Ten tips for a successful snowshoe hike in the Colorado high country

Little experiment here… I wrote all this good stuff for an online news agency called the Examiner a few years ago and suddenly without warning they went out of business and all my articles just disappeared 😦 Luckily I wrote most of them in open office and saved them. Today fresh snow and Facebook reminded me of a memory, namely the publishing of this article!

So today I’m working on transferring them to my phone where I can publish them on WordPress! Here’s one, what do you think?

Ten Snowshoe Tips

1. Choose your snowshoes
Step number one for an enjoyable outing in the cold Colorado Rocky Mountain winter is the correct choice of equipment. Different types of snowshoes are available for the variety of conditions that are encountered in mountain back country. If you are going to be hitting the remote rugged trails found high on the rocky ridges you will need a good set of back country snowshoes with both heel and toe claws. The snow has likely been melting and re-freezing for some time and there will be a lot of ice. The back claws are crucial to keeping your footing on the slippery slopes. If you are going to be encountering deep powder, larger snowshoes are better to limit the amount of sinking. Running snowshoes are available for endurance training if the trail is going to be well traveled and packed. Racing snowshoes are light and equipped with only a front claw.

2. Layer up
Conditions can change rapidly in the mountains and proper attire is paramount. An early morning start is going to be cold and until the heart is pumping warm windproof clothing is worth it's weight in gold. As the day wears on and the sun begins to shine some layers may need to come off to avoid overheating. Start with a close fitting hi-tech moisture wicking thermal layer, including socks and glove liners and a hat. Various weights are available to suit the outdoor temperatures you may encounter. Follow with windproof and waterproof pants and a wool sweater. Wool is better than cotton because it continues to provide warmth when wet. Choose a good pair of waterproof boots. Gortex light hikers are good for running and felt lined snow boots may be needed for sub-zero temperatures in the higher elevations.

3. Jacket with hood
Be sure to choose a jacket with a large hood that extends several inches away from the face. Winds in the high country can be fierce and the hood will protect your face. Snow is likely at any time in the high country so make sure your jacket is waterproof. Staying dry is the best way to avoid hypothermia. Lastly, don't forget warm waterproof gloves. Frostbitten fingers are the quickest path to misery on a snowshoe hike

4. Sunscreen and lip balm
The sun and wind in the high country can be brutal so be sure to wear a good SPF30 sunscreen and UV resistant lip balm. Chapped lips and a severe sunburn can ruin your day just as easily as frostbite.

5. Wear a backpack
A good water resistant backpack can be a life saver. Carry extra clothing, food, matches, flashlights, liquids and cell phones. Professional backpacks found at the mountaineering stores are equipped with extra waist and chest straps to reduce bouncing and distribute weight for greater comfort. Packs are also handy for toting the clothing that you will be removing as your body heat increases during the day.

6. Don't use external water holders
Don't use the external bottle holders if your backpack comes equipped with them. Water and ERG will freeze out there, so put the water bottles inside against your body. Body heat will keep them from freezing. Use the bottle holders for socks or something else you need to keep handy.

7. Fog proof your sunglasses
Sunglasses are essential in the high country. With little atmosphere to filter the sun, serious eye damage can occur from the bright sunlight reflecting from the snow. During a hard workout sunglasses will be sure to fog up so visit your nearest mountaineering store and purchase an anti fogging spray or liquid that will keep your vision clear all day. If you have plastic lenses make sure the substance does not contain ammonia.

8. Cooking spray on your boots and snowshoes
Nothing is worse while snowshoeing than a big ball of ice stuck in your claw and on the heel of your boot. Spray your boots with a cooking spray like Pam before you get started and keep some in your pack. The slick spray will keep the ice balls from forming.

9. Use cross country ski poles
Ski poles can be a lifesaver in the high country. They can help you keep your balance on treacherous ice covered trails and take some of the strain off of your legs on steep climbs.

10. Bring tire chains
The weather in the high country is unpredictable. What can start out as a beautiful sunny day can turn into a serious winter storm without warning. Tire chains can make the difference between an enjoyable day trip and a life threatening overnight camping ordeal.
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Turning Point

One of those memories from one year ago popped onto my Facebook today, it was a great memory of a great day, breakfast with my beloved cousin whom I hadn’t seen for too many years to even count. However the good part of that day was overshadowed by the memory of the rest of the day after I received a call from a friend who told me, “Steve, all hell has broken loose here.”, a terrible day in which several lives were irreparably altered, and not for the better. It was also the day that resulted in me having the two dogs that I wasn’t planning on or prepared for by any stretch of the imagination. However as you can imagine, these two beautiful doggies have worked their way into my heart and now they go with me everywhere. One riding shotgun in the passenger seat of my truck and the other standing on the console in the middle making sure there is nothing unusual lodged in my right ear or my mouth and nose πŸ™‚

I had to take a part time job unloading trucks to make ends meet and it is a job that is physically difficult for people 40 years my younger. Unfortunately a few months ago I sustained a serious injury from which I have not been able to recover and is getting worse. Each day at work is a new lesson in pain and fatigue and I am sure I’m not going to be able to endure it much longer. And Son Boy is starting to look so sad when I have to work, like he knows. I hate leaving them behind, hate taking time away from writing and photography. And I have been praying “Please God, don’t make me go back there…”, pleading and begging the Almighty to have mercy on me and my little family of fur babies.

