Elk

We were recently in Rocky Mountain National Park. The first part of October is a perfect time to visit this national park. Not only are the Aspen in full fall color but the elk are in rut. The sound of the bulls bugling carries out across the valleys which is always amazing to hear. Here is a photo of two cows engaged in some interesting behavior.Elk

We also saw plenty of bull elk. A bull elk and a number of cows walked right through the campground and our campsite. They are amazing animals. This next photo was taken in the campground. Elk-2If you have never seen elk in rut, I highly recommend going to Rocky Mountain National Park in late September to early October and witness this event for yourself.

 

Crystal River Mill

It is that time of year again when the Aspen trees in Colorado turn an amazing golden yellow color. This year is even better than most other years.

We just returned from a trip to the Marble, Colorado area and the Aspen trees were just unbelievably beautiful. The purpose of this camping trip was to make a trip to the Crystal River Mill which is above the town of Marble. It is not real easy to get to this location. The “road” or trail is narrow and rough. Here is a photo of the trail. There are places where the drops offs are enough to make some people very nervous. (If you click on the image it will enlarge)

Trail to Crystal River Mill

Trail to Crystal River Mill

We took a jeep tour to the mill which was well worth the cost. I could focus on photography and not have to worry about driving.

The mill was built in the late 1800’s and was used to generate compressed air for various uses in the mines. Some people claim it is the most photographed site in Colorado. I seriously doubt that because it is not that easy to get to. However, it does make a great photograph.

If you would like to go see this old wooden mill then I highly recommend the jeep tour method. If you are not going to do the jeep tour than an ATV would be a better method than some 4 wheel drive vehicle. Here is a link to the jeep tours. http://www.smithfamilycolorado.com/CRJT/

Oh, I almost forgot. Here is a photograph of the Crystal River Mill.

Crystal River Mill

Crystal River Mill

Wine Grapes

For the wine country in Grand Junction, Colorado it is harvest time. I have a few vines of my own so I can make a few bottles of wine. For the last two years I have lost all my Merlot and Syrah vines to freezing conditions. My Chardonnay vines have survived. I am in the fermentation process for the Chardonnay grapes. I actually prefer red wine but I am out of luck for this year.

Here is a recent photo of red wine grapes from the Grand Valley wine country.

Wine Grapes

Wine Grapes

If you are in the Grand Junction area I highly recommend taking a tour of the valley wineries. They make some great wines. Here is a link for more information.

http://www.grandvalleywine.com/

Bighorn Sheep

I recently went hiking with a friend in the Colorado National Monument and we saw Bighorn Sheep twice during this hike. That is very unusual. We saw 6 of them on the first part of the hike and approximately 30 more toward the end of the hike.

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep

We hiked the Bench Trail which is one of the longer trials in the Monument. We started out near Gold Star Canyon which is where we saw the first Bighorn. It is a steep climb to get up to the bench but after that the trail is not bad. Up and down with a few drop offs and just a very pleasant hike.

At the other end of the trail we came down the lower section of Liberty Cap Trail which is where we saw the rest of the Bighorns. While coming down the trail I fell and ended up sitting on my butt. While sitting down I shot the photograph you see above.

It was a fun hike and a great day.

Colorado National Monument Weather

Lately we have had more rain in the Grand Junction area and the Colorado National Monument than we usually have this time of year. While August into September is our “monsoon” season it has been much more so this year.

This photograph shows storm clouds building over the Monument. Click on image to enlarge.

Storm Clouds

Storm Clouds

This view is looking toward Independence Monument which is located in Monument Canyon. The photograph was taken just to the north of the Bookcliff overlook view point.

Lately there has been lots of low and clouds and fog in the Colorado National Monument. So far I have not captured an image that I am really happy with. But I will keep trying. I have great fog images from other years but not yet this year.

If you check out the page in my website for the Colorado National Monument you will find some of these fog shots.

 

 

Wildlife in the Colorado National Monument

Yesterday a friend (traveler A) and I went for a hike in the Colorado National Monument. We hiked Monument Canyon from the top to the bottom. It was a great day with magnificent scenery. By the end of the hike it started to get a little too warm.

