Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Walden Pond

Well, not really.  But we did stay for several days at South Delaney Butte Lake, about 10 west of Walden, CO.  Another great place for Ron to use his Colorado fishing license and free, free, free.

Here we are parked at the base of Delaney Butte.

There were a few other people there.  This guy had an inflatable boat and multiple fishing poles.

The wildlife entertained us.  This mommy duck stayed between her babies and the white-faced ibis (or is that ibises?)

We drove around one day and appreciated this pastoral scene.

And I was thrilled when this Pronghorn posed for a picture alongside the road.

We even spotted a moose in downtown Walden.

But back to the title, closer to town is Walden Reservoir.  However, with the water being low, I commented that it was more like a pond.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Another Great Spot

Next we moved to a State Wildlife Area a couple of miles west of Hot Sulpher Springs, CO.  This is a great boondocking spot for fishermen since it's right on a section of the Colorado River designated 'Gold Medal Waters.'
I took this out the front window of the RV - Ron could have almost fished out the window.  The bridge is US 40 and the coordinates for the turn to the spot are 40.05312, -106.13277.  I wouldn't advise taking anything bigger than our 30' rig into the area, but there is a place to disconnect as soon as you turn off the highway.  Luckily Ron is fearless.

We saw beavers swimming by every evening and they were a lot closer than the one we saw at Lower Cataract Lake, but it was too dark for pictures.  However we found evidence of just how busy these beavers have been.
After all their work, they must have been upset when the tree fell away from the river, but we could see they had stripped off all the branches.

We took a day trip to Grand Lake, supposedly where the Colorado River begins.  I think that's up to debate, but it is the largest natural lake in Colorado.

We did the short .3 mile hike to Adams Falls,  one of the inlets to the lake.   Not the most impressive waterfall.

But if you continue about another .3 mile, you come to this lovely meadow.
It seemed that everyone we passed had seen moose, and so did we.  However the mommy and baby were so far away, I don't think it really counted.

Another day, after taking an exploratory drive, I had Ron drop me off in Byers Canyon, a short but spectacular gorge, the beginning of which you can see in the first picture.

But here's where my father will be really proud of me - I waited around for a whole hour to photograph trains!  Here comes one now.  It looks like I might have gotten a bit excited and jiggled the camera.

But my goal was to capture a passenger train.  We had seen one go by about 3:30 the day we arrived, so I was hoping it was on a daily schedule.  Sure enough, at almost exactly 3:30, I hit the jackpot.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ute Pass

We took a hike which began at Ute Pass and here's the thing.  I've decided that I'm not doing any more hikes that begin at a mountain pass.  All you do is climb up, up, up through the trees and once in a while you might get a view like this.  (Once again we had the smoke/haze problem.)
Which is nice, but most of the time you're just climbing through the trees.  I prefer a hike with more scenery along the way or a specific destination.

But we did see a couple of interesting things.  There was this tree that seemed to have exploded, sending pieces flying in all directions.
(The remainder of the tree is on the far right.)

A couple of the pieces stabbed into the ground and remained vertical.
We assumed it was hit by lightning, but we had never seen that effect.  Maybe Gumo, our ex-national park ranger fellow blogger, can confirm or explain.

Also, as many of you know, the nasty Mountain Pine Beetle has devastated large areas of Colorado. Here's a link to a map of this area showing the progression of the beetle over the years if you're interested.

And here's a representative picture.

But what I noticed on this hike was the natural regeneration of the forest.
Looking at the progression map, it appears that the beetle went through this area about ten years ago.  It makes me smile to see all the new trees, but of course a wildfire would take out all the dead trees plus all that lovely new growth.

Ron and I were admiring the pattern left by the little critters on this debarked log and thought it could be used as a decorative piece.

After all my rambling, I'll leave you with this simple wildflower.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Green Mountain Reservoir

After a day of recuperation, we moved on to Green Mountain Reservoir, about 16 miles north of Silverthorne, CO.  The reservoir has six campgrounds, four of which are $5 a night and, for some mysterious reason, two are $10.  We stayed in South Cow Creek, which used to be free, but with Ron's Golden Age pass is still a bargain at $2.50.  We stayed four nights at this lovely spot.

