Showing posts from January, 2018

Winter's Arrival - A Shocked Landscape

Winter's arrival After a month of unseasonably warm weather, a ferocious blizzard last Sunday proclaimed winter’s arrival. The snow fell as fast as the temperature dropped, coating the shocked landscape in sparkling crystals. A misty atmosphere shrouded the mountains in a palette of monochrome color. With the absence of light, aerial perspective was exaggerated as scattered pine trees seemed to recede and disappear into the distance. The morning after, clear skies sent bitterly cold air seeping into aching bones. Breaking trail through deep drifts while trudging through the frozen wilderness was an almost impossible endeavor. The worst part about being out during that frigid sunrise was the howling wind that unleashed a ruthless beatdown. A tremendous gale force was funneled down into the valley taking your breath away. Granules of powdered snow sprinkled across the meadow were shaped in writhing patterns that resembled the shifting sands of a great, white desert. Shar

Abundant Wildlife - A Mild Winter

Hooded Merganser at Crown Hill Lake On a warm, winter day at Crown Hill Park in Wheat Ridge, Colorado there was abundant wildlife to watch. The inconspicuous refuge is embedded into the outskirts of a bustling, urban corridor. Upon entering the preserve, a coyote was seen pouncing for voles in the wide swath of grassland that encircles the main lake. The stealthy predator was a beautiful canine that has adapted well to life in the big city. Out of the sky, a steady stream of Canada Geese made a noisy landing at the surface’s icy edge. Some of them slid into the open water where they floated freely while others stayed on shore and tucked their beaks into a wing, taking a quick nap. On that Saturday morning a strange looking bird was a surprise visitor that appeared suddenly onto the scene. I was lucky to observe a group of hooded mergansers, four males and one female, fishing in the frigid reservoir. Such striking birds, the males sported white crests that were fanned out i

Bergen Peak Summer - Watercolor

"Bergen Peak Summer" Watercolor It’s a warm, summer day in Evergreen, Colorado where Elk Meadow is dry and yellow. Weathered ranch structures provide contrast with the profusion of fresh wildflowers. The imposing Bergen Peak serves as a darkened background while low clouds drift across the shimmering, blue sky. At 9,200 feet, its lofty summit is a regional landmark. People don't describe this mountain as awe-inspiring but the views from the top are. Bergen doesn't attain the same status as a fourteener and some even dismiss it as just another foothill. The lovely crag is just down the street so I’ve spent lots of time on its steep slopes. Over the years I've learned not to underestimate the gentle giant because it can become quite surly. The easy accessibility and excellent trail system make this park a local hot spot. During the summer, the paths are flooded with hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders. The resilient mountain ta

Christmas Blizzard - A New Beginning

White Christmas at Bridgeport, Nebraska After a long spell of unseasonably warm weather, an unexpected snowstorm slammed into Bridgeport with a vengeance. Western Nebraska was transformed into a winter landscape of dark woodlands set against the white sandhills. During an expedition to document the blizzard’s dramatic effects, I was guided by a pack of friendly farm dogs. An Australian Shepherd and two Schnorgies plowed through eight inches of snow, blazing a trail along the banks of a winding, black creek. I followed them closely but I missed the shot when they flushed a flock of migrating mallards. Further on as we approached a particularly fine looking tree, a great-horned owl took flight and flapped quietly across the frozen prairie. Throughout the day, bitterly cold temperatures continued to drop and a band of heavy snow kept falling. From an overlook above the valley, the normally far-reaching views were condensed into a blur of powdered forest fused with the milky sky