Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Sunrise from Handies Peak - July, 2020

Colorado 14er Handies Peak with American Peak in the San Juan Mountain Range
Sunrise from Colorado 14er Handies Peak - Prints available

This weekend, was kind of a cool 14er reunion for James, Brad and I.  The three of us used to hike 14ers together often when we were in our 20's.  So it was cool to catch up and relive a little of those experiences.  Jimmy and Lindsey joined us this time for a hike in the dark to catch the sunrise from the top.  We started at 2AM on the trail.  Yes... waking up is the hardest part.  In the dark, we lost the trail a couple times near Sloan Lake and had to backtrack using our GPS, but had just enough time to reach the ideal height to see the show.  The sunrise was cloudless, but the sky turned all colorful.  We were wondering if we'd be able to see the NEOWISE comet, but I think it was on the horizon behind the mountains while we were on our way up.

Mt. Sneffels in the distance

The Vermilion Group in the distance

Half Peak left of center (I think)

Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn

Surprisingly, there were a few other parties up there for the sunrise.  I suppose even the more remote 14ers are gaining popularity.  The hike down was leisurely and we got to "frolic" in the wildflowers which American Basin is known for.  The flowers weren't as lush this year as I've seen in the past, but still good. 

Sloan Lake

Jimmy decided that he's not a fan of heights on this hike, especially as we drove along the shelf road with hoards of 4-wheelers passing us along the way.  We stopped in Lake City for the best burger ever at the American Elk Grill and Inn before our long drive back home.  It was a lot of driving and hiking and not a lot of sleeping.  Man, that seemed like it was a lot easier on your body a decade ago. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Lost Twin Lakes, Bighorn Mountains - July, 2020

We spent a week in Wyoming at Nathan and Kameryn's place which sits on a foresty hill.  Wow! They have built a beautiful house in a beautiful place!  All the in-laws joined us up there with all the kids which was chaotic... and... fun.  On the weekend, we went backpacking into the Bighorns for one night to Lost Twin Lakes from the Tensleep trailhead.  It was a moderate hike, though it kicked our butts cause we're getting old.  The fishing was really good, the veiws were good, and we saw some bull moose on the way out.  It was also nice to get to know Nathan and Kameryn a little better.

Spotlight hits the peaks in the Bighorn Mountains Wyoming at sunset
Sunset - Lost Twin Lakes - Prints available

Bighorn Mountains with twin waterfalls in the Bighorn Mountains Wyoming
Lost Twin Waterfalls :)

Sunrise at Lost Twin Lakes in the Bighorn Mountains Wyoming
Sunrise - Lost Twin Lakes - Prints available

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Shoshoni Peak - July, 2020

Shoshoni Peak Summit Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

Before heading to Wyoming, we got to get out and do a quick hike of Shoshoni peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  This is such a cool place with awesome scenery so close to home.  The Brainard Lake Area was only allowing a certain number of vehicles into the parking lot to mitigate impact of COVID so we made sure to get there super early.  This was Tootsie's first mountain and she did great.  By the time we got back to the car, she was pretty spent.

Sunrise at Long Lake Indian Peaks Wilderness
Sunrise at Long Lake

Apache and Navajo from the Summit of Shoshoni - Prints available

Friday, June 19, 2020

Hiking Sky Pond, RMNP - June, 2020

Rocky Mountain National Park Sky Pond Panorama Prints Photography panoramic
Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park - Prints available

This past weekend we did a "warm up" hike to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park.  This has got to be one of the best hikes in the whole Estes Park area.  The lake sits at the base of rugged spires known as the Sharkstooth and 13,000 ft. Taylor Peak.  In early June, there was plenty of snow to cross with an exciting scramble up a waterfall to reach this high glacial lake.  Marmots and other critters weren't afraid of people up here. One even walked right up to our feet!  A good day with great friends and a "manhandler" at Smokin' Daves for lunch is always a worthy prize for such a workout.

The Loch

Lake of Glass

The Sharkstooth

...And here's a relaxing set of video clips from the hike:

Monday, June 8, 2020

Backpacking Boulder Lake with the Kids - June 2020

The Coronavirus has kept us all home for months.  National Parks are beginning to open and outdoor recreation is considered a good social distancing activity. We chose a more secluded area in the Eagle's Nest Wilderness to take the kids on their first backpacking trip.  The route was 3 miles one way and 1,500 ft. of elevation gain with lots of ups and downs along the way.  We had doubts on how the kids would do especially Kolby with his little almost 4 year old legs.  Well...the two of them were troopers!  We just had to keep playing games and taking snack breaks to keep them entertained.  They made it all the way to the lake and I didn't even have to carry them (much). By the way, sunrise at the lake was stunning!

Boulder Lake Black and White

Boulder Lake Sunrise - Vertical

Sunrise in the Eagle's Nest Wilderness Silverthorne Colorado Gore Range Boulder Lake lakes
Sunrise at Boulder Lake - Prints Available

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Painting - Rocky Mountain Bull Elk

Acrylic Painting of a bull elk in the rocky mountains colorado montana idaho utah wyoming

This is my latest painting of an autumn landscape with a big bull elk bugling.  It represents what I view as a classic Colorado fall scene.  The elk reference I used in this picture was taken from a photograph I took years ago in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The autumn landscape was taken near the Silverthorne/Vail area on a fall colors photography trip, while the sagebrush in the foreground was taken from yet another photograph.  Putting all these images together in a rough composite allowed me to tweak the composition exactly the way I wanted it.  I then adjusted the lighting so they fit together.  Artist license... it's allowed!

Elk reference photo

Inpiration background photo

Photoshopped reference photo

 Recently, I have been working on my technique with the goal to paint faster without sacrificing quality.  I try to use a larger brush for much of the piece to fill in sections faster giving the illusion of texture and detail, especially in the background.  Another thing that I'm learning is that using a solid reference photograph goes a long way toward creating that realistic, engaging image.  It's fun to compare images from the past to see how you've grown as an artist.  Below is a similar painting I completed when I was in college 15 years ago.  Side by side with this current one, you can see a lot of technical improvements:

15 years ago

Last, here's a complete time-lapse video of the entire painting process: