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)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hello Moose!

The pansy bed is blooming.
Waldo smiles beside the stream.
Moose visits to check on how my garden grows.

For such a huge animal, she walks daintily.

I've asked her not to tromp on the flowers.
However, she does like to nibble on my willow bush.

She wanders among the wild Lupine
whose scent fills the air.
Moose prefer Fireweed
which aren't yet in bloom.

When she starts chomping on my aspens,
I have to ask her to leave.

Goodbye Moose - until the next time.

I don't know why Barb is asking me to leave!
What's all the fuss!

I took these photos from my deck
with my new micro 4/3 14-150mm zoom.
They're all the same moose, but on some photos,
if she was too shadowed,
I lightened her face.
It's dangerous to get too close to a moose.
She was fully aware of my presence
but didn't seem concerned.
When she started eating the aspens, I made a racket
by pounding on the metal caps to my deck posts.
She flicked her ears a few times
before moving farther into the forest.

Monday, June 29, 2015

High Alpine Hike - Our World

Come hike with me.
We start in the shadows of the early-morning forest.

The heart-leafed Arnica show us the way.

Senecio glows in bright sunlight.

Along Crystal Creek, raging from snowmelt,
the Parry Primrose is showing its pink.

Near the Wheeler Trail at over 11,000' (3,353 M),
I'm excited to find
the elusive and tiny Pigmy Bitterroot.

Finally, on the Wheeler Trail,
a young doe is startled but allows a photo.
Meanwhile, I think we should begin clapping and calling
"Hey Bear!" as we continue to hike through dense willow bushes.
Surprising a doe is one thing,
surprising a bear is another!

Mount Helen, Father Dyer, and Crystal Peak
form a majestic backdrop.

At about 11, 300' (3,444 M), we rest briefly, have a snack,
and enjoy the views.

We pass Francie's Cabin on our way back down.
Part of the Summit Huts system, it can be rented
in both winter and summer.
It sleeps 20 people.

Orange Paintbrush and yellow Buttercups

Wildflowers compete with distant views of high peaks.
We gain about 1,300' (396 M) of altitude on our climb.
Now, we must carefully navigate the rocky trail
downward toward home.

After over 8 miles (12.8 K), we finally see a welcome sight.
 Let's rest on the swing and admire the wild Lupine.

Remember the blue skies,
swollen creeks, snow drifts,
jagged peaks, and colorful wildflowers
of Colorado at the end of June.

Thanks for coming with me.
Otherwise, I would have been alone.

I admit that at 71, I'm not getting any faster
at climbing and navigating the high trails.
That said, I can still do it.
Today's hike took me about 4 1/2 hours.
It was tiring but exhilarating.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer at High Altitude

Though snow remains above treeline,
wildflowers and perennials are blooming.

The fragile Calypso Orchid has already
gone dormant and spilled its seeds.

Dainty Jacob's Ladder blooms in shady spots.

Paintbrush in many colors shows itself along trails and in meadows.

My garden angel, Angelica, is old and rickety.

However, she adds a wabi-sabi touch to my garden.

I appreciate her serenity.

Ponds glitter under bright blue skies,
luring fly fishermen to try their luck.

Color returns to our mountain landscape.

Today, as I stood at the back steps weeding,
I heard a strange sound.
A porcupine came waddling within inches of me,
its needles swishing,
and squeezed between the steps and under the deck.

PS Some people have indicated a problem with commenting. If you're having a problem, please e-mail me at I'm interested in how many people have a problem, and if it's mainly people using WordPress. Thanks!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bittersweet Memories

Some of you will remember 4 years ago when 

On June 20, family and friends
gathered at the new pocket park on N Main Street
to dedicate a Bristlecone Pine in remembrance of C.
Little sister A, who was 2 when C died, 
is now a willowy and lovely 6.

She and her daddy played their guitars at the ceremony.
The tribute and poem I wrote 4 years ago for C's
memorial was read once again in front of the tree.

Smiling through tears, we stood and shared stories of C's life.

Forget-Me-Not in my yard

Bob and I hadn't seen the family for 4 years.
They left the house next door immediately after C's memorial
to spend time and to grieve with close family.
They sold their Breckenridge house and moved hours away.
We keep in touch by e-mail and notes.
Seeing them in person again was emotional.

There is a new member of the family now.
Little AE was born in January 2015.
She shares her sisters' dark hair and liquid eyes.
As we celebrate C's young life cut short,
we're aware that new and continuing life
blooms in the sister, the baby, and the tree.

Bob and I feel both grief and happiness for this family.
Surely, losing a child is the greatest burden a parent can bear.
Welcoming a child into a family is the greatest joy.

On a sunny day in the mountains of Colorado,
we are reminded of loss and also of love.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nature's Rebirth

 lemony sunshine
lush green forest
wet pansy faces
a new day dawns

orange Paintbrush

Snow remains into June.
When it finally melts, 
perennials and wildflowers emerge
already green and growing.
At high altitude there is no time to waste.

For 2 weeks,
I'm busy from early to late,
cutting and raking and discarding
seedheads, stalks, and weeds.
Our water feature ("the stream")
babbles past Waldo as he smiles his approval.
The hard work of a short high altitude spring
is nearly complete.


On a hike behind the house,
we encounter patches of snow.
The Marsh Marigold and Globe Flower
bloom in boggy areas.

Calypso Orchid

Deep in the forest,
I find fragile Calypso Orchids
nestled among Kinnickinnick.

Lehman Creek with drifts of snow
plus Globe Flower and Marsh Marigold along the bank

Lehman Creek, swollen with snowmelt and rain,
tumbles and churns down the mountain.


Patches of yellow Arnica lead me
through a lush wilderness.

our 8 year old granddaughter, Neve, took this photo of me
the dandelions are growing profusely in downtown Breckenridge
(but not in MY yard...)

After a long white winter,
I rejoice in Nature's rebirth.

female moose (one wearing a red tag) in our yard

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hiking the Colorado Trail at Gold Hill under Moody Skies - Skywatch

We've had dramatic and changeable skies
in Summit County, CO, this spring.

Breckenridge Ski Area, Peaks 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of Tenmile Range

I finally decided to take a chance and hike
part of the CO Trail at Gold Hill
though rain clouds threatened.

I climbed steadily for 2 miles before a few drops of rain
persuaded me to go back to the van.

Gold Hill was heavily logged a couple years ago
due to beetle-killed pine.

Lake Dillon

Though the first mile is a wasteland of drying logs,
the trail finally veers into a lovely evergreen forest.

snow is mostly melted under 10,000'

I was alert for bear and moose
but only encountered one busy ermine
wearing its thick chocolate-brown summer coat.

This trail is used after snowmelt by both day and through-hikers
but there is still too much snow above 10,000' to proceed.

However, in my 4 miles, I was rewarded
by tiny, delicate wildflowers
just beginning to bloom. 

Thank you to Sylvia, Sandy, and Yogi for hosting

Skywatch Friday

storm clouds over the Continental Divide