture. The canyon walls were dark and would remain so until late afternoon, long after I intended to be on my way home.

Sometimes I like to ride hard on the way down but this day I just took up a leisurely pace

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

hoping to give the sheep time to come down from the mountaintops for a photo op. As I rounded a bend about three miles in I saw a small group of ewes and perhaps one young ram gathered by the river. I rode in just close enough to get set up without disturbing them and readied my gear. It was looking like my 28-105 would be the right lens for the situation, the big 400 mm was not going to be necessary with the critters right on the road and I was hoping to get a wide angle video of them at the stream getting their daily drink of water from the South Platte.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

It all started out well, the sheep ventured down the riverbank to the beautiful pristine blue water of the headwaters of the Platte for their drinks and I moved over to a rocky outcropping in the stream for a good view. All was going well until some other hikers and a couple of horses appeared on the scene. The little herd ran back up the embankment onto the dirt road at the edge of the cliffs and began to feed on the grass and make their way to their

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

trail back up the mountainside. Finally they were out of range for the wide angle so I switched to the big 400mm lens.

As they were meandering up the hillside they dislodged a couple rocks which made quite a noise, scaring the horses who took off running in the other direction. The thundering hooves scared the sheep who then high tailed it to the top of the ledge, knocking a bunch more rocks down, which of course dislodged even more rocks in my direction. I wisely scampered to the opposite side of the road keeping a close eye on a few hefty threats rolling toward me in case I needed to dive out of the way!

Fly Fisherman in the South Platte River

Finally the chaos subsided, the horses stopped running and the sheep went back to eating. But they hadn’t forgotten… every animals was keeping a wary eye on those horses as their riders coaxed them back into their trek up the canyon. it did make for some interesting pictures, all the sheep lined up in a row at the top of the ledge ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually I packed up and headed back down the canyon. I knew there would be no more sheep so I pedaled hard to the trailhead for my long drive back to the mountains.

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool gift items are also available with a beautiful mountain scene, including apparel, bedding and pillows, shower curtains, coffee mugs and tech gadgets includingย  battery chargers and phone cases!

I have also created a YouTube video on my channel for some HD footage of the action! Please subscribe if you like! I have a long way to go to get my first 100 subscribers so I can get my own custom URL!

A World of White

It is truly a World of White on the mountain these days. It has been snowing every couple of days for months and it is just white as far as the eye can see and although there isn’t much color to photograph I was hoping that the day after a big snow would be a good day to try some photographs! If not, it was still going to be an awesome day for a snowshoe hike in the mountains.

Elk Herd on Snowy Mountain

I was also wanting to try out my new Keen Revel III winter hikers that I got with an awesome end of season closeout deal at REI ๐Ÿ™‚ They are light, waterproof and insulated with patented Keen Dry breathable membrane and insulated using a special charcoal bamboo material to keep warmth in and moisture out. Also handy to me is that this is one of the only boots I’ve seen that has a gaiter hook for attaching the front of your gaiters.

The instant I arrived at the trailhead I knew it was going to be a good day. The elk herd was grazing in the thick pine and aspen trees on top of the hill, so I did my best to pull in quietly and ready my camera. Unfortunately there were some power lines in the way and I couldn’t use my truck for a hide. I quietly began to move along the fence in hopes of getting a better angle, but the wary beasts spotted me right away and quickly moved to the other side of the mountain.

There was still hope though, if I could stealthily snowshoe around the other side of the mountain I hoped I would find them lingering in the high meadow on the other side of the summit. So I made my way though the deep snow up the steep trail on the east side of the mountain hoping I would arrive at the summit before they had completed their trek to the cover of the forest. Enough snow had fallen since my last visit that I could barely make out my trail, but faint tracks showed me the way along the partially packed route. I would have been struggling through a couple of feet of powder otherwise!

Eventually I neared the summit aware that the crunching of snow under my shoes was

Beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains in winter

probably alerting the great beasts to my presence. Unfortunately that was the case and as I sneaked around the other side of the mountain I could already see them looking in my direction. By theย  time I came into view for a shot they were already moving towards the dense forest on the edge of the high clearing. I managed to snap off a few shots and then switch to video mode for a few seconds of footage which I was able to cobble into a YouTube movie for my channel ๐Ÿ™‚ By the way, please subscribe to my channel, I am needing a few more subscribers in order to obtain the custom #swkrullimaging URL that I need step up to the next level of success there!

Finally the elk had all moved over the other side of the ridge into the pine trees of the Pike National Forest and out of view so I made my way along the ridge admiring the beauty of the snow capped Sangre de Cristo Range before heading back down the other side of the mountain.

My feet remained warm and dry in my new Keen’s and were so comfortable that no break in is even going to be required. By the way, this article is not sponsored by Keen or any other firm in any way. I purchased the boots and all equipment used in this hike with my own funds on my own volition.

