Break in the Weather

Fortunately for me the weather forecast for this morning was wildly inaccurate. It was

Foggy Sangre de Cristo Mountain Valley

supposed to be 4 degrees and snowing so my popplans were to just sit on the couch like a vegetable and drink coffee ๐Ÿ™‚ I was getting a pretty good start on just exactly that when Big Dog came wandering in from the bedroom asking for his morning constitutional… So on went the coat, gloves, hat and thermal underwear and out into the elements we went!

Frosty Aspen Trees

I had looked out the window earlier and could not see the mountains for the clouds and mist so I didn’t bother to bring the camera, we just walked down the street to the open space. But as we got a bit closer to the saddle I could see that it wasn’t just clouds I was viewing! Filling the Arkansas River Valley was a beautiful layer of fog which I knew was going to need some closer examination! So I hurried Big Dog along and loaded him into the truck while I ran in and got the camera.

And off we went to snowshoe trailhead for a better view of the Sangre de Cristo and the Arkansas Valley from the summit of Little Grouse. And it was so well worth the trip. First of all the snow and fog had left behind a beautiful coating on the aspen grove at the bottom of the hill which I deemed worth a couple of captures and I thought the bright blue Colorado sky was amazing!

Then from the summit the view was stunning. The mountains in the background were just beautiful as they jutted above the fog in the valley below, and there were a couple of the smaller peaks that were just peeking through the fog in the lower valley. And as with the aspen trees, the dense pine wilderness of the Pike National Forest was also sporting a new mantle of white from the fog and snow.

These images are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas as well as traditional matting and framing.

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The Sunny Side Trail

Sunnyside Trail

Been slightly interested for some time now in a trail I hadn’t yet explored… but not really interested enough to actually follow it. Today was the same, thought about it but decided to climb to the summit instead, hoping for the occasional elk or deer sighting in the high meadow. However as we got a few yards down the trail, Big Dog and I were met by a sweet looking free range cow followed closely by another one. Big Dog is pretty curious about cows and I knew it would be an ordeal to get past them but we pressed on anyway. Until of course we encountered the bull. Now I’m pretty sure he’s a friendly bull and Big Dog really wanted to meet him but I was thinking otherwise. So we stood still a second to see if maybe Mr. Bull would like to get off the trail and let us by, but soon he was striding toward us so the big dog and I hightailed it for the trailhead gate. I’m sure he was a friendly bull but you don’t want to wait until it’s too late to find out otherwise! And as you can see, Mr. Bull followed us all the way to the gate!

Free Range Bull

So with no way past Mr. Bull on my usual trail, the decision was made to try the Sunny Side Trail. It’s an easy trail that doesn’t particularly go anywhere interesting, but there were some nice views of the Sangre and Big Grouse Mountain from a couple of the overlook points. Also I have been noticing a curious aspect of my views of the Sangre de Cristo Range lately. From a point on the way to my overlooks the mountain range looks huge, then from the overlook it doesn’t look quite as huge. So on one of my trips over to Victor I watched the mountain range carefully and I noticed that there are two parts to it. There is a section of higher mountains to the south, a notch thingy in the middle and then a smaller section of mountains to the north side of the range. Unfortunately from all my favorite overlooks the big side of the range is blocked by the mountains surrounding me. The place where I can see the big ones is a crappy view with houses and power lines, not worth trying to get a picture.

Mystical Sangre de CristoThe good news is that from the Sunny Side Trail there is an awesome view past the east side of the Big Grouse Mountain and down to the big half of the mountain range. So on this day I was finally able to finally get a decent shot of the bigger Sangre de Cristo peaks :) However I still need to get down to Westcliffe for a closer look!

Today however I’m just really tired and seem to be more tired every day. Think maybe until the New Year turns over I will spend some time at the computer screen. There is no point uploading prints at this point with Christmas so close. However once the new year begins there will be a wave of stock image buying and I can use this time to get caught up on my uploads there. It’s been a long time since I really put any effort into Alamy, my highest paying stock agency but they have recently been making a push to add some photographer friendly features that I have been really enjoying the last few weeks. For example they have created this awesome portfolio page that we can customize and use for promotion ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of my oldest images are in this agency which is not necessarily a profitable thing, but it is kind of fun to go back and see the origins of my stock photo business!

I know everyone has already blown their budget on Christmas but just in case, these images and more are now for sale as wall art and cool gift and household items on my website! If you like these images and are a fan of mountains and wildlife, please give it a look! Also I have recently created a new gallery called “Deer in Snow” which I have made quite a bit of progress with lately.

