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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Photography'

Mount Evans

August 30th, 2015 · No Comments

This summer I have been going higher and higher in the mountains of Colorado. I’ve also made sure to get up early so I could reach the trailheads at sunrise. Today I reached both of my limits.

​I climbed to the summit of Mount Evans. At 14,264 feet, it is the highest of the Chicago Peaks in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and is 70 miles southwest of my home in Boulder. The highest paved road in North America took me up to 14,127 feet, so I only had to hike about a quarter of a mile to the summit.

At the Summit of Mount Evans

At the Summit of Mount Evans

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​Colorado has 11 mountains that are even higher that Mount Evans, starting with Mount Elbert, which is 176 feet more. But none of them have roads that will take me most of the way there.

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A Hard Hike to The Loch

August 29th, 2015 · No Comments

If I didn’t known how beautiful The Loch and the trail to it is, I would have stayed home. I would have missed a great experience that at the same time exhausted me.

Two previous hikes to this spectacular lake in Rocky Mountain National Park convinced me that no setting can be more glorious, so it would be worth the effort. When I first hiked up to The Loch in 2007, I wrote in my photo essay then that I never had to stop because I was tired.

But I had to rest quite a few times on Tuesday. I’m not sure what explains the difference, but of course I’m eight years older now. I also forgot to bring any food with me and had only a glass of my protein shake for breakfast at 4:30 and nothing else until I got back home 12 hours later. Sharon, my hiking partner, offered me some of her picnic lunch, but because it wasn’t vegetarian and low-carb, I declined. Another difference was that I was drowsy from the drug I’m taking for seasonal allergies. In addition I was carrying two of my cameras, my binoculars, and my backpack.

​Sharon Says I Take So Much Stuff

Sharon Says I Take So Much Stuff

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But both Sharon and I made sure to carry our cell phones, even if for most of the hike we were out of range. We want to be sure to avoid a repeat of our misadventure at Caribou Ranch earlier this month.

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Back to the Pawnee Grassland

August 24th, 2015 · No Comments

The sun rose on Thursday over the Pawnee National Grassland on the high plains of Eastern Colorado as Sharon and I watched. A freak summer cold front brought the temperature down to 46 degrees, and smoke from fires in the Pacific Northwest partly obscured the sun on an otherwise cloudless morning.

The Sun Rises on Pronghorn and Sunflowers

The Sun Rises on Pronghorn and Sunflowers

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We drove two hours from our homes in Boulder in order to drive another 21 miles on the Pawnee National Grassland Birding Tour. A proud looking bird welcomed us at the information kiosk when we reached it.

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Birds and Insects of Boulder’s Tallgrass Prairies

August 21st, 2015 · No Comments

A ​Boulder Audubon trip to the South Boulder Creek Natural Area suggested that we could see Birds and Insects of Boulder’s Tallgrass Prairies​. We did.

Led by Steve Jones, the mainstay of the Boulder Audubon Society, and less than two miles from my home, this trip was a must for me. The Rocky Mountains also rise up less than two miles from this Natural Area.

The Rockies Start Here

The Rockies Start Here

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​We saw one of my favorite insects, a Monarch Butterfly.

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A Moose Adventure at Caribou Ranch

August 20th, 2015 · No Comments

No caribou live within a thousand miles of Boulder County’s Caribou Ranch Open Space. ​It’s named for the nearby ghost town of Caribou, which in turn took its name from the Caribou silver mine that Sam Conger discovered near there in 1869. He thought that the animal he shot there was a caribou, but it was probably an elk.

​Until the last few years there haven’t been any moose living at Caribou Ranch either. ​Before 1978 only a few stray moose wandered into northern Colorado from Wyoming, but then Colorado wildlife managers began introducing them from Wyoming and Utah into North Park about 50 miles away on the other side of the Rocky Mountains.

Since then, more than 50 moose have crossed the Continental Divide, and Sharon and I got a glimpse of a mama moose and her baby at Caribou Ranch last year. This time we got really close to a juvenile moose, which I like to think was the baby we saw earlier.

​This moose was alone and eating its breakfast in peace only a dozen yards or so in front of me when I spotted it as it lifted its head to look at us.

The Young Moose S​ees Us

The Young Moose S ees Us

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None of us had any fear, and the moose slowly ambled off into the willow carr. My camera was ready and I whipped it out. The first shot I got was this one and I was happy.

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Brainard Lake

August 10th, 2015 · 2 Comments

For the past seven and one-half years I have been waiting for my best friend, John, to visit me at my apartment in Boulder. It was on February 24, 2008, that I bought a futon couch for him to sleep on in my living room. We have met here several times in that period, but he usually stayed in a hotel. I have also stayed at his home in California several times over the years.

