Epic Collision

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Rams at the River

A beautiful autumn day in Colorado lured me to Waterton Canyon where I hoped that I would have the opportunity to photograph the bighorn sheep rams coming down to the river too cool off and maybe even practice their fighting skills in preparation for the upcoming rut season.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As always in Waterton Canyon, my trusty mountain bike would carry me upstream along the South Platte River to the best sheep viewing locations. As I rode along my eyes scanned the canyon walls for signs of action among the wildlife. I have only seen the bears one time, but I always hope for another sighting! On the way in I did encounter a hawk, but by the time I was ready to shoot he was long gone.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

Eventually I reached the upper dam where I have had good luck photographing them coming down the opposite bank. Sure enough, I spotted a big ram making his way out from the shady oasis on the cliff side where they seem to be residing lately. As I watched and waited more and more of their band began to emerge from the darkness of the shade under the pine trees growing right out of the rock. Then suddenly as if  the boss had put the word out, they all rushed down to the side of the river for a drink 🙂

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As they crowded into the lush grass on the embankment, they occasionally would clunk their heads together as they jockeyed for position along the beautiful south bank of the river. I was fortunate to be able to film a couple of the encounters, the collision of horns ringing out like a gunshot through the valley.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

The rams remained at water’s edge for about an hour and a half before heading back up the embankment towards their shady spot. I slowly rode back downstream, looking carefully for more sheep and other wildlife that I might encounter. Eventually I spotted a small herd of females and lambs peeking over the cliff on the north side of the canyon so I stopped for a few shots of that action. They eventually came down and joined a larger group that were just lying in the shade on this hot lazy autumn day.

Autumn Colors on the South Platte River

Finally the lighting was just too terrible for photography so headed for home where later in the day I got some nice fall foliage along another part of the South Platte.

For your enjoyment I have also created a nice five minute multimedia video for my YouTube channel, of the rams coming down to the river and occasionally banging heads as they prepare for the upcoming rut season ! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of my adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons more 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!

A Wild Weekend

A wild weekend indeed, starting with the Waterton Canyon bighorn sheep herd! Camera buddy Kevin and I arrived at the trailhead not too long after sunrise hoping to see the big rams somewhere along the riverside trail.

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A stiff chilly breeze was blowing down the canyon on the way up, enough for cold fingers and ears! Knowing that the window for seeing the animals is wide and unpredictable, we took our time on the ride up. Without seeing any sign of the beasties, we arrived at the picnic area just beyond the crossover bridge and decided to take a long break to rest up and wait for the rams to come down from the high peaks towering above the canyon.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Autumn

Eventually we decided to ride back down and wait by the old dam where the rams often come down for a drink of water from the river.  I imagine we whiled away another hour talking and visiting with hikers and other mountain bike riders. Finally when we were just about ready to give up we heard a holler from from another guy that was resting with us… he was pointing in the direction of the cliffs so we hopped on our bikes and headed over to see what was up!

And there they were, at least eight rams hanging around on the cliff side, snacking on the dry mountain grass and occasionally butting heads to practice up for the upcoming rut season. Eventually they meandered down to the river where we tried to reach the shoreline without bothering them too much and got a few shots of them getting a drink.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Autumn

Figuring the show was over for a few hours anyway, we decided to call it a day. however on the way down we ran into the ewe and youngster herd, and they also were on their way down for a drink. A nice bonus to round out an already great day 🙂 In addition to some fun still pictures, I managed to remember to shoot some video as well… I didn’t have my fluid head tripod along so my footage isn’t that great but I did put together a nice montage set to music for my YouTube channel. If you like, be sure to subscribe to my channel! I am still a few subscribers short of being able to get a custom URL for my channel!