The Knoll

Got a bit of a late start today, just could not drag myself out of bed. But it would not have mattered anyway, there is so much mist from all the rain that I can barely see the peak from here. Was kind of hoping I would see some wildlife on the drive through the forest on the way to the trailheadย  where I walk the doggies, but no such luck. Sometimes the wildlife look kind of magical in the mist but they were nowhere to be found today.

Misty Pikes Peak

Heavy mist on Pikes Peak

So I didn’t even bother to bring my real camera along on the trail, even if I saw something the doggies would not let me get a decent shot… So you might say, don’t take them along! Lol… Besides the cute furry critters in the woods there are some not so cute ones! We have bears and mountain lions roaming that forest and I like the advance warning I get from my friends with super powers when it comes to hearing and smelling ๐Ÿ™‚ So I just took my phone camera and snapped a couple of scenery along the way.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers on the way to the knoll

I have been eyeing this knoll for a while now. There isn’t a real trail leading up to the top of it but the underbrush looked pretty easy to navigate. So today I had the time, the sleep the night before, the energy and the right day and I decided to climb the thing. A bit anticlimactic though, I couldn’t really see anything from there, and when you look at it in a picture it doesn’t look like much. But it is actually quite steep and maybe a couple hundred foot climb.

What the heck, the box in the sky for climbing that one is checked, the wildflowers were pretty along the way and the exercise was great for the doggies who are now snoozing happily on the bed ๐Ÿ™‚ As we were coming back down the trail it was getting pretty hot and I was thinking of places I might go afterwards to beat the heat but just as we got back to the trailhead a thunderstorm started to roll in and the temperature dropped rapidly. Made it home just in time to avoid getting wet ๐Ÿ™‚

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

 

Magical Morning

This morning began like any other… coffee, toast and an early start with the doggies for our hike in the woods. A magical mist filled the cool air this morning and the amazing green foliage seemed more lush than ever. The doggies even seemed to notice and were having a blast licking the water off the leaves of the underbrush. Wasn’t hiking for the exercise or for any kind of training benefit this morning, so we just took it easy, slowly climbing ever higher on the switchbacks, enjoying the plant life and water droplets along the way. Near the top of the trail I experienced a slightly rude setback as one of the rocks on the trail was loose from all the rain and I slipped as it rolled out from under me, slamming my kneecap onto another rock ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Lol… after a while the pain subsided and we started to make our way back down.

Pikes Peak SunriseAs I looked off toward the peak I noticed that an amazing cloudy misty fog had rolled in over parts of the north face of the mountain, creating a beautiful sunrise scene. The light of the morning sun was somewhat obscured by the clouds and the colors of the mountain and blue sky were subdued, almost watercolor like… It was amazing and I spent quite a long time photographing the changing scene as the clouds meandered across the north face.

Doe & Fawn Mule DeerFinally as we neared the bottom of the trail and the forest opened up, I noticed a doe mule deer staring at me. I hoped I could get one of her before the dogs noticed her or she got nervous about the camera… I successfully got focused and steadied and fired off a couple of snaps and then noticed the brush moving… The doe had a fawn and she had getting close to mama in mind! I quick focused on the fawn and started shooting in rapid succession as the doe and fawn grew closer. Finally it was over and mama led the baby away to safety.

Such a beautiful scene, appropriate that God would be painting on a Sunday. I thanked Him for the grace and beauty He had shown to me this weekend and headed for home.

These prints and more will soon be available for purchase on my website including glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas and traditional framed and matted styles. Gift items and novelties are also available, including, coffee mugs, t-shirts, shower curtains, greeting cards and more. Commercial stock versions of the images can be obtained from the image licensing portal.

 

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

The Clearing

Continued my exploration of the new trailhead and trail system that I have been working for the last couple of weeks. After encountering “the gate” I had to branch out in a new direction and the cool cloudy morning we are having seemed just the day to do that. So early this morning the puppies and me forged ahead further than before, hoping to find a route up to the top of the ridge and maybe yet another view of the majestic mountain across valley.

Sunset on Pikes Peak

Beautiful summer sunset on Pikes Peak Colorado

By then little old Kitsu looked like she was getting tired so I decided we would just keep going back to the beginning. Just as we were getting ready to head back up the switchbacks I noticed a car driving in the woods! I watched to see what it was going to do when I figured out where exactly we were, at another trailhead parking area that I have used before.ย  It is also the place I came down to the time I descended the back side of Bald Mountain, and swore I would never hike again, incredibly steep there! Well anyway, I know where I am there and from my new trailhead I am happy to discover that I can go anywhere on the entire ridge from there, from inside Woodland Park all the way to Rampart Reservoir if I wanted!

Black-Bears-4I wonder how many miles and how many hours I have spent hiking that trail system? I have hiked it in summer, winter, fall, rain, snow and near darkness. I have seen deer, elk, bear, coyote, bobcat and all kinds of birds including eagles and hawks. The trails and the forest on this little patch of the Pike National Forest have been an amazing source of peace for me for almost a decade now, I feel so fortunate to live so close to such solitude. Countless pictures I have taken along the way, many of which can be viewed in my Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak fine art imageย  gallery. The commercial stock version of those images can be found by clicking here. Many more can be found in my wildlife gallery.

Definitely looking forward to many more miles of trail, changing seasons and abundant wildlife on this ridge now made accessible by my new favorite trailhead ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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

Wings of Eagles

After the possibilities I discovered yesterday in my new trails paradise I was a bit more eager to get in the truck and get back up there today. I didn’t realize how hiking the same exact trail every day for eight years had become complete drudgery. I never even liked that part of the trail, the scrub oak growing everywhere is just plain ugly, especially in the winter when it is just a maze of sticks to ruin every picture that I take there.

Paradise Peak FXThe new trails are beautiful, they remind me of pictures I’ve seen of the rain forests of the Northwest. Beautiful pine trees standing over rocks and a beautiful forest floor of pine needles and naturally growing junipers. The steep trails on the south face of the Ute Pass Valley are heavily shaded and filled with the pungent smell of pine.

Today we climbed higher than yesterday… There are quite a few forest trails and deer trails going everywhere up there and I need to make sure I get used to them from both directions before going too far at one time. Not that it is really possible to get really lost there, but a wrong turn on the way down could cost a long hike through town back to the trailhead, something I’m sure neither me nor the doggies would appreciate. So today we actually made it to the end of the deer trail and onto some sort of main trail that looks like it could go for miles… I am eager to discover where it leads.

Near the top of our ascent today there was a clearing and a magnificent view of the morning sun cascading onto 14,115 foot Pikes Peak. As we stopped to take in the view from up there I was actually happy for a bit that my nemesis that has been harassing me on the old trail forced me to expand my horizons. As I mentioned earlier, I was sick of the old ugly trail to nowhere and the new one is a hikers paradise.

Which also brought to mind a story that I heard a long time ago… The story is about eagles, how when they are flying low they are often harassed by the small birds, blackbirds and crows and such. But the eagles with their great power and majesty do not bother with the lesser birds, they just soar ever higher until they arise to heights their pesky adversaries cannot attain. So it is in life, as I stood there high above the town and my nemesis looking at the lofty peak across the valley I realized that I had taken the right approach… stop bothering with my pesky adversaries and soar higher, so high that they cannot even find me, much less hang around and bother 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

Rough Start

Wasn’t sure I was going to make it out this morning… I don’t know, maybe it’s the damp weather, or maybe just too many hours on the loading docks this week, but when I awoke this morning it felt like a bomb had exploded inside my body. Got up, turned on the coffee pot and just sat here hoping for the pain to subside. Three different times I have broken my coffee drinking hand and it was really slow to come around but finally I was able to hold the coffee mug. The hot ceramic felt good in the palm of my hand as I tried to decide whether I wanted to face the day…

Finally the dogs started to grumble and I knew there was no possibility of going back to bed. Thought about just taking a slow walk up through the forest gate and up the road, but definitely was not in the mood to try to get past the troll. As I started moving around trying to feed the cats and get dressed, the pain in the rest of my battered temple began to reside and I decided on a trailhead to Bald Mountain that the troll doesn’t know about and probably could not get to on her best day. Would love to see the old crank try to negotiate the barbed wire fence…

Bald Morning 3The doggies were so excited about the new trail and the new smells that it was worth it just to see how much fun they were having! The beauty of the unhindered view of Pikes Peak, the fresh air at 10,000 feet and the utter solitude of being in a place that few others are even aware of also aided my mood on such a wonderful day to not have to go to work. Sadly the wildflowers are once again a mess this week so I didn’t bother to shoot with my DSLR, but I did snap a few of the scenery with my smart phone.Bald Morning 2

A couple hours of fresh air and both me and the doggies were tired and ready to head home. Thought about stopping at Bierwerks for lunch, but as we drove by I noticed that the place was quite populated with families with their children and after a week of enduring the din of screaming kids at Walmart I just could not face it. Maybe it just me, but I wish there was still someplace for adults to go… Used to be coffee shops and bars were pretty reliable sanctuaries, but no more.

Picked up a few supplies, ate some lunch and now listening to the rumble of an approaching thunderstorm. Pretty quiet at home today save for the snoring of the cats and dogs. I think it is going to be a peaceful afternoon for a nap. Maybe I will get an idea for a real adventure tomorrow, more sleep tonight will get me on the road much earlier in the morning, in time to beat the traffic and catch the beauty of the morning light cascading onto the beautiful Colorado Rockies… somewhere.

 

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