Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Guests and staff alike fled into the porch's sunlight for the infrequent bursts of warmth- It put a smile on everyones face! For a moment , a wave of light rolled over just the top of Shadow Mountain, and another in the dramatic foreground of Flattop's cold scene. Over the Grandby area- far to the south appeared a brighter sky where the clouds had blown away. i wondered how much warmer it was just 10 or twenty miles south. I bet they didn't get the magic that we were experiencing! The Gore's were lit and colourful for Sunset- we didnt get much more than what they contributed to our dusk.
Monday, August 17, 2009
AUG 17. What fortune to have something like the East Shore trail to hike before work in the morning. The wind from yesterdays storm system- and the rain and clouds- disappeared over night, leaving Shadow lake glassy and calm. The opportunity did not go to waste!
Kelly and I hopped onto the trail and reaped the early morning spectacles- Osprey and geese, beautiful Cinquefoil and the last of the season's rose blooms. There is a designated Osprey Nesting site not too far in, lake-side. The Shadow Mountain trail was to be the point at which we would turn around to make it back in time for Kelly's housecleaning duties- I had work later in the day.
Shrubby Cinquefoil, Dasiphora fruticosa
We made the dip where the big National Forest information board is and rounded the bends- Then there was a Moose. It wasn't until we'd just began playing with the idea of heading for home that we came across the big guy- Kelly spotted him before I did.
It was his Moose-Butt that we saw- right in the center of the trail!. it stopped us both in our tracks. I took some pics, and I'm sure that she got some very nice butt-pictures herself! The moose was aware of our presence- he turned his head just enough to catch a glance before turning again to repossess his space-out on the smooth water. The act appeared to be one of insolence. We dared not pass- thick brush to the left and a drop to the lake on the right left us no safe opportunity to pass, and the moose was definitely not going to move. We were silent. Kelly and I whispered back and forth, but words were useless in communicating the awe that we shared. He was massive- the size of the moose alone was more than impressive- intimidating.
Once our shock was overcome we walked quietly back towards where we'd come from and let the arrogant beast alone. He sensed our movement and gave another glance as I tried to turn my own eyes away. The moose began a slow walk- surly not as careful as ours.
We talked about the encounter for some time on the way back- Kelly checked the time and we'd made the reverse with none to spare. Conversation changed toward artwork- We talked about hers and mine. Kelly has been an accomplished artist since her high school years and she seems to find talent in my photographs. She again proposed the idea of sharing a booth at Grand Lake's Fall Festival at the end of September- she's got the thing planned out, and Bob intends to help us get a booth. I'm not sure that my silly photos have a place in the world of professional art, but it could be fun..?... We talked about the things on the trail and took a small side-trip up a mysterious clearing that looked to lead up the Mountain. We didnt get far- we didn't see much, either: Some rocks and a good puddle.
The 'trail' seemed to disappear and we were finally deterred by a good fallen tree. Some passer-bys expressed their curiosity as we met the main trail again. Kelly's reply to their inquiries was vague- she told them something to the effect of 'dont know whats up there- we didnt find anything exciting. She told them about the moose and made it back to work on time to conclude another successful trip. .
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The drive seemed shorter than it did in July, and the intended route through Pawnee Buttes remains untraveled. Again the truck's spark-plug wires failed- east of Limon- and I dared not make the risk of becoming stranded before I was able to make it to Shadowcliff where I was to work in only two days.
The skies had been dark for a while at the time I exited 70 to climb over Berthoud Pass and the loud music deafened me to the weary scream of the engine, or just distracted me from it's nerve-racking 4000RPMs on my way to 11307 feet. Arapaho bay was my stopping place, though it was sure that I wouldn't arrive there until after 1am.
...Through Winter Park and into more familiar territory as I found myself to be the only moving vehicle in Grandby, just a few miles south of the damn' (Dam) turnoff. I slipped into spot number four as quietly as I could and made a fire and a bite to eat. My eyes quickly straitened and I regained my hearing- a second wind, it seemed- at least until I tried standing an hour or two after the start of my rest near the fire. I made a sloppy 3am camp next to the truck and was out.
A lonely campground host met me on his way around the drive- I had packed up camp by 5:30 and took a little stroll myself. The air was not too cold, but a heavy mist and a few seconds of rain had the place lookin' a little miserable. "Mornin, Kansas!" The old man had identified my licence plate and told me about how the number of moose sightings had dropped dramatically since the rains stopped in June. He had hoped to find one on such a wet morning as this, but had seen none in two weeks now. I learned that he and his wife were visiting from Texas for the season and intended to travel closer to home when the campgrounds closed. The man was very nice- he asked me if I was hungry and suggested the small bakery in the campground for his favorite warm Blueberry Muffins. Upon the close of our conversation, however, I chose a hike around Monarch Lake instead.
I first noticed that things appeared incredibly dry, despite the moist air. One island in the lake was a peninsula, creeks were shallow and I found no mushrooms. The old steam-donkey was a pleasant side-trip from the path- Some parts of it were especially interesting with the gloss of dew and rain. Flowers on the trail- the dominant Ox-eyed daisies- were blue-tipped. I suspected herbicide, but the blue was also on the vegetation around the flowers. A ranger approached me on the trail and asked where I'd been and what I was doing in something of a demanding tone. I answered and gave my own interrogation: "Whats with the blue?" He told me that the NPS had sprayed the daisies on Tuesday and then left without a smile- I completed my 3- or 4-mile orbit around the lake and spotted some blue in the sky. It was then I realized that i had come upon no precipitation since the steamer, only 1/3 the way around the lake. Things were looking beautiful! Grand Lake brought a smile to my face, but the truck wasn't doing so well. It was good to see my friends again, and I was excited to get started.