Dust in the Wind

Tremendous wind howling up from the Arkansas River Valley last night. Big Dog was startled out of a sound sleep at 5:00 a.m., leaping to his feet and letting out a massive woof that woke up the entire town I think. I looked around with the flashlight and didn’t see anything so I was going to just go back to sleep, but instead got to thinking I would like to see the sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo. Sunrise would not be until 6:30 though, so there was time for one of my favorite activities… morning coffee 🙂

Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

The wind overnight had created a dust bowl out of the valley making the mountains barely visible, but it was still an inspiring sight when the alpenglow band settled down over the peaks. The effect was only good for a few minutes and we were headed back home for some more coffee.

The old 1970’s song by Kansas, “Dust in the Wind” was going through my mind as the wind whipped the dirt up into a veritable cloud around us. Got me to thinking about the truth of the song, “Everything is dust in the wind”. Everything in this life is truly temporary, jobs, houses, relationships… I was thinking back on my computer career realizing that all the software I had been paid to write is now gone, along with the very computers that it was meant to operate. Even the company I worked for is gone, like it was never there. The job seemed so important at the time, deadlines, overtime, status meetings to explain how it was all going to get done on time, weekends misspent at the office, and now that it is all gone it seems so silly to have been so stressed out, so stupid to have spent so much time away from family, to have lost so much sleep.

Even life itself is temporary. For some people, life is long and fulfilling. For others like my wife, life itself can be unexpectedly swept away far too soon. We never know when we are going to be struck down by illness, accidents or natural disaster. Cancer took my wife along with all the things she dreamed of, collected and worked so hard for. Everything we had together is now like the song, just dust in the wind. Her life itself is a faded memory in the minds of few, the fruit she and I measured our lives with now remembered by no one.

In the end it all comes down to the words spoken at the final judgement, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If we have lived our lives in friendship with Him we will never have to hear the bitter words, “Depart from Me, I do not know you.”, our legacy will live on in the afterlife and all we have done in this life will not be blown away forever, like dust in the wind.

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Rocky Mountain Winter

Got some good hiking in this morning, now working on staying ahead of the curve by getting some more winter pictures done. Have to say, these images of our Mount Elbert winter hike in January of 2016 have to be some of the most memorable shots I have ever taken.

It was a beautiful morning and we were climbing the east face of the mountain with the sun at our backs so the snow and the entire mountain was brightly lit. Those pictures were really nice, I got some good ones of the Mosquito mountains up by Leadville from the mountainside and a few of Twin Lakes far below us. We had a beautiful mountain jay following us part of the way, and then judging by the footprints we also had a mountain lion to contend with. But by that time we were above tree line and could see for miles all around with no lions in sight. Still, a bit unnerving but we forged ahead. We hoped the lion might be more interested in the bighorn sheep we could see far in the distance.Mount Elbert Summit in Winter

The hike was more difficult than we were hoping for, the 14ers.com guide said it would be snow packed all the way and all we would have to do is follow the micro spike tracks. But that turned out to be a bit of an optimistic view as it had snowed a bit the night before and a lot of wind had covered the tracks in some key places. We had a large clearing to cross and it was completely snow covered. We somehow found the trail under the snow and by poking our ski poles around we were mostly able to stay on the trail, but one wrong step and you were buried up to your waist in powder and it was very difficult and time consuming to get back out.

Summit Mount Elbert in WinterThen there were no less than three false summits, so early estimates on a summit time were way off and we were about to give up when all of a sudden we found ourselves on the summit. Very strange… we were just walking along wondering how much further the summit was going to be while discussing turning around and suddenly there was no more mountain in front of us. And it was the most amazing scene before us, nothing but snow covered mountains as far as the eye could see. By that time it was about 2:00 p.m. and the lighting was very strange… At 14,439 feet of elevation the late afternoon light was very bluish and hazy. And totally quiet except for the breeze blowing. I could have used Photoshop to take the blue out of the images, but when it comes to art I am a bit of a Realist and want my pictures to show what it was really like. The temperature wasn’t bad when we first arrived, but about 20 minutes later after we had enjoyed the summit experience for awhile it started getting cold, really cold! It had taken us about eight hours to summit and we only had three  hours to descend so we thought we had better skeedaddle! It took about an hour for the burning to subside in my fingers and toes from that last few minutes at 14,439 feet.Steve Krull at the summit of Mount Elbert Colorado in January 2015

The full collection of those images, at least all the ones I have done so far can be found in my Rocky Mountain Winter gallery. There are also tons of other images from snowshoe hikes in snowstorms, wildlife in the snow, blizzards and beautiful lighting on Pikes Peak in that gallery. The images can be purchased as glossy wall art on metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional framed prints, and as gift items including coffee mugs, phone cases, greeting cards, t-shirts, household items, lifestyle gifts and more. Commercial stock versions of the art can be purchased by clicking here for 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

Winter 2016

Winter is flying by and spring is nearly upon us! The holiday weeks passed by so excruciatingly slowly that I was dreading the “dead of winter” weeks and months with their extreme cold and long boring hours of darkness. But thankfully it has been an eventful and rewarding two months, starting with a discussion with one of my church buddies about climbing a 14er. He said, “the trailheads don’t look good for a winter ascent.”. I thought, hmmm… although Elbert is the highest peak in Colorado, it has a fairly approachable trailhead and although steep, it is very climbable so I said “What about Elbert?”. I saw the gleam in his eye and knew immediately that we were going to do it. Got the call from Ralph and we had a good weather window, so the trip was planned. Friday, January 22nd was the day and we were off for Mount Elbert at 5:30 a.m.

Summit-HikerIt turned out to be a beautiful day and a successful climb. We encountered a couple of obstacles on the way up, including an unmarked snowfield that I didn’t think we were going to be able to cross. But using my ski poles I was able to feel the packed trail under the windswept snowfield and we eventually made it across. Near the summit the trail was also not marked and we became somewhat discouraged as we discovered not one, but three false summits along the insanely steep approach to the top. We made summit right at about 2 p.m., just as we were starting to think we would never make it. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when we got there, but it wasn’t long before the wind kicked up and made a summit rest a short lived idea. Back down we went. On the way down we discovered that we had taken the long way up and were relieved to avoid the path right past the 2,000 foot deep cirque and the steep icy non-trail back down. The hike back down seemed to go on forever, but we finally made it to the truck at about 5:30, just as it was starting to get dark.

I thought we would have some time off from such difficult adventures, but as a snowstorm was forecast to dump deep snow on the mountains, it seemed like a good idea to try to bag the west face route up Pikes Peak.  Saturday, January 30th was the day before the storm, so we hit the trail early in hopes of getting up and down before the weather began to change. One wrong turn took us a mile the wrong direction, but we felt we were still making good time so we continued the trek to the summit. Once again, the trail was covered with snow and the tracks from previous hikers led us straight up the treacherously slippery side of the western access. Finally we made the top of the ridge and the peak and summit house came into view. 50mph winds at our backs were not enough to convince us to cancel the attempt at the summit, but we were discussing the idea of going down the other side on the Barr Trail to avoid the ice and wind. We spotted a rock wall and decided to make that quarter of a mile or so and take a lunch break. However just as we got our packs off and started our break we were suddenly knocked over by a hurricane wind which was blowing snow up the mountain and probably a thousand feet in into the air. What was a bearable temperature suddenly became unbearable as the wind driven snow felt like gravel on our faces. The wind was blowing snow so hard it was going between my glasses and my face causing ice to build up on the lenses so I was barely able to see. I could see Ralph’s face was beet red from the pummeling it was taking from the wind driven ice. I wandered around a bit trying to see if I could find the trail we had taken, but could not. I said to Ralph, we have to get off this ridge now, but I can’t see where we came from! And we knew there would be no time to get out the GPS… we had to move. Ralph had done that route before and spotted a rock pile that was on the way. We quickly agreed and ran towards the pile. Soon we recognized the tundra slope we had come up and began running down. Just as it had been so many other times on the big mountain, just getting a few feet down from the summit was enough to make all the difference. We were laughing on the way down that God had tried to warn us away with the 50mph winds, and when we weren’t deterred the Almighty blast was hurled at us as if He was saying “Get off My mountain NOW!”. The winds quickly scaled back to the previous 50 mph or so and it was considerably warmer. By the time we got to the parking lot it was 50 degrees and the snow was melting furiously. It would not be so the next day though, as the biggest winter snow yet enveloped the Pikes Peak Region.

InclineFebruary also brought some adventure to my life with two winter climbs on the Manitou Incline an one summit of Bald Mountain on snowshoes. 50 degree weather has replaced the frigid start to the winter and spring feels tantalizingly close. I have stepped up my daily workouts at the gym and on the Pike National Forest Trails as plans are being made for spring and summer summits. 2015 was an awesome year with hikes in Cheyenne Canyon, Red Rock Canyon, Red Mountain and the Intemann Trail still fresh in my mind… but 2016 is shaping up to be one of my best years yet! I am hoping for that and a good spring and summer for my friends and fans as well 🙂