As always the elk images and much more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool gift items, apparel, tech gadgets and household items are also available for purchase all with a beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountain image from #swkrullimaging! Once again, please visit and subscribe to my YouTube channel to experience the beautiful Rocky Mountains in High Def Video!

Elk Herd on Snowy Mountain

 

Winter Wonderland

Heavy Snow in the Colorado Rockies

Awoke to an amazing world of white calling my name ๐Ÿ™‚ A foot of fresh powder blanketed the mountains of the Pike National Forest and I was eager to put on my snowshoes and tackle the deep powder. But not before some coffee and pancakes at the Home Cafe of course ๐Ÿ™‚

The winding mountain road had been plowed but was still covered in a thin layer of the slippery white stuff requiring a good bit of caution to negotiate before I arrived at the trailhead. Unfortunately the parking lot had not yet been cleared but I decided to take a chance and enter anyway. I didn’t think I’d get stuck but figured even if I did that the lot would be plowed before I was back from my hike. It wasn’t long before I had lost momentum and was indeed stuck in the deep snow. No matter, no one was going to be around to complain about my poor job of parking ๐Ÿ™‚

It was a long tough slog up the mountainside in the deep powder, fortunately faint

Heavy Snow in the Colorado Rockies

imprints of my previous climbs were still visible or I would have been sinking two feet into the deep mantle of white! As always I was hoping for a glimpse of the elk herd or even some mule deer, but I was well aware that the animals were too smart to risk a cougar attack with unnecessary risk in the deep powder. Indeed there was no sign of wildlife anywhere on the mountain, save for a rabbit or two.

The storm was over but as it does many times at this elevation on the mountain, snow continued to drift lazily out of the haze enveloping the entire world, reflecting light like a million tiny prisms. I tried capturing the phenomenon but it does not appear that I was successful. I had packed my 100-400mm lens in hope of capturing some wildlife and it was not the best choice for the expansive scene before me, but I did enjoy shooting a few of the snow covered trees with it. Eventually I was relieved to arrive at the summit and catch my breath. The snow was still deep but at least the steep climb was done with!

Heavy Snow in the Colorado Rockies

The aspen and pine trees were covered in frost and snow, looking like ghosts in the distance against the white snow and grey skies in the background. More snow is on the way today so if all goes right maybe I’ll get another chance tomorrow to visit my favorite winter wonderland!

Finally back at the parking lot I was faced with the unpleasant reality that my two wheel drive truck was deeply embedded in the slippery white stuff ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I cleared a bit of snow with the snow shovel that I had wisely packed but it did little good other than to get me a couple more feet along my way. Eventually it became clear that I was not going to get out of putting on the chains, which proved to be the right weapon to get me back on the road ๐Ÿ™‚

Tired and sore now, but still happy that it was a good day in the Colorado high country. As always some of these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets ready for hanging, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Cool gift and household items are also available with a beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountain scene from S.W. Krull Imaging!

Snowshoe trail

Snowshoe trail in deep Colorado snow

Bittersweet Morning

A special morning in the mountains today… After months of closure for some invisible project being performed by the mine to the north, my trailhead is finally open again. Whatever they had been doing appeared to have been completed months ago, but still the trail remained closed. Finally I called and prompted someone to look into it and it turns out that the trail could be opened.

Small herd of mule deer enjoying a beautiful Colorado winter morning

So this morning I loaded up the camera and the snowshoes and headed for the hills. It has been so long… I wondered if my ungulate friends were still there or if they had allย  been shot by the trigger happy redneck population so prevalent here in the high country?

Well my question was soon answered… as I made my way up the steep ascent I could feel eyes upon me. I stopped and looked around a bit and sure enough, peering over the mountaintop were a couple of does wondering what I was up to ๐Ÿ™‚ I stopped for a few shots before ascending further. The deer were waiting for me at the summit, warily staying just ahead of me in case they deemed it necessary to flee.

And ahead of me they stayed… about 100 yards all the way to the overlook where our

Small herd of mule deer enjoying a beautiful Colorado winter morning

paths parted. They meandered into the woods to the north as I turned left to complete the loop and head back down. One lone free range cow greeted me inย  the deep snow, other than that I just made my way back down the mountain in the quiet of the morning.

Sadness filled my heart in the silence of the windward side of the mountain as I remembered my beautiful four legged companion who was so filled with joy at the freedom of the trail and the fresh mountain air his nose was constantly sampling. This was our special place and to be there without him was heartbreaking at first. soon however, I found comfort in the knowledge that he is no longer constrained by the bounds of this present reality and is free to visit his favorite place anytime he desires ๐Ÿ™‚ I think maybe I could feel his presence galloping along the hillsides as I made my way back to the truck.