But this weekend he stayed with me. John is officially retired as a pastor of the United Methodist Church, but it was as a pastor that he came here this time to conduct funeral services on Sunday for a former parishioner.

Today, however, John was free to spend the whole day with me, and we chose to go to the high country. Right at sunrise we reached Brainard Lake at 10,300 feet, and what a glorious morning it was!

While every morning is cold there, we had ample sun and unusually still air. In my experience this is one of the windiest places, but it had gone elsewhere this morning. The lake was totally still.

Brainard Lake Reflects John and Mount Audubon, Elevation 13,229 Feet

Brainard Lake Reflects John and Mount Audubon, Elevation 13,229 Feet

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​Later, Brainard Lake Reflected Me Too

Later, Brainard Lake Reflected Me Too

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When we arrived at the lake, John and I sat down for a picnic with my favorite cheese, Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk. Several Gray Jays — also known for good reason as “camp robbers” — visited us. One of them immediately showed its good taste in cheese by joining our picnic.

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White-tailed Ptarmigan on Niwot Ridge

August 10th, 2015 · No Comments

On Saturday I was fortunate to get with half a dozen feet of a pair of ptarmigan. I was a member of a group of six who had special permission to hike miles up Niwot Ridge above the Mountain Research Station of the University of Colorado, Boulder, on a tour of the Boulder County Audubon Society.

​The Scene of the Adventure's Start

The Scene of the Adventure's Start

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One of Colorado’s veteran birders, Bill Kaempfer, led the tour, which includes Sharon, two other women each named Linda, John Vanderpoel, who is a well-known birder who found 744 birds in his 2011 Big Year, which is one short of the record, and a photographer named Bob. Our tour leader had no difficulty getting permission for us to enter the restricted area since he is the university’s senior vice provost as well as professor of economics there.

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A Tundra Hike on My Birthday

August 9th, 2015 · 2 Comments

Most people probably celebrate their birthday with a big meal or with a party. But that’s not my style.

Until now, I have ignored my birthdays as much as I could, but the one that came on Wednesday was a milestone. I turned 80.

For weeks I had considered how I could most appropriately mark this event. Because the activity that interests me the most is getting out in nature on a hike, that was my clear choice. But which hike?

My favorite hike is the 4.1 miles on the Ute Trail from the Alpine Visitor Center to Milner Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is almost all gently downhill, except and the end where it descends steeply. It’s also one of the least rocky trails in the Rocky Mountains.

It starts at 11,796 feet and after 4.1 miles ends at 10,759 feet, so it’s mostly above treeline where the weather is almost always cold and often cloudy and windy. But August and September offers the best chance of acceptable weather, and I decided that this was my choice unless the prediction was for rain or snow.

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Crow Valley

August 4th, 2015 · 1 Comment

The 21-mile long birding tour is the best way to see birds and other wildlife in the Pawnee National Grassland. During a two-day camping trip ​there ​I logged 90 miles on its dusty roads and ​saw only three other vehicles.

But​ I saw thousands of birds​, nine pronghorn, and one snake.

​Camping at Crow Valley, I was as close as possible to the tour route. Mornings and evenings found me hiking the campground’s Trail of the Mourning Dove and touring the grassland. The hot middays found me in the shade of the six cottonwood trees around my campsite, either reading or napping. The cool but not cold night was perfect for sleeping in my tent.

Raptors are some of my favorite birds, and the first one that I photographed was this Swainson’s Hawk in full cry. It was screaming to its nearby mate in its strangely high-pitched voice.

th_hawk

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Owls are also raptors, and three times I stopped to watch several Burrowing Owls near the tour route. Once I found a family of three together.

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Above the Guanella Pass Summit

July 29th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Going above a summit may sound like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. That’s where I hiked this morning.

Just as the sun came up, I got to the trailhead at the summit of Guanella Pass, which is in Pike National Forest at 11,670 feet above sea level. I arrived at 6 a.m., but the sun didn’t reach the trail where I was until half an hour later, and my thermometer read 35 degrees, and the wind was blowing.

As I set off on the Square Top trail, I climbed gradually, reaching about 12,000 feet where I found a knoll overlooking a valley. Short of breath from the limited oxygen in the air more than two miles above sea level, I stopped, sat down against a welcoming rock, and meditated. I thought that the wind might distract me, but in fact it helped me to stay in the present.

This is a big country where you can see for miles, but all the lifeforms are small. It’s well above treeline, so nothing bigger than willow bushes grow here. The treeline here is about 11,500 feet, so you know that you are looking down in this image that I took from near the trailhead.

Looking East from Guanella Pass Summit

Looking East from Guanella Pass Summit

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The flowers too are generally small, usually clinging to the ground where they aren’t so much at the mercy of the wind. But I saw hundreds if not thousands of this colorful flower below, probably the tallest and certainly the showiest.

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