Red-tailed Hawk

Another bonus for the wild weekend was a red-tailed hawk sighting this morning. I wasn’t prepared for a bird in flight picture when he took off, but with a 500th of a second shutter speed I managed to get a couple nice ones 🙂

Today will of course be spent processing and backing up hundreds of images. Perhaps if I get done soon enough maybe I’ll start getting my gear ready for our annual pilgrimage to Rocky Mountain National Park! I’m definitely going to have a list this year… Last year I forgot my sleeping bag and only had my winter parka to use as a blanket… Froze my butt off… almost literally!

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 channel  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!

Red-tailed Hawk

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 🙂

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 including  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!

The Perfect Rig

Photography Rig by the Pristine Waters of the South Platte River

I’ve been working for some time now to assemble the perfect rig for gaining access to the back country for landscape and wildlife photography. I don’t know whether it’s really the perfect rig or not, but it suits me perfectly and I was dying to try it all out together! I wanted the Tamrac Anvil 23 for it’s size and rugged construction, big and deep enough for all my gear and including a camera with battery grip and long lens. It also has straps on the center back strong enough to carry a heavy duty tripod comfortably. Then of course a carbon fiber tripod with a good video head, I decided upon the Manfrotto 502A for it’s rugged build plus it’s capability to operate effectively in the harsh Colorado winter. And of course the bike, which luckily I was able to find pre-owned and in like new condition, a Nishika Colorado 21 speed mountain bike with shock absorbers on the front forks 🙂

My idea was that Waterton Canyon was going to be considerably warmer and the best

Pristine Waters of the South Platte River in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Winter

place to try it all out! However the weatherman was forecasting a cold gloomy morning and I was pretty sure that the sheep were not going to come down 😦 I felt kind of guilty driving 100 miles just to go on a bike ride so I was going to back out, but I called my favorite camera store Englewood Camera, and they just happened to have a good deal on a 4 stop ND filter that I’ve been wanting so I thought what the heck… I’ll stop in at the camera store and maybe I’ll even be able to try it out on my favorite part of the river. Years ago back in the film days I had captured a great image of the river and I’ve tried repeatedly through the years without success to duplicate it with the awesome new technology at our disposal these days so that I could have it for sale on my stock portfolio!

It was still cold and gloomy in the canyon by the time I got there at about 10:00 a.m. so I bundled up and hoped for the best. Indeed I did not see a single bighorn sheep in my entire ride to the top of the dirt road. Modifications I

Pristine Waters of the South Platte River in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Winter

had recently made to my bike, including seat, hand grips and pedals proved worth the investment as I rode hard all the way to the turnaround without having to dismount a single time 🙂 On the way up I identified the very spot that I captured my favorite image so many years ago and on the way back down I stopped there for pictures and video. The other time was autumn so I knew I would not have the beautiful colors, but I have always wanted to try the image in winter as well. I spent a good amount of time there using wide angle and long lenses, the polarizer and a plain skylight filter. The water wasn’t flowing sufficiently to need the new ND, but I’ll try that out over at Eleven Mile pretty soon.

All in all I think I am satisfied with my winter images and I got a great workout on my mountain bike in the fresh mountain air of the Pike National Forest. As always these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, and traditional matting and framing! Also I have no sponsorship or compensation of any kind from any of these products. I have purchased them with my own funds because I found them most suitable to my needs.

Winter Day with the Bighorn

Alpenglow on the Sangre De Cristo

There is nothing I like more than spending a day with the Waterton  Canyon bighorn herd 🙂 The weather on my mountain was going to be cold and blustery but a nice sunny day was predicted for the Canyon and the decision on what to do and where to go was an easy one!

