LIfe at High Altitude in Colorado

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.

-Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gifts of Summer at High Altitude

We're having a busy, satisfying summer.

our gardens are blooming

grandchildren provide whimsy (our youngest grandchild, Sam - 3)

trails beckon us to follow (Jack - 11)

wildflowers sway in cool mountain breezes (Amanda - 13) 

old man of the mountain sunflower, paintbrush, and pinnate daisies

Pop Pop and Sam having a talk

red paintbrush, columbine, buttercup

Sam's shirt says, "I Wake Up Awesome" (and he does...)

you can find me here most late afternoons - reading and relaxing

Bob and I will celebrate our 50th Anniversary shortly.
We were married on August 14, 1966.
We give thanks for our life together.

We're having a gathering with family at the beach in CA in early August.

This is my last post before leaving.

Blessings to you,


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sunflowers on Black Powder Pass - Breckenridge, CO

Everywhere I look - wildflowers!
July is bloom time at high altitude.
Bob and I hiked Black Powder Pass last week. 
We were on the trail by 7:15 AM and had expansive views to ourselves.

It was a Sunflower kind of day!

early morning shadows - the trail is flat for a short distance before it starts climbing

sunflowers nodding in the morning breeze

way up high - snowfields and sunflowers at about 13,000' (3962 M)

Old Man of the Mountain Sunflowers

sunflowers facing east into the sun - dancing as the wind picks up

we're small in the grandeur of Nature

Sam (3) is visiting us for several days.  He keeps us busy with his antics.
He's looking sleepy here - I think it's time for a nap.
Maybe I'll take a little rest, too!

Thank you for visiting.
Wishing you good times and great views,

(comments closed)

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Song of Summer - Breckenridge

Traces of winter frost the peaks.

Trails glow in morning light.

Streams jitterbug over rocks.

Gardens dazzle with color and scent.

Warm days languish into cool nights.

Ordinary becomes amazing.

Each day offers gifts. I accept them gratefully:
A gentle rain falls to water wildflowers.
Four Junco babies snuggle in their nest.
Wild things begin their nocturnal hunt.
Lights are dimmed.
Our fireplace glows.
Books await.

I count my blessings.

Summer sings its song.

(Thank you for visiting. Comments are closed.)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tiny Miracles

each day a new surprise awaits

tiny miracles

I took the first photo with the Olympus EM-1 (14-150 mm zoom), but the others with less clarity are with the iPhone 6s. The nest is tucked in a wreath at our back door. There is too little space for the large camera to fit and focus. I must be quick to take a peek when Mama leaves the nest. If I'm near the nest when she returns, she paces at my feet. Mama Junco remains patient and diligent. She only leaves the nest to find food for the babies and herself. There are actually 4 baby birds, but the last was hatched a day later than the other 3. Its body is still pink, so I'm hoping it's alive. Watching the parents build and guard the nest was an extraordinary experience for us. The incubating, hatching, and now feeding of such tiny creatures is a full-time job for the mother bird. The hatchlings are about the size of my thumb. Their response to anything near them (even the iPhone) is to open their mouths for food. 

It's summertime at high altitude. Wildflowers are starting to bloom. My gardens are green and buds are showing on the perennials. I follow alpine trails with a smile on my face.

Globeflowers along Lehman Creek off Peak 10

Wishing you all everyday miracles!


(I'm keeping comments closed for awhile. Thank you for visiting.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wandering, Not Lost

Still unsettled this morning when I wake, I feel a sense of dread that should have dissipated. Last evening a woman crossing our property frantically screams a name. I call to her, "Your dog?" 

"No - my 10 year old daughter! We can't find her anywhere. Her dad thinks she may have gone into the woods."

Immediately, adrenalin surges through me. I call for Bob. We join the mother and the grandfather, fanning into the forest to search. The mother goes straight up the trail. Bob and Grandfather turn right toward the creek. I turn left onto a lesser-used trail leading into what my Grands call Scary Woods because the trees block light and moan as they rub together in the wind. 

Once enveloped by the forest, I'm less worried about evil people and more concerned about large foraging animals. Every time I've encountered a bear on the trails, it's been early evening when shadows start to gather. I clap and singsong, "Hey bear! Hey bear!" as I scan between the evergreens. 

Just where the trail emerges into a clearing, I see movement. Blue jeans, Tshirt, ponytail - a small girl! I call her name quietly, and she startles, wondering how this stranger knows her.  Trying not to frighten her, I quickly explain - I'm a neighbor, her family is worried, they think maybe she's lost. 

She looks me right in the eye, no longer wary. "I'm not lost! I put pebbles on top of bigger rocks so I can find my way back."

I laugh with relief. "Good girl! You did the right thing. I'll just walk with you back to your family." She smiles and chats amiably as we follow the trail (and her pebbles) toward home. 

When we reach their rental house, her aunt rushes toward us. The others are still searching. "Try the mother's cell," I say. "I'll go look for her."

