Elk watching

Sometimes they pose. Particularly noticeable are the males as fall begins.

The males get my attention for several reasons. They aren’t seen as often as the females. Since they don’t travel in groups like the females and babies do all summer they seem more unique. Their racks are majestic, and they come in different variations, sometimes the anthlers spread wide, sometime their arch is narrow.

Taking his time to sit relaxing, the one in the picture started off by showing me several several impressive profiles. Then he walked around eating the still green grass and allowed me to see his anthlers, which will soon be used to push other males around. In the next week or two the elk rut will be underway.

Summer flowers

This has been a special summer. Spring provided lots of snow and rain to get the flowers started, but something even more unusual happened when rain appeared frequently in the afternoons each week.

Most summers by the end of June the dry heat shows ups by mid-morning and doesn’t stop until late afternoon as the sun sets and the temperature drops. This year late afternoon showers have continued into August. Sometimes the rain is steady and hard, with thunder and lightning thrown in for a little extra punch.


Because of all of the moisture the flowers line the trails as if spring were still here. The colors are strong, and the sun stays behind clouds enough in the afternoons for moisture to have a chance to hang around.

The mornings are dry and the temperatures dip to the high 50s so morning hikes are guaranteed.

In the afternoons sitting on the deck waiting to see how much rain will fall the birdfeeder is full of birds such as the Western Tanager that is flying through and the many kinds of woodpeckers in the Ponderosa and Lodgepoles. The smaller woodpeckers take turns chasing each other around the trees in their jerky little dance while the larger Flicker intimidate with just their size.

Evergreen Lake

I love early morning to walk Evergreen Lake while it is still quiet.It attracts a lot of visitors, particularly in the summer, but visitors and even most locals wait until mid-morning to show up. This is the time to watch the animals, listen to the birds, and enjoy the mirror like images on the surface of the water.

Near the lake house I found a small group of elk enjoying the water. Walking slowly through the water which reaches the top of their legs, they are not bothered by the ice cold water. They give me a glance and continue on their stroll.

A red-winged blackbird perches on the reeds behind the lake house. The small flash of color contrasts against the light straw color of the reeds and the bright green of the golf course beside the park. It flies from one perch to another, occasionally hidden from sight as it dips into the reeds.

Canadian geese follow each other while periodically calling out. Soon they will be joined b their chubby little chicks.

A cormorant swims near the boat docks. At first I watch the bird expose its body and then sink into the water leaving just a small dark head. Then I watch the bird disappear underwater, playing hide and seek. It is amazing how long it stays down and how far it swims while underwater.

I never know what I will see, but always know I will enjoy walk.

Spring Break Hike in Conifer

This week I visit Flying J to hike. Here the snow from two weeks ago still lies heavy in the many shaded areas under the trees. The shadows, dead grass and animal tracks are all that change the white landscape.

I enjoy the crunch of snow mixed with ice hiking early. By 8am mud is already taking over the areas in the sun. Each day the islands of open ground expand under the trees. The moist brown mulch from the pine trees draw my attention to the tree itself. In warmer seasons the ground and trees meld together and it’s all the trees, the forest I see.

This park is home to many small, black Abert squirrels. They are shy so instead of seeing them sitting on a log, usually they appear in motion, running from tree to tree. Today I didn’t see one, but I saw the remains of their meal on the trail, Ponderosa needles and little pieces of bark.

Next week work starts again, and I will walk in the afternoons. Then I will enjoy the difference a few hours can make watching the shadows as they close the day.

Yak

This yak was born last summer and lives with a small group. I watched it stay with its mom for months. Then follow its mom. And finally venture out on its own.

Home base for this group surrounds a pond and is next to where they are fed. In the pond are often local geese or some Canadian geese that stop while flying through. Neither the geese or yak seem afraid of each other, or to have much interest in each other.

At Christmas time I saw the young yak walking of the frozen pond. It would walk to the middle of the pond and check out the dog house that had been home to the geese. Looking closer at the pond yak tracks crisscross and cover it. Apparently this new adventure is fun. I wonder is this will change the relationship of geese and yak.

Marshdale

Between Evergreen and Conifer is Marshdale. The sleepy looking area needs close inspection to find hidden history and trails.

For instance behind Marshdale Elementary is Denver Mountain Parks Conservation Property. Trails here may be best known to fourth graders who climb each spring while learning about Indians and checking out the wildlife. Starting up the trail is an old column of gray rocks. Students have added small painted rocks in the crevices leaving bright splashes of color.

New custom homes dot one side of the property. Another side has small cabins from the early 1900s. Like the column of rocks, new and old sit side by side.

Happy New Year Snow

This winter snow has not been often or heavy. On New Years Eve the snow fell lightly on and off all day and throughout the night. Waking up in 2019 the first thing to greet me was the cold.

Last Walks of 2018

Tonight there will be snow so today I’m enjoying cold weather with lots of sun at Elk Meadow. The fields are beautiful with tall grass bending gracefully in the morning light. Shadows play against the golden grasses and old buildings dot the landscape.

Bison

The bison stand in groups facing away from the wind. Yesterday the wind came up with gusts of 50 miles an hour. Today it is calming down, but not giving up.

This year there were more than eight bison born. Two I saw were white like the one on the far left in the photo. The babies are sheltered behind the group.

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