Magic morning … wow

Magic morning ... wow

There are some times when everything clicks and keeps on clicking, metaphorically and photographically speaking.   An important message for this morning is that things can only happen when you are out there, out there early, and ready to go with your gear. 

I decided this morning to head up to the Gore Range Overlook, hoping to capture some good, wide vista panoramic and large scenic images.  On my way to the overlook, I noticed a nice layering of mountain ridges to my right – east – where the early colors of morning were starting to show.  It reminded me of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the morning or evening, and I thought I would stop to photograph it.  Then I saw a large bull elk standing right there, silhouetted against that layering of ridges.  I spent some time with him and a second bull that came into view.  But, after a few minutes, I headed up to the overlook to capture first light.

Up at the overlook, I found Paul Rettberg from Chicago, whom I have mentioned previously here, already setting up his tripod and getting ready for the first light.  I was concerned we would not get good light, as there was a band of clouds to the east.  But, a little after sunrise, we did get some light, and I worked on capturing images of several ranges and ridge lines.  After the light was done, I decided to see what Rock Cut looked like at this time of the morning. 

On the way there, I found the two bull elk I had seen before sunrise, except now, they were split up, each on one side of the road.  I pulled over and worked both of them for a good while, with one posing perfectly with the mountains in the background – just a classic wildlife in the landscape shot.  After getting what we needed, Paul and I continued on to Rock Cut. 

Paul and I arrived to find several marmots scrambling around on the south side of the roadway.  Soon, three of them were up on the retaining wall adjacent to the roadway.  Then, two of them got excited about something and hopped off, back onto the tundra. 

We decided to walk up the trail for a bit, and soon found ourselves facing a group of four Rocky Mountain Bighorn Rams.  At first, we saw just three of them – two bedded down off to the side and one grazing right next to the trail.  Not wanting to get too close to the ram along the trail, we headed off trail about to do a wide circle around.  I also did not want to disturb the other photographer who was already working them, with what looked like a 500mm.  (I overheard from his conversations with other visitors that his name was Jason Crader, who has a website at  Other people visiting the area were not so considerate, and the ram eventually went away from the trail to be with the others.  The rams kept getting up, grazing, then bedding down.  Eventually, the fourth ram appeared, and the others stirred and went off farther away.  It was time to move on and see what else there was to find. 

I went up further to check out the side trail I had not yet followed, and found that it was a nice view of the nearby range with Long’s Peak in the background.  The light was no longer any good for landscapes, so I continued back down the trail.  Along the way, I spent some time with a  marmot that was scampering here in there, occasionally pausing to survey the landscape.  After a while, he heard a call off to the north and took off running in that direction. 

I was headed back to my car, and noticed that the rams were back.  I spent some more time with them, this time, with all four of them together.   After a while, something spooked them and they went over the back side of the hill, toward the road.  I did not see it happen, but I overheard from other visitors that they all hopped over the retaining wall and went down the slope.  I found a couple other marmots who were willing to pose for me, and spent some time with them before heading over to see if I could spot the rams. 

I found them a few hundred feet down the deep slope, photographing them to show both the alpine tundra where they were currently grazing and the subalpine forest way down below them at the bottom of the steep grade.  Then, they disappeared behind a rocky outcrop, so I figured it was really time to leave now.  The light was getting pretty harsh.  At 9:30, I had been shooting for four hours, filling up around 14 gigs of compact flash cards.  Wildlife will really get you snapping – always so much movement, activity, different compositions.  It was tough for me to narrow down to just thirteen images for this post, but I could not have posted all my favorites from this morning. 






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