A Cold Creek Photo Shoot

A well framed photo of FisherDad seeking to catch “just one trout” from atop the dam that holds back the Cold Creek trout pond. The snow on Willow Peak in the background provided an interesting contrast (Willow is just under 10,000 feet tall). The burn area on its northeast face enhances the snow’s visibility. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)

One of the hobbies my sister-in-law Yvette enjoys is photography. She is quite skilled at it and is regularly active in a camera club. It seems to me that her interest in outdoor photography has expanded in her retirement years. She has participated in several camera trips to some of North America’s most remarkable national parks like Everglades, Acadia, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Banff (Canada).

Recently it seems her outdoor photography is focusing on wildlife. Similar to my house, Yvette has created an avian environment in her backyard that affords many opportunities to photograph a wide variety of birds. After reading my recent Cold Creek blog posts that featured photos of wild horses and Rocky Mountain elk, she wanted to know how to get to Cold Creek and where to find these large animals once she got there.

I offered to be her Cold Creek guide on this initial visit, and my daughter was excited to join us on the excursion. I reminded Yvette that wildlife does not care to cooperate with photographers. All we can do is put ourselves in places where we are likely to encounter them and hope for the best. How could I know that this day would provide a bounty of opportunities?

A word of caution about wild animals. It should be obvious that predators like bears, mountain lions, coyotes, and bobcats can be extremely dangerous. But wild horses do not always act wild, especially those around the town of Cold Creek. But people do get bit and kicked while trying to feed them, and they do not realize that feeding the horses and burros from their vehicles often results in traffic accidents. Yvette used a long telephoto lens on her camera so that wildlife would appear closer in the photo than they were. Always maintain a respectful and safe distance. Read the National Park Service guidelines if you need more information about protecting yourself and the wildlife.

Enjoy Yvette’s photos. We were truly blessed to witness so much wildlife on this wonderful trip to Cold Creek.

Wild Horses

This photo gives a surprising perspective of the village of Cold Creek. I believe the Tobiano Pinto stallion is the leader of this small herd, but I may be wrong. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)

As soon as we arrived at the Cold Creek pond, a mare and her foal passed right by us. Yvette gave me permission to fish the pond, which I accepted on the condition that I would only cast my Sweetgrass bamboo fly rod until I caught my first trout. Thankfully, that did not take too long. As soon as I released that trout, I turned back to see where Yvette and my daughter had wandered, finding they followed the mare and foal down the slope about a half mile toward a small herd of wild horses.

The Wheeler Pass Herd Management Area (HMA) is but one of 83 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) HMAs in Nevada. Wheeler Pass is more commonly known as Cold Creek. The Wheeler Pass HMA is about 276,000 acres, and their “target” population numbers are 47-66 wild horses and 20-35 wild burros. The BLM controls herd population through the use of birth control and “gathers” that remove excess animals from the HMA.

This Tobiano Pinto stallion has been around Cold Creek for at least two decades. I first photographed him in 2002 when I took my brother Neal to fish the pond with me. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
Here is the same Pinto stallion, but also notice the bird in flight that Yvette captured in this photo. I believe the bird is a Pinyon jay, but I am not certain. Perhaps someone can confirm or correct my identification. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
The handsome stallion standing his ground over the herd. The snow-covered Sheep Mountains of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge are visible in the distance to the left of his loins. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
I always suspected that the Tobias Pinto was a stallion, and this photo provides the “conclusive evidence.” (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
A wild and healthy Dark Bay horse. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
This is not the stallion. It is the Pinto mare and her foal that passed by as we were getting out of my Fish Taco truck. So, not all wild horses in the Wheeler Pass HMA are sterilized. Yay for the Pinto stallion! (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
An action photo of the Pinto mare shaking her head. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
These wild horses, backdropped by the snowy Wheeler Pass, seemed to be tiring of our attention and began to lead their small herd to another location. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
Some Yvette humor on this photo, bringing us to “The End” of the wild horse photos. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)

Rocky Mountain Elk

Rocky Mountain elk were originally transplanted into the Spring Mountain Range in 1935, according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and a June 7, 2018 Facebook post by the Nevada Department of Wildlife. They report that an additional 80 Rocky Mountain elk from Woodruff, Utah were released at three locations in the Spring Mountains in February 1984 (forty years ago).

The Rocky Mountain elk were almost as easy to locate as the horses. This photo documents that there were at least 14 elk in this herd. It is difficult to miss a herd this size. We initially spotted them working their way down from the Cold Creek village. They were feeding along the irrigation ditch that diverts some water from Cold Creek to create the ponds. (Photo by FisherDad.)
A subset of the Rocky Mountain elk herd browsing amongst some Single Leaf Pinyon, Utah Juniper, and Mountain Mahogany trees. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
This elk seems to have a few tufts of hair missing from its coat. Notice another elk in the background to the right of the Mountain Mahogany tree. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
The sunlight illuminating this elk’s back and ears makes it special to me. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)

Avian Photos

Truthfully, the mountain birds were more difficult to photograph. They are typically smaller and constantly flitting about. The trout pond does occasionally attract predatory birds like herons, kingfishers, and egrets, but they do not tolerate the presence of people due to the “close quarters” around the diminutive pond.

I believe this is either a White-Crowned or Golden-Crowned sparrow… you decide. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)
A Mallard duck hen on the Cold Creek trout pond. Almost every spring there is a drake and a hen that nest in the thick Willow tree that grows on the northwest edge of the small pond. To see the hen and her ducklings from last year, visit this First Fish post. (Photo by Yvette Robichaud.)

Nature Fills Our Soul

I am grateful to Yvette for sharing her photos for this post. She creatively captured the natural aesthetics of one of my most cherished outdoor locations. It is a place I first explored back in 1976 with my friend Kevin McGoohan. A place I have continued to visit as often as possible for these past 48 years.

Nature is a gift for us to enjoy, and through which we are able to recognize God’s love, power, and authority. Here are but a few Bible verses referencing God’s beautiful creation. I pray these resonate with you:

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:3

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?

Job 12:7-10

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:3-4

In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Psalm 95:4-5

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.

Psalm 104:24-25

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Romans 1:20

Author: FisherDad

I am a Christian who has been married to my wife for over four decades, with six children and four grandchildren so far. I have retired from a string of successful occupations as a certified public accountant, a chief financial officer, and a registered municipal advisor. I have been a fly angler for almost five decades. My one and only article submission was published by Southwest Fly Fishing magazine (now American Fly Fishing). You can learn more about me by clicking on “About” on the top of my blog page.

7 thoughts on “A Cold Creek Photo Shoot”

  1. What a FUN and instructive read, Mark!
    I feel like I’m there all over again.
    Looking forward to your/our next adventures.
    Now where is my camera?

  2. What a great piece, Mark, all the way around. The photos are beautiful, but so are your words and the scripture passages you included. Thanks so much for sharing all this!

    1. Thank you David. I know that as a Christian you always appreciated seeing life through that lens, so to speak. I think you’ll like other post I sent you as well.

      I pray the Lord continues to bless you and keep you; you, Lisa, and your family.

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