On the upside, the economy must be turning around, my stock photography sales have been picking up substantially. After years of terrible sales I have actually made more selling than I have working in the last few days… and I think that too is a sign that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Also I had a vivid dream the other night of a house in the country… one of those dreams that you just have a feeling is significant, a sign even perhaps. And after a long time of feeling repulsed by writing and out of inspiration for my photography, ideas are starting to come to me and the words are once again flowing onto the page… Every storm has to end and my storm that has washed away a home, a wife to cancer, a family, a career and all my savings and plans for retirement and almost everything but my faith, has lasted a decade.Β  It is a storm that I am hoping will soon be on the other side of the turning point.

“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.” Psalm 107:29-30

The Dilemma

Just when I thought I had found the superhighway to the high peaks of the Ute Pass northern ridge, I find myself thwarted by a gate and a no trespassing sign 😦  I finally got an early enough start in the cool of the day to really take a run at that trail with the doggies. We were making good progress when all of a sudden I saw a fence… then a closed and locked gate followed by the totally rude sign 😦 I had no idea that someone owned that section of the Pike National Forest… How can you own a national forest anyway?

Storm clouds and snow on Pikes Peak Colorado

Storm clouds and snow on Pikes Peak Colorado

Well, back down we went… It was getting hot by the time we reached the bottom anyway. I did notice on the way down however, there is another trail leading southeast. I’m pretty sure it is the one that connects to some other trails that go all over the mountain, including up to Bald Mountain. But, that exploration will have to wait for another day.

Had a nice lunch with my friend while closely watching the temperature and the clouds. Landlord won’t let me leave the doggies at home, not that they would appreciate being home without me anyway.Β  Be that as it may… if it gets too hot I can’t leave them in the truck camper while I work. Even though it is well ventilated it still heats up in the sun when the temperature is over 79. Kind of amazing… 79 is borderline, but 80 or 81 is too hot. Well anyway, the dilemma… work too much and I get too tired to enjoy life and lose money at my photography and writing, work too little and I don’t have enough money to enjoy life or do my photography and writing. So whatta ya do…

Anyway, today it suddenly jumped to 89, a real rarity for the mountains and I can really feel the heat beating down on the roof and south window… Fortunately I had the foresight one summer to install a window air conditioner and I have it and the fan going full blast! And as a sign that the Almighty is watching down on me, I just noticed yesterday that I had made a good print sale to make up for today’s lost wages, a nice winter scene on Pikes Peak πŸ™‚ Reminds me of the Bible verse, “My God shall supply on my needs according to His riches in Glory.”.

 

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

God Wouldn’t

Every once in a while when I’m out hiking on the mountain the answer to some perplexing question will come to me and I feel compelled to write it down. Here’s something I’ve come across lately… the God Wouldn’t people. Was trying to put a finger on something I’ve been encountering lately. I was called upon to help someone through a tough time and some people I know aren’t too happy about it. God wouldn’t put you at risk they say. God wouldn’t ask you to do something that might cost you.

This doctrine is of course based on the idea of β€œGod wouldn’t allow more than you can bear.”, a patently false statement that is found nowhere in the Bible. There is a verse that is similar, the one that this idea comes from. It is 1 Corinthians 10:13:

β€œThere hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

So the verse pertains to sin and has nothing to do with what sort of challenges or suffering God will allow in our lives. Therefore I believe there are two kinds of people, the God Wouldn’t People and the God Would People. The God Wouldn’t people have a form of belief that looks good. They go to church on Sunday, proclaim their faith, sing hymns and generally put on a pretty good show.

But the God Would people understand that God would ask us to risk our possessions, our money, and for some even their lives. And the truth of it is, the higher up you are on the faith chain, the more likely it is that you will be thrown into the hard fights.

Psalm 34:19 : “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all” Β 

After all, would the commander of an army platoon send his weakest guy in to accomplish some life or death task that the whole platoon was depending on? Of course not. But the God Would people also understand true faith… the God who asks us to do the hard things will bring us through the hard things. If we have lost much in the battle He is well able to cover the loss. He might not, but He is able if it is His will.

Someday God might be up in Heaven looking down thinking about some battle he needs fought, some person who needs help or rescuing, thinking I wonder who I have who I can count on… who won’t run from the hard things, who is strong enough to win this fight? One of the God Wouldn’t People might get tapped to go, but they will say to themselves, β€œThis is too hard, God wouldn’t ask me to do this.”. And then finally, one of the God Would people will have to step up to fight the battle. Somebody has to do the hard things.

 

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.

No Unfriendlies at 14,000 feet

I think I’ve discovered an axiom, there are no unfriendly people at 14,000 feet of elevation. I’ve never encountered one anyway! Perhaps it is because life’s problems can’t survive the thin air there, they melt away when the summit comes into view.

Summit-HikersWell anyway, I have summit fever again this week and am preparing for the next adventure. Ralph and I will be attempting to summit Mount Harvard this weekend. This one might be a bit tougher than last week’s Mount Massive hike, with four more miles to cover on the round trip. I think Massive was Class I all the way, but 14ers.com is showing Harvard as Class II part of the way. I assume that means there will be a boulder field to tackle near the summit and that could slow us down a bit.

So today is payday and I don’t have to work until 5 p.m. this evening. A good day to get out and purchase supplies for the journey. I also saw some leather gloves with mesh backs in the sporting goods section that have my name on them. Tired of bashing up my fingers on the rocks at the summit. These should do nicely!

Stay tuned… as always the camera will be making the trip with me!

Back in the Groove

Wow, what a tumultuous summer… Certainly hasn’t turned out according to plan! Was not expecting my best photo agency to become my worst in a matter of a couple of months, and wasn’t expecting to have to be working a regular job to make ends meet. But here it is, almost August and I have done almost no photography or writing this summer. However I do seem to be getting used to the new reality and managed to go on a couple of hikes and take a few pictures in the last week or two.

Goat-PeekingBut much to my surprise, when I went to write my usual articles about the hikes and the new trails, I discovered that the news company I write for has been taken over by a new company and I am no longer a contributor there! Oh well.. easy come easy go. I never did like writing for somebody else… too many restrictions. I was also surprised to receive an email the other day from agent iStock / Getty saying that we will no longer be able to delete our own content. In the near future, permission will be required from admin to delete a picture. Earlier in the summer I had already rescinded my exclusive contributor contract with them in anticipation of expanding my sales base. However it was my plan to continue uploading the less special images to iStock. Now however, I think it unlikely that I will be contributing to iStock / Getty anymore at all. Never thought that would be the case.

So now I’mΒ  trying to get back in the groove… My writing will be done in this blog, with accounts of my adventures such as this one about our hike to the summit of Colorado’s second highest peak, Mount Massive πŸ™‚ I have already uploaded a few stock and print images of that hike to my new image websites, Alamy and Pixels.com. It has taken some getting used to and a little bit of adjustment, but I think I’m finally back in the groove πŸ™‚

Teach Us to Profit

Again today I awake early in the morning just as I did yesterday, stunned that it is possible to feel so terrible so early. It has been a long dry spell in the picture taking business, so many miles on the trail with so little to show for it. I have heard it said many times, “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” and I am starting to believe that! It seems to be getting harder and harder to get up that mountainside in search of elusive wildlife for the stock photography portfolio. Decided maybe it would help to start the day with a prayer and my morning prayer reminded me of one of my favorite Bible verses from the book of Isaiah, “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.“. Good words I thought.

Gloomy-PeakYesterday I could not face the climb, and I remembered the words of the great Ansel Adams, “Do not confuse hiking with photography, a picture from the road is as good as one you’ve hiked miles to get.”, or something close to that anyway. More good words of wisdom to live by, maybe I should find a less strenuous method of getting pictures once in a while to give these old bones a rest! It was weights day, so I wandered into the gym to complete that regular activity, hoping that I would find some inspiration afterwards.

Still nothing, but I had some time to kill before lunch and decided to stop in at the library and look at the latest “Outdoor Photographer” Mag to get caught up on the latest equipment andΒ  techniques, plus I enjoy sitting in the reading room and looking out at the awesome view of the big mountain available from there. The effects of an approaching storm were already enveloping the peak yesterday morning as snow and fog had begun to roll in. Nothing too earth shaking in the world of photography, the Canon 80D is out, but not significantly improved over the 70D I’m already shooting with, not enough anyway to get excited about purchasing a new camera.

So I wandered over to the book section to see if there were any new photography books, the photography section at the Woodland Park Library is woefully under stocked 😦 On my way out of the section I noticed the writing section, particularly the 2014 Writer’s Market Handbook. I’ve been an avid reader of the Photographer’s Handbook but I’ve never looked at the version for writers, so I thought, “Why not?”! The book is huge and I didn’t get a whole lot out of it, other than the realization that I am clearly not putting enough emphasis on profit from my writing. As of late, from my site statistics I have discovered that my writing receives way more attention than my picture posts do so it occurred to me that I need to put some thought to this matter and resolved to do so at the earliest possible convenience.

Well as it turned out, yesterday was an incredibly slow day and that opportunity presented itself in the afternoon. I have long been intrigued by a phrase I saw a while ago, “monetizing your blog”. Monetizing sounds good… I’m definitely in need of some monetizing.Β  So after some cursory research it became apparent that my “free” WordPress account was probably not going to be adequate so I took the major step I’ve been kicking around for awhile, which was to get a custom WordPress domain name and with it the capability of installing some income stream plugins, the first of which I applied for immediately.

So even though the old body is still feeling the effects of too many miles on the trail, I start out this day with new hope that one of my favorite passages in the Bible will be applied to my life and that yesterday was a day when “the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.“.