I got to the trailhead at about 9:30 a.m. which is usually a good start time. The parking lot was nearly empty so it wasn’t long before my pack was loaded, water bottle filled and mountain bike ready to go! My recent efforts at bike tuning appeared to be successful as I was comfortable in the newly adjusted saddle and that wretched squeak was gone! Turns out a slight alignment of the front brakes was all that was needed for my newly acquired peace and quiet 🙂

I soon passed the first of the favorite hangouts for the sheep with no sign of the herd.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

Recent reports from the Canyon positioned them about four miles into the ride so I pressed on. I passed the yellow house and then the big dam at the 3.1 mile point, still no sign. Soon though I noticed a pile of rubble in the road… a very good sign 🙂 The bighorn scrambling around the cliffs often result in a lot of rock in the road and today was no different.  A lone sheep stood in the road and a quick glance upward revealed a few more. A big ram was resting along the bank of the South Platte River and a group of ewes and yearling were foraging on the mountain grass in the cliffs of the northern cliffs.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

So I quietly put down my bike and pack and prepared for some photography.  This was going to be a good day to test out my new Manfrotto 502 tripod head 🙂 I snapped a few pictures and then attached the camera to the new fluid head and tried my hand at some motion picture recording. Though the new head was smooth and a pleasure to use, following the agile creatures is still a trick! I might add here that no one furnished me the 502, I purchased it on my own and there is no sponsorship from Manfrotto or anyone else for use of this head.

Soon the rest of the animals were on their way down to the road as some of them crossed

Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

over to the river for a morning drink. Then much to my surprise they came walking straight to me! I backed off a bit and they came to me again! Soon one of the game wardens admonished me to give them some space, at which time I told him I did but the sheep appear to want my company!

I imagine they milled around my location for about an hour and then began wandering down the road. My second goal for the day was to ride all the way to the top of the road to the start of the first single track segment of the Colorado Trail, the entire six miles to the turnaround point, something I haven’t done in a long time! There is a stretch of river up there that I have been wanting winter photographs for a number of years now. I have a nice fall shot there but have always wanted to see it in ice and snow!

As always these images are available for

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift, household and tech items are also available with one of my pictures, including coffee mugs, t-shirts, stationary, battery chargers, phone cases and much much more! you can also view collections on my website to enable simplified access to just the pictures that you are interested in!

Also please be sure to visit and subscribe to my YouTube site where you will find a short film set to inspiring music of this trek!

Some Christmas Sheep

According to the weather forecast today looked like an excellent day for a photo excursion to beautiful

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

Waterton Canyon for some bighorn sheep pictures. Snow last night and cold this morning threatened to put a damper on those plans but I managed to force myself out the door anyway, thinking the exercise would be a good idea before Christmas dinner!

Eventually photo buddy Kevin and I reached the parking lot and got out to prepare our bikes and gear for the ride up the dirt road along the pristine waters of the beautiful South Platte River on it’s journey out of the Rocky Mountains. It was here that we realized that the blue sky and sunshine were a little deceptive this day. There was a stiff wind blowing and any ideas of shelter in the canyon were soon dispelled by reality 😦 The canyon had become more of a wind tunnel than a shelter and it was a hard fight pedaling uphill against the stiff breeze.

No sheep at the primary sheep viewing location so we headed further into the canyon.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

No sheep at the second location either and conversation turned to what a great workout we were  getting in lieu of the awesome wildlife imagery that we had envisioned 😦 Past the yellow house we pedaled, and on past the big reservoir too… Finally along the last vestiges of cliff wall we spotted a lone ewe walking along the road, and then another. The pair were making their way up the road and soon hopped onto the cliffs in deep shade where the lighting was less than stellar. We took a few shots there, looking often towards the cliffs where they had come down from in the first place.

Finally, a few sheep appeared in the lovely morning light spilling onto the rugged cliffs along the north side

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

of the canyon, so we picked up our bikes and gear and meandered down towards the new action. Eventually some rams appeared high on the cliffs, out of range of our cameras… and unfortunately did not descend before we were out of time… being Christmas day and all 😦 But we got some pictures and it was indeed an awesome workout. Clearly I need to spend more  time on my bike and less time at the computer screen! On the upside, my new Tamrac Anvil 23 pack was a great success, holding all my gear with space to spare and so comfortable that I hardly noticed that I was wearing it on my back! Soon I will be using to pack my new video friendly tripod so that I can add some motion to my imagery and contribute to my YouTube site!

