Elk Meadow

Yesterday I decided on a short walk at Elk Meadow about 10am. The clouds were everywhere taunting the forecast for rain after 1pm; they played along the ground adding cold heavy moisture to a hike that is usually hot and dry.

Today I took the path that comes closest to Evergreen Parkway. I enjoy walking in an open area and being able to see cars on the nearby highway. It’s a wonderful turnabout where you hear the birds and enjoy nature just within sight of the man-made things you are temporarily escaping.

In the middle of the path and sprinkled through the grasses on either side were Sand or Star Lilies. They drape beautifully along the ground, the delicate 2-3″ flower looking elegant.

More flowers were appearing under trees along the path. Their bud heads still tight, hiding their identity.

The colors of the flowers and trees were vivid from the moisture and contrasted strongly against the sandy earth and grasses.

I stopped at a lookout to see the Ponderosa in this photo. The tree framed the view of the meadow and competed for attention with the bright oranges of the scared trunk.

Stained glass

My Mother’s Day gift was a beginning stained glass workshop at Evergreen Center for the Arts. In five hours all six students got the feel for making stained glass and walked away with a completed project. Even better hanging in the window at home with sunlight coming through, the imperfections are’t visible, just the beautiful reflection of light in the colored glass.

I enjoy the workshops at the art and recreation centers. They give a chance to try a new hobby, to try equipment and supplies, to learn from the teacher where practice leads, to learn shortcuts, to learn how to avoid mistakes and to meet some really fun people.

I took a watercolor class several years ago to paint the wildflowers I was trying to learn. In the beginning family couldn’t guess the subject of my painting, but it fed my soul and got me outside, so that was okay.

I believe the beautiful of the area we live in encourages art classes. When I see the beauty outside my door the urge to catch those memories and to relive the feeling of wonder is strong.

Marshdale hike- part 2

Besides celebrating finding the path to the top I enjoyed finding some of the first green of spring.

Heading up the path were plants with tiny white flowers and leathery green leaves growing very low to the ground called kinnikinnick. The leaves and bark from this plant have been used for smoking and the berries for bladder and kidney problems.

On top of the ridge was what appeared to be a large bonsai tree. The branches were twisted and one side had a low branch seat perfect for surveying the sights.

The ridge just out in several directions. Looking from one rock wall to the next you see trees growing out at angles, hanging at times as if suspended in mid air.

Mullein plants were beginning in the crevices along the path where water runs down the hills. They were just fuzzy leaves. Next a shoot will appear and the stalk will be topped with little yellow flowers. The leaves of the plant have also been used to smoke, and in this case help with respiratory problems.

We’ve had a lot of snow so the plants are fresh, without blemish. They are showing up where moisture was heavy. As summer comes the heat and dry will take its toll and the plants will blend into the arid landscape.

Marshdale hike

Yah! Found the trail behind Marshdale Elementary in the Denver Mountain Parks Conservation Property that goes to the top of the rock outcropping. I’ve been looking for two months, but with the snow I lose the trail and a large housing development adjacent with private property posting has been the only constant. From the top the views are wonderful. The Barn Chapel in Evergreen Memorial Park is visible to the south. To the west snowy peaks line the horizon, and the view of Conifer Mountain is clear. Along the trail flowers are starting to appear; stark white petals contrasting against dark green leathery leaves. Small gullets lining the path, and fuzzy Mullen leaves sprouting.

First flower

First Pasqueflower of 2019. Each day it opens to show the light lavender color inside, and moves following the arc of the sun. Each night it closes and the silvery hairs covering the flower stalk and sepals catch water drops which glisten in the early morning sunlight.

Snow disappears

The regular snow falls of 2019 have kept me inside far too long. Today I visit Elk Meadow and happily discover finding a patch of snow is almost impossible. Living in an area in the foothills where snow can appear and disappear within hours means a lot of surprises.

Lots of people are out today walking. Many have dogs with wagging tails. They seem to enjoy the warmth from the sun as much as me

Walking in the open meadow at the north end of park the grass has sprung back up after being packed under snow. It looks more like fall than spring.

By next week green may be breaking free, and it will be looking like spring.

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.

Bomb cyclone

March 13 the bomb cyclone hit Evergreen. It rained early morning, then snow started to get heavy mid-morning and continued into the night. The thing I noticed most was the high winds that whipped the snow and left visibility only a few feet. Lucily the original forecast changed; we missed the heart of the storm. After several hours of wind and snow it was nice to know the storm was not staying, that we might not lose power. School was cancelled but this was not the weather you could enjoy.

March 14th we alternated shoveling and playing outside with the dogs.Snow ranged from one to two feet; the winds were gone. School was cancelled so roads would have time to be cleared.

Three days later mounds of snow still border the roads. How wonderful this winter has been for moisture. There’s a good chance wildflowers will appears that have been dormit for years. And even better news is the extra moisture will ward off springs fires.

Buchanan Recreation Center

Evergreen has two recreation centers. Being across from Elk Meadow Park this one has beautiful views. Trails surround the center and Bergen Park.They connect under the highway to Elk Meadow and many miles of trails.. The hiking trails are hidden from the highway by trees. Walking you notice nature instead of roads.

There are two ponds in front of the center that don’t quite freeze because of pumps that keep the water moving. The reflection of the center in the water of the open areas is beautiful. This is a view the business complex on the other side of the pond enjoy daily. And in the summer families fish these stocked ponds and play on the sculptures on shore. There is always something to see from the rec center and office windows.

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