As I head up the trail again, I see the mother approaching. She's calling the police. "She's safe," I yell. "Back at the house." We rush toward each other and both start crying. Relief! We hug so tightly that I can't distinguish her pounding heart from my own. Cheeks pressing together, our tears mingle. 

I look into the mother's eyes. "Please don't be angry with your daughter. She wasn't lost. She knew how to get back. She was just taking a walk in the woods. She's a smart and confident girl." We smile at each other through our tears.

Sometimes bad things happen. Thank goodness not in the case of the little girl who wasn't lost. I picture her now in my mind and get tears in my eyes - she's chatting happily about her walk, sure of herself, having a grand adventure, following an unknown path, but making sure she doesn't get lost.

A good ending - fear but no tragedy.

It's over 24 hours later now, and I feel calmer. Life is full of both bad and good. There is no controlling which we'll encounter. Some children are safe tonight, others are not. We can't keep ourselves or others from traveling unknown paths just to try and avoid the unknown.

Don't stop having adventures.
Just because you wander doesn't mean you're lost. 
"The dangers of life are infinite, & safety is among them." Goethe

(comments closed) 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Days of Hope and Promise

our son, Jim, fly fishing near our house

The air is fresh and crisp. 
Scents of pine, cedar, and spruce mix with wet earth.
Streams and rivers rage and overflow with snowmelt.
The high peaks glisten white.

Mama Junco is incubating eggs in the wreath just outside our back door.
We watch her through the window, wondering how many eggs are in the nest.
We're careful to stay clear of her domain and not frighten her.
(Luckily, we have 2 back doors!)

Perennials in the gardens are green and growing.
The Basket of Gold is blooming.
A few Daffodils sway in the breeze
Soon Poppies will burst forth with a riot of color.
Our water feature ("the stream") sprays and dances over tiny falls.
We like listening to its calming shushes and whispers.

Globeflowers growing in high alpine meadow

I hike above snow line to about 11, 400' (3,474 M).
Alone, I look out upon meadows of white.
Hardy wildflowers are just starting to bloom.
Little streams flow from melting snowbanks.


Fairy Slippers (Calypso Orchids) growing in the forest

Spring means new beginnings, a chance to grow and thrive.
I feel my spirit expand in the vastness surrounding me.
I give thanks for the chance to celebrate another spring -
each day is filled with hope and promise. 

Though I'll continue to post occasionally to have a record of my days,
I'll keep comments closed for awhile.
I thank you for your visit.
Stay well.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Let the Bloom Begin!

Today, we shoveled the last of the snow from our gardens.
We pruned and raked and gathered debris.
Our irrigation is started. 
We're tired!

Marsh Marigold


Though there is still snow on the trails,
wildflowers are blooming in boggy areas. 

Snowmelt continues to swell our rivers and streams.

At this time of the year,
we spend most of our waking hours outside.
We're either working on our property, hiking, or biking.
In the evenings after dinner, we discuss our day and read.
My computer time is limited.

I'm sure I'll think of you as I gaze up at the snow covered peaks.

 I hope you'll stay well and enjoy your days.
I plan to pack as much fun and activity into my summer as I can.
For now, I'll say goodbye for a little while.

(comments closed)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Offering Encouragement

We're back from a short trip to Vail and Aspen.

At 8,022' (2,445M), Vail Village is 2,000' (609M) lower than my house.
Snow is mostly melted, even on the mountain.
Trees and spring bulbs are blooming.

Gore Creek is thundering through Vail from spring runoff.
I hiked along the creek, noticing new growth on the banks. 

Bob starting the climb up Independence Pass - about 3,000 more feet to the top

On the second day, we biked Independence Pass, outside of Aspen.
The Pass was still closed to vehicles on the day we biked.
It officially opened the next morning.
The road was cleared of snow and controlled for avalanche.
At 12,095' (3,686M), it's the highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide in the US.
Starting on our ride, spring shows itself in lime aspen leaves and green grass. 

The old gold mining town of Independence (now a ghost town) is just above 10,000'

However, the road climbs relentlessly, up, up, and up. 
Above 10,000' (3,000M), the landscape is still snow covered.
The high peaks hold snow all summer.

thanks, Blake, for this photo - nice talking with you!

I mostly biked alone, at my own (slow) pace.
However, several young people spoke to me as they passed,
encouraging me to "keep pedaling!"
One young man rode with me for awhile, chatting about the pass.
I told him it was a difficult ride for a 72 year old gal.
When he was on his way back down,
he stopped and took this photo of me, still pedaling upward.

Bob's bike at the top

As I kept turning the pedals, I thought about how
just a little bit of encouragement can mean a lot.
The people who spoke encouragingly to me helped me keep going through a tough time.
We never know how much our small kindnesses can mean to someone's day.

Biking Independence Pass taught me
something about resolve and also something about being uplifted by others.

Returning home to Breckenridge, we met snow and cold.
However, each day brings more melting.

Today, I'm encouraged by this little Junco building a nest in my wreath -

and by this tiny critter the size of my thumb,
sunning itself in my rock garden.

Let me remember this:
what seems inconsequential is often just the opposite.