Small herd of mule deer enjoying a beautiful Colorado winter morning

Happy Thanksgiving 2019

Snow on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

According to Isaiah Chapter 61, He will give us beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. I am thankful this year for a return to peace and prosperity in my house after all those catastrophic years when my wife was dying of cancer. For a long time it didn’t seem like there was much to give thanks for but somehow I always found something to be thankful for, if nothing else that I had a meal to eat on the day and hope for the future.

I’m not one for a huge feast, for gorging myself until I’m sick on this day. In fact I like to

Fiisky Herd of Mule Deer in the Snow

start the day out in the quiet of the woods, burningย  a few calories and getting close to my Creator before celebrating His Great Mercy as weremember that first year that the founders of our nation celebrated their survival in the new land.

When I glanced out the window as the sunlight began to stream over the ridge I could see it was going to be a beautiful morning to be outside. So I loaded up my snowshoes and my camera and headed for one of my favorite trails. The clouds and mist on the high peaks of the

Young mule deer buck in the snow

Sangre de Cristo Range and Pikes Peak were stunning this morning so of course I had to photograph them! Unfortunately there was so much mist from the recent snows that detail on the great mountains is somewhat obscured, but still amazing to behold!

Thanks to all the new snow, the steep sections of the trail isn’t really safe without some kind of traction, snowshoes were my choice today. Not that it takes much convincing, there isn’t much I enjoy more than the sound of the snow crunching beneath my big shoes ๐Ÿ™‚

About a mile in I spotted a small herd of mule deer frolicking in the snow so I got my

Winter on Pikes Peak

camera ready and approached slowly and not directly at the animals so as not to spook them too much. They were already aware of my presence but were unconcerned. For some reason they were running around in the snow under the little aspen stand and I quickly figured out why. It is still the deer rut season and the buck was chasing the uninterested does around. Eventually one of the does made her way down the other side of the ridge for lower elevation and the buck followed her, out of sight. The other does went the other direction towards a big hill that they like to spend their days on enjoying the bright Colorado sunshine.

I hiked on to the top of the ridge where I usually turn around and decided that was going to be enough for the day. I wanted to get home in time to create a Youtube video and to get a few of these images published to stock in time for publishers rush to get their advertising campaigns done for the Christmas season.

Now I feel I have accomplished enough to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine and some Thanksgiving turkey. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

If you like my photography please visit my image website to purchase prints, wall art and tons of cool gift items and tech gadgets with my pictures on them!

 

Exploring Mueller State Park

Finally after all these years of wondering what was up the dark road in the trees along highway 67 I have taken the plunge ๐Ÿ™‚ Drove up to the ranger station and paid my daily pass fee. The nice lady gave me a map of all the attractions and trails available in the park and off I went!

I decided to first just drive all the way through and get the lay of the land before delving into any trail exploration and the winding road took me a few miles back into the vast park, past picnic grounds, campgrounds, horse facilities, an RV park and finally to the turnaround at the north end.

Forest of Mueller State Park ColoradoI was most intrigued by the Ridge View Trail so I opted to hike that one. It looked pretty rugged and I’m no expert mountain biker so tackling that one on foot was my only option. It wasn’t a long walk before indeed there was a stone outcropping and an overlook. Unfortunately there is so much haze and smoke in the air these days that there wasn’t much of a view, just some close by hills in the Pike National Forest.

Finally the turnaround came into view at about 1.5 miles in and there was another

Golden Eagle in Flight

overlook with a little better view than the first spot… I think I would have been able to see the Sangre were it not for all the stuff in the air. As I was preparing to take a picture some kind of eagle soared majestically toward my position so I switched my camera to wide area focus and tried for a couple of captures. At first I was thinking this was a golden eagle, but now I’m not sure what it is, possibly even just a turkey vulture. Don’t know and I don’t feel like trying to find out, I simply don’t have the patience to be aย  bird photographer. Then I was trying to decide whether to go back the way I came or to continue on into some more rugged terrain hoping for a loop back to the trailhead… by the way, the map that they give you at the park entrance, bring it with you on your hike… those trail numbers may come into play later on. Eventually I did the smart thing and just went backย  the way I came. As it turns out the trail I was on came to and end right where I was and there was a possible loop back but it would have involved two additional numbered trails, which of course were on the map that I failed to bring with me ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Mule Deer in the Wilderness

I was also interested in exploring the Elk Meadow trail, sounded like a good place to find some elk to photograph! Not so much… but I did see a fine specimen of a mule deer buck who just stared at me so I could photograph him. After a few shots I went back to my truck for the 1.4x lens extender and the tripod, but by the time I was ready again the huge buck had disappeared into the woods.

When I got to the Elk Meadows trail I could see where it went, right through a large meadow and there simply were no elk there. I had also read that there might be more elk on the north end of the park along the old Cheeseman Ranch Trail so I went to check that out. You have to drive all the way through all the camping areas including the tent sites to get to the trailhead, which is also the trailhead for the Grouse Mountain Overlook. It’s a seven mile trail through the meadows at the north end, which seemed longer than I wanted to hike at that point so I just walked a few yards along the wide path to see if I could see anything. There was another trail off to the left with a sign so I went to check it out. No bikes it said…. hmmm well that must mean that there are bikes allowed on the trail I was on!

Wonderful, with my bike I was going to be able to explore that trail after all! I climbed on my bike and began a long enjoyable glide along the well maintained artery through the woods. I became a bit concerned when after a while I realized I had not had to pedal for a long time… approximately four miles of long time ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Eventually the trail gave way to an unmarked jeep road with a couple of signs that said “emergency exit” and I was getting a little nervous that I had made a wrong turn somewhere. But I fought the urge to chicken out and turn back and finally the trail veered to the west and then made a turn back into the park through a marshy area just behind the ridge. There were a few tough inclines followed by long flat cruises that I was easily able to handle so I took hope that the designers of the park had found a way to get back to the beginning without any killer hills!

In the marshy area I spotted something in the brush moving around so I stopped and dismounted while

Wild Turkeys

gazing intently into the ground cover. I soon discovered that there was a flock of wild turkeys scampering around near a pool of water so I slowly got out my camera and inched my way towards the little group. Unfortunately they spotted me and made their way into a thicket where I couldn’t see them very well. I did get off a couple of not so good shots in poor lighting as they popped in and out of the branches on their way to safety at the top of the ridge.

And just as I was starting to feel pretty good about a quick return to the trailhead, there it was… the price of an easy four mile downhill ride. A trail pretty much straight up the side of the ridge… I quickly shifted into low and powered up the mountain, sweat pouring down my face and stinging my eyes. I could hear the blood pumping through my ears and the sound of myself sucking wind. I thought I was going to spit out my lungs when I finally gave up and decided to stop and catch my breath. Eventually I got back on and promptly had to jump right back off when I couldn’t get going ๐Ÿ˜ฆ At that point there was nothing left to do but push the bike up the hill, a long hard two mile slog to the top of the ridge.

Finally the trail leveled out and I was looking forward to some more pleasurable riding when immediately I came across the sign for the trailhead and that trail was done, just like that!

By then my day was nearing an end and I began the drive back out of the park, hoping to see some stray wildlife in the meadows along the main road. Now that I have some idea of what the park has to offer I’m sure I’ll be back, if for nothing else some nice training rides along the long Cheeseman Ranch mountain bike trail!

Riding Waterton Canyon

As it turns out I was awake at 4:00 a.m. this morning with nothing to do but stare out the window at the darkness. Or… I could jump in the old Dodge and head for Waterton Canyon in hopes of arriving just after sunrise. Been watching with envy as the Denver photographers post all those great shots of the bear and the bighorn sheep on the canyon Facebook group!

Platte River in Waterton Canyon

Well the first part of the plan came together just fine, I arrived at the trailhead parking lot just after sunrise, jumped on my mountain bike and headed into the canyon. Bypassed some deer that were feeding on the leaves on the riverbank, they were pretty much in the dark anyway. Soon I arrived at the usual location where the animals come down and unfortunately there were no bighorn sheep today. So I thought, well I’ll ride up the river for exercise and look for the bear.

Six miles I rode up the dirt road hugging the South Platte River on it’s way down from the Rockies and onward to Nebraska where it meets up with the Mighty Missouri. I watched the banks of the river and the cliffs behind intently for any sign of the wildlife I so wantedย  to photograph. But alas, today was not going to be my day, there was no wildlife to be found. If I had time I suppose I could have made the ride again this afternoon but not sure my legs would have been too happy about that!

Eventually as I neared the end of the ride I saw a small group of people staring at something high on the canyon walls… so I stopped to see what the attraction might be.

Golden Eagle in Flight

Turns out there was a golden eagle perched on top of a rock high on the cliffs overlooking the canyon. I snapped a few shots of him sitting there and then waited to see if he would take flight. It wasn’t too long and he began to rustle around so I readied myself for the shots. Soon his giant wings spread and the big raptor took flight. I had my camera on high speed for the occasion so I rattled off about 20 pictures in the few seconds I had before he flew off out of range along the river.

So the day wasn’t a total loss, and how could a beautiful mountain bike ride along a pristine blue Rocky Mountain stream ever be a failure! Heck, when I lived in Denver I rode the canyon all the time just for the pleasure of the exercise! So, there will be another time soon when I get the chance to find the sheep and the bear. Not tomorrow though… think I might explore Mueller State Park a bit ๐Ÿ˜‰