Ultimately I did manage to get a few images that I like so I hope you like them! A couple are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing!

Autumn Adventure with the Bighorns

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

Probably our most successful outing with the bighorn sheep of the season. It was a great start to the day… a short ride of only a couple miles and we were already seeing sheep, right where they have  been congregating at the mouth of beautiful Waterton Canyon. At the time of our arrival though there were just a small group of ewes, youngsters and one big ram hanging around on the not very picturesque mountainside so we decided to press ahead past the diversion dam to see if we might see the bear or maybe the bigger herd of battling rams.

We saw no more wildlife at all on the four mile ride to the crossover so we decided to

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

just turn around and head back to where we saw the small herd. unfortunately the turnaround greeted Kevin with a flat front tire and there was nothing to do but walk the three miles back down 😦

But the good news was, when we got back down to the sheep, that a couple more rams had joined the action and were jostling each other around a bit while also chasing around the ewes. Pictured in the video, one of the rams took quite a fancy to one of the girls and was chasing her all over the place. However, she wanted nothing to do with him and every time he got close she ran off. finally her patience was gone and she turned around to give him an unexpected blow between the eyes with her own horns… obviously she didn’t have the horns or the mass of a male, lol… but he did look pretty surprised for a little bit! After quite a few minutes of the chase she finally just laid down and put an end to it.

Eventually the entire herd decided to take a break and laid down in the shade of the big trees lining the bank of the South Platte River. We decided to do the same and I found a nice spot to sit on the other side of the jeep road. I wondered if we were done for the day but it was no more than a half hour before a few of the little ones were back up and meandering down the embankment for a drink at the river.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

The underbrush there was pretty thick and there did not appear to be a pathway to the river, but I knew if we didn’t get down to the riverbank we were going to have no opportunity at all for photography. I grabbed my trekking pole and picked my way down the steep riverbank to the thick vines at the bottom. As it turns out there was a faint trail at the base of a big cottonwood so I fought my way through.  And there they were, a little group of the youngsters and one ewe on the shoreline of the pristine river getting a drink. I picked a spot nearby, noticing that they were casting a wary look in my direction. I thought maybe if I just sat down a little distance away they might not perceive me as a threat and go back to their normal routine. It turned out to be a successful strategy and I was able to get some wonderful pictures with the beautiful blue water in the background. In the meantime a couple of ewes and little ones crossed over to try out the vegetation on the other side.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

There was a commotion on the other side of the river as a ram began chasing one of the girls around over there. Her evasion tactic was going to be a river crossing but the ram was not going to be deterred by a little water. He just chased her right into the river where we were waiting with our cameras at the ready 🙂 At first I wasn’t sure I liked my shot of this, but the drama of the event is growing on me and this image has become one of my favorites of the day.

Eventually the big ram became interested in the girls on the other side and he too

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

decided to cross, the moment I had been waiting for! As soon as I perceived that he was going to cross I quickly made my way down the embankment and through the thick brush. Much to my surprise the massive beast had come down another way at the same time and I found myself in an unnerving face to face encounter with a huge bighorn sheep ram! I had no desire for a head butting challenge with the great beast so I quickly backed away and told him I’d be going the other way! He kind of looked at me and then thankfully turned towards the water in another direction.

Here I got some nice video footage of a few more of the young ones standing with the grandfather of the herd along the water, and eventually some shots of him in the water as well. It was one of those moments, at the completion of it, when you just know. I got the shots I came for. We packed up our gear and headed for the truck. My guess is that with such low key tussling among the rams on this day that the rut season is winding down. Will probably take a break from the canyon next week and do something else… some snow shoeing maybe!

As always, these pictures and more are available for purchase on my image website as wall art, Christmas cards, t-shirts, blankets, pillows, tech gadgets and more! Also feel free to watch the youTube video!