On the drive up to be dropped off at the trail head we saw a Bighorn Sheep in the middle of the road. The following photograph was taken in the Balanced Rock area.

Bighorn

Bighorn

During the hike we also saw three Collared Lizards. It is unusual to see three of these lizards during one hike. The next photograph is obviously one of the lizards we saw. They are very colorful and easy to get close to. They also have a powerful bite. It is best to not try and pick one up.

Collared Lizard

Collared Lizard

 

Colorado National Monument Pothole

As promised we are back in the Colorado National Monument for this blog posting. I love it when it rains up there because the rocks are wet and the potholes are full of water. These water filled potholes are critical to the many life forms that live in the high desert. Some of these creatures are too small to see with the naked eye and others are the various mammals that live in this environment. In the desert water is very important. Hiking in this country can be deadly for humans if you forget to bring along water. Be sure to click on the image to enlarge. It doesn’t look very good in the small format.

Pothole

Pothole

In this photograph you can see among other things Independence Monument in the background. Independence Monument sits in Monument Canyon which is probably the best place to see Bighorn Sheep. I will be hiking there on Tuesday and hopefully will get some good shots of them. However, I do not always see them in Monument Canyon.

Here is a link to more information about the Colorado National Monument.

http://www.coloradonma.org/

Cold Shivers Point

Back in the Colorado National Monument today. This photograph is Cold Shivers Point which is about a 12 minute drive from our house. As a result, I am up here quite often. I have more photos to post on my blog of potholes filled with water. Lately we have received a lot of rain in the monument.

Cold Shivers Point

Cold Shivers Point

Recently a hiking friend (whose name I won’t mention) and I went for a hike in the Devil’s Kitchen area. Ned and I (opps!) found the Monument to be wetter than we have ever seen it. There were pools of water where we have never seen them before.

If you go up to Cold Shivers Point and go just a short distance north (to your right when facing the dropoff) you will find a whole bunch of really nice potholes. Be sure to stay off of the cryptobiotic soil.

Cold Shivers Point is well named. If you get close to the edge there is an incredible drop off. In this photograph you can see an area where the drop off is on three sides. I have never been out on that narrow point of rock. I have a balance problem so for me it is just too dangerous. Actually it is too dangerous for anyone to go out on that point.

Check back here again soon for the water filled potholes.

Lake Louise in Canada

Time for another look at our trip to Canada. We started our visit basically in Lake Louise. We camped at the Lake Louise Campground which is in the middle of bear country. While we did not see any bears at the campground other people did see bears. We saw bears three other times in the area but not right at the campground.

Lake Louise is beautiful place with the turquoise colored water. (See a previous posting for why the turquoise color).

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

We hiked along the lake shore for some amazing scenery. The weather was perfect and we had a great day.

We had lunch outside at the “Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise” which sites right on the shore of the lake. Perfect location for a great lunch with a great view. Here is a link to the Chateau:  http://www.fairmont.com/lake-louise/

Let me know if you have questions about this area. Almost all the photos you see on my website are for sale. Just send me an e-mail and we can discuss size and price.

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake is located in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. As you can see in this photograph it is a beautiful location with a turquoise color of the lake. The lake is this color due to the glaciers in the mountains. Their slow movement down the mountain grinds some of  the rocks into very fine “rock flour”. The fine sediment is suspended in the water and absorbs all the spectrum of light with the exception of turquoise which is reflected back at your eyes which makes what you see turquoise. Many of the lakes and rivers in this area of Canada are this beautiful color.

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake

We took a boat ride down the length of the lake to this island you see in the photograph. This is Spirit Island which is probably one of the most photographed places in the Jasper area.

Here is a link to more information about Maligne Lake:   http://www.malignelake.com/

The drive between Lake Louise and Jasper has some of the most amazingly beautiful scenery you will ever see. There are amazing mountain views with glaciers and beautiful turquoise colored lakes and rivers.

We will definitely be going back to the Canadian Rockies for another visit.