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

Heil Valley Ranch

October 20th, 2012 · 2 Comments

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We never saw so many wild turkeys before. Several times in the past few years Sharon and I had hiked the trails of Heil Valley Ranch, which starts just 12 miles north of Boulder. I know that I had seen two or three of these big birds on a hike there earlier this year. I’ve also seen individual birds or small groups on Green Mountain, Bonny Lake, and Rocky Mountain and Mesa Verde National Parks. But today we saw at least 46 of these colorful birds, none of which seemed the least bit afraid of becoming our Thanksgiving Dinner.

One of a Family of 28 Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) that We Saw at Near the Main Trailhead (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 320mm, f/8, 1/3000, ISO 800)

One of a Family of 28 Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) that We Saw at Near the Main Trailhead (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 320mm, f/8, 1/3000, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Sharon left her car at the main trailhead to Heil Valley Ranch, an important part of Boulder County’s North Foothills Open Space. Then we drove together in my SUV 12 miles north to a new and little-known trailhead at the end of Pyrite Way in Lyons, where I left my vehicle.

We had discovered the Pyrite Way Trailhead 11 months ago when I hiked the new Picture Rock Trail for the first time. Sharon had hiked it earlier and introduced me to it. The 5.2 mile Picture Rock Trail now makes it possible to hike from one end of Heil Valley Ranch to the other. Last year we hiked only three or four miles from the trailhead on Red Gulch Road in Lyons to a spur trail that ends on Pyrite Way and back. At that time we decided to make the hike we did yesterday from Pyrite Way to the main (south) trailhead. Near the end of Pyrite Way we came across at least 13 more Wild Turkeys.

Three Wild Turkeys Doing What They Usually Do (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 260mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO 800)

Three Wild Turkeys Doing What They Usually Do (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 260mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Using two cars is the only practical way of making this hike, because even without retracing our steps the hike was 7 or 8 miles long and took us 6 hours. My new pedometer said I had gone 8.9 miles by the time we got back to Sharon’s car, but I probably had programmed it with shorter steps that I take on a trail, particularly since this one was often rocky.

We Got This One Glimpse of Northern Colorado's Well-Watered Plains (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 260mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO 800)

We Got This One Glimpse of Northern Colorado's Well-Watered Plains (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 260mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I didn’t write before about my first hike on the Picture Rock Trail. While I could have written something, until about three months ago I didn’t have any photographs to share. I lost them.

I well remember my anguish at losing these photos below of Sharon and of a bird that I had never photographed before. After searching what I thought was every possible place