Socked In

Wasn’t expecting anything much on our hike this morning, especially after the extra special day I had yesterday with the Daniels Park Bison… but you never know when the elk are going to show so the camera is always at the ready! As we approached the first ridge I could see to the south that the mountains were going to be putting on a good show, not going to be an ordinary day after all 🙂

Fog in the Sangre de Cristo

As for the rest of the climb… the snow is mostly melted now, just a couple of small patches to contend with on the way to the summit. A beautiful spring morning in the mountains soaked with warm golden sunshine. Perhaps this long winter is finally coming to an end! As we cleared the first ridge I could barely see the majestic Sangre de Cristo poking through above the roiling storm clouds below. Some kind of weather is on the way… hoping we don’t get a dumping!

Fog in the Sangre de Cristo

Advertisements

Grandeur

Rough legged hawk Soaring Above the Rockies

Sometimes in the morning I stop to just thank God for the grandeur of the surroundings that He has blessed me with. These majestic mountains, the beautiful wildlife and the peacefulness of this incredible wilderness. And this morning I was doing exactly that when I noticed this rough legged hawk soaring high above me.

It is a good omen I think, a sign that the almighty was listening to my grateful prayer 🙂 It is also my prayer that through my pictures others will see His handiwork and appreciate the wonderful gift that He has given us in this amazing planet with all it’s wonders.

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

New Snow

Snow was falling steadily when I finally turned in last night. I knew it was going to be amazing this morning so at first light me and the big dog went out to investigate. With all the fresh powder from the night’s snowstorm the snowshoes came in handy! Big Dog was bounding through the new snow like a puppy, and the receding storm clouds over the Sangre de Cristo range were breath taking 🙂

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

And I have to say, this 400mm Canon lens is amazing, the magnification, the exposures, the contrast, all stunning. And for big 400mm glass, this lens is quite easy to carry around. The tension ring is a beautiful piece of engineering, easy to loosen when you want to zoom and easy to tighten when you don’t want the lens extending while walking or running. Plus you can lock your lens in place at any focal length and it won’t creep in or out while you are shooting.

This shot was taken from the top of the ridge where we finally turned around to head back to the trailhead, my favorite picture of the day. One day when I have more time I will go back and process some more of these captures for the stock agencies.

As always this image and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, and with traditional framing and matting. Cool gift, household and tech items are also available with one of our images! Just click on your favorite picture to see all the product options and pricing!

Unexpected Gift

Mystical Clouds on the Sangre

My legs felt like rubber this morning and my eyes didn’t want to open. On my way to get my first cup of coffee I looked out the window and there was nothing but clouds in the direction of the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo. So I got my coffee and I sat on the couch, probably as close to comatose as you can get ;( Couple of cups of coffee and a healthy chocolate chip muffin later Big Dog was at the door, looking at me with those huge pleading brown eyes… what are ya gonna do. Grabbed the camera bag and headed for the snowshoe trailhead. Along the way I took a good look at the overlook at the mountains… still nothing. Looked like I was just going to have a nice morning romp in the snow with the big dog.

Eventually we cleared the ridge and the huge peaks of the continental divide came into view.

Mystical Clouds on the Sangre

The clouds and parted somewhat and the scene had evolved into this beautiful wispy, mystical cloudy mountain landscape made for picture taking! So I snapped a few then moved to the north a ways to get a different angle but by then the largest peak was becoming completely obscured again. Just happy now that I was there to capture these images at the right moment when the clouds parted for me to see the Sangre de Cristo Range 🙂

It’s been a while since I have seen any wildlife up there, I have no idea where they went. Maybe in the severe cold we have been having they all decided to move to lower elevations? I’ll get my chance to check out the lower valleys later this week so stay tuned!

Stunning Sangre de Cristo

It’s not always easy to put down my coffee and go out into the cold with my snowshoes at sunrise, but if you want to get the pictures there is no other choice. There is nothing like first light on the mountains. However it does help to have an enthusiastic partner… Big Dog is always ready to go, well before sunrise if need be 😦

So off we went, to the trailhead while looking for any deer or elk we might find along the way. Past the overlook, it didn’t look like this morning was going to be anything spectacular and I saw no need to pull over for any photography there. At the trailhead… strap on the snowshoes and head up the mountain into the cold and the wind. My eyes scanned the edge of the forest for any critters that might be trying to catch some early morning rays, but there were none. I don’t know where the animals all went but I haven’t seen any stirring since the elk departed the other day.

It was looking like all we were going to get today was some exercise, nothing wrong with that though! There is no such thing as a bad day of snowshoeing! But as we crested the ridge I could see the tops of the peaks and something had dramatically changed! The sun was shining underneath the cloud cover right onto the Sangre de Cristo Range giving them a stunning soft early morning glow that would take your breath away! So me and the big dog began running, not an easy thing to do on back country snow shoes! But I knew the scene would not last and there was no shot from where I was. It was about a quarter of a mile to the edge of the mountain I was on and we had to get there before the light changed!

Sunrise on the Sangre de Cristo

Of course Big Dog thought running in the snow was the bomb, but by the time we got there I was pretty out of breath and wondered if I would even be able to steady the long lens. But most importantly, we had made it in time and the soft glow of first light still shown magnificently on the rugged range in the distance. I dialed back the ISO to 200, down from the 400 that I was prepared to shoot wildlife with and decided upon a exposure compensation of +2/3. A little fiddling and I tried a few more with ISO 100 and a few with compensation of +1. As I look at the pictures on the computer I’m not sure which worked out better, but they all turned out beautifully 🙂 I’ll study the results more carefully later on, right now I’m going to have some more coffee and some waffles while I try to warm up!

Oh, here’s a nice tip… when you come in from the cold just leave your camera in the bag for a while. The camera is cold, the bag is cold and both will warm up slowly and safely. If you don’t expose the camera to the warm air right away there is a lot less chance of damage caused by condensation!

As always these images and more are available on my website in the “Sangre de Cristo Gallery” as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, and traditional framing and matting materials. #swkrullimaging pictures can also be purchased on a ton of cool gift, tech and household items such as t-shirts, gift cards, phone chargers, blankets, pillows and more!

 

Beautiful Powder

Had to wear snowshoes today in order to make it to the summit, life at almost 10,000 feet has it’s benefits! Besides the beautiful scenery the snow up here is much better, not like that sticky mess found at lower elevations 🙂 It was a tough climb though, I could hear my heart thumping in my ears… not too much though! Well anyway, when we crest the ridge and these mountains come into view all petty problems fade a bit for sure!

Sunrise and Storm Clouds on the Sangre

 

Diamonds in the Sky

It was cold  this morning, near zero I think but not cold enough to keep us from our hike on the high peaks of the Pike National Forest 🙂 Storm clouds were rolling in over the Sangre de Cristo Range but the sky was still a beautiful bright blue overhead. As Big Dog and I strode along through the high meadow I noticed that there were glittering

Diamonds in the Sky

snowflakes drifting down from the frozen sky. By this time we had gone around the summit past the amazing view of the Continental Divide and heading back east toward the rising sun. The snowflakes were glittering in the sunlight and it was like we were walking through diamond dust falling from the cold blue heavens.

We often experience that phenomenon up at this elevation. I guess this high we are actually in thin clouds sometimes and it is so cold that the moisture in the sky is literally frozen and falling out of the sky. If we were lower we would be looking up at a snow cloud but from here there is snow falling on a clear day. Well anyway, it was an amazing scene to see it in the morning light that way!

Gathering Storm on the Sangre

Also today I read a heartbreaking story called the Unnamed Foal. It was a story in my inbox about a foal that had died from shock in one of the cruel and violent BLM wild horse roundups. These beautiful creatures are literally dying from greed. Welfare ranchers in the west grazing their cattle on public land can’t stand the idea of sharing with a few of our wild horses collude with the government to have them rounded up and slaughtered. There is no excuse for it and it is just pure greed driving it. Please consider liking and giving to the American Wild Horse Campaign to try to save our wild horses. If someone doesn’t do something some day all of these magnificent creatures will be gone.

On a more positive note, our Yellowstone wolves hit the big time. High profile exposure on 60 Minutes in a segment called the Wolves of Yellowstone gives me hope that the good people of this country are finally catching on to the value of our wild animals! Doug Smith, researcher and spokesman for the park was asked if the wolves knew to stay in the park to which he explained that these wolves don’t know about hunters and they don’t know where the park boundaries are. Not a lot of people know that hunters wait just outside the park boundary for a wolf to step just a couple of feet over the line where they are then shot dead, robbing from thousands of park visitors the joy of seeing a famous and beloved animal forever. What is worse, the hunters often locate them with the very radio collar placed on them at great expense by the park researchers to study and preserve them. Please write to your congressmen to demand a buffer zone between the park and the selfish miscreants who seek to kill them.

As always, these photographs and more are for sale on my website as wall art and cool household and gift items.