The only thing wrong with the place is the abundance of these critters.  Although admittedly cute, they are an overpopulation problem in parts of Colorado and sometimes carry fleas infected with the Bubonic Plague.  Yikes!

One day we took a hike around Lower Cataract Lake.  It's only about two miles around this pretty mountain lake.  (BTW, we had quite a bit of haze during our stay there.  We heard it was from the fires in Idaho.)

We were excited to see this beaver swimming around.

I know what you're thinking - why do I love beavers and hate prairie dogs.  Well, because the beavers have the good sense to stay away from humans!

We're guessing the only reason he was out during the day was because a rude human (not us) had came too close to his den.   He was sounding the alarm by slapping his tail quite dramatically.  I caught a very blurry shot of him lifting his tail.

And the huge splash it made.  It sounded like a rifle shot.

At the trail head, there was a sign saying that the bridge was out and halfway around the lake we came across this warning sign.

But we think somebody forgot to remove the sign, because just look at the fancy new bridge!
Although if you look closely, you can see the giant tree that must have taken out the old bridge.

However, if we hadn't continued on, we would have missed the view from the far end of the lake.
(Did I mention it was hazy?)

And also missed this sign of recent beaver activity.
At the top of this slide was a grove of aspen trees, some of which the beavers had cut and somehow dragged at least 60 feet down  to the water.  Talk about your 'busy beavers.'

One more cute thing.  We saw this deer enjoying the plants on a plant nursery roof in Silverthorne.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Little Blessings

There is one more reason we spent two weeks in the Denver area; that’s where Ron’s two daughters and their families live.

Here is the newest addition.  Little Harper is six months old here and without any bias or prejudice, I can honestly state that he is the cutest baby in the world.

We wanted to keep him, but Kelli and Sean selfishly refused.

But after years of talking about it, we finally took Kim and Tom’s two with us for a couple of days.  Here are Adam and Shannon all buckled in and ready for the drive into the mountains.

We stayed in a campground on Lake Dillon. 

The first day was rainy and just dreary and we filled our time with playing games and taking a walk around the campground, but it did clear up in the evening so we could make s’mores.  Yes, we actually had a campfire because otherwise it just wouldn’t be camping.

Happily, the next day was gorgeous!  Lake Dillon is still pretty even with the water down from the summer usage.  Of course this is just a little piece of it.

Ron took Adam fishing.

We rode part of the back path around the lake.

I should have a sign on my bike that says, "I brake for flowers."

Is there anything cuter that a little girl in a bike helmet?

We even got Ron’s kayak off the top of the car and they took turns paddling around.  Adam really loved it.

While Shannon didn’t like the ‘fish water’ dripping on her off the paddle.

Once again we ended the day with s’mores.  Since we ran out of chocolate bars, we used chocolate syrup.  That wasn’t as good.
Do you think Shannon might be getting tired of posing?

Kim came to pick them up the next morning.  That was all the time the kids could spare out of their busy schedule.  I think they had a good time though and we enjoyed having them.  

Now I'm only a week behind!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mt. Evans

Another thing that I've been wanting to do in the Denver area is drive to the top of Mt. Evans.  Ron and I attempted it in July one year and were stopped by snow!  It's pretty special because you can drive to the top of a 14er, but the attraction for me is the wildlife.

The mountain goats are magnificent and not shy around people.  Happily, it's not because they are begging or  people feed them, but they are just so used to humans, that they don't care and go about their business.

Mommies and babies.

I can't stop.

Finally we tore ourselves away and climbed the final hundred or so feet to the summit from the parking lot.

Whew!  We made it.  Okay, the view is pretty fantastic.

(Credit for the photo goes to sister Diana.)  For those of you wondering why Diana was there again when she posted about Mt. Evans five days ago, it's because I'm still catching up to myself.  We were there the same day, but you can see that I am getting close.

On the way back down, we saw a bonus - Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.  More cute babies.

One of the little guys got hungry.

We stopped at pretty Summit Lake.

Now a little about the road - it was scary.  First there was the frost-heaved section - a free roller coaster ride.

But mostly, (did I mention?) it was scary.

Luckily they marked where the road is crumbling away.

However if you can tear yourself away from watching the road long enough, there was a pretty nice view.

Oh, and one more bit of wildlife - this marmot was wondering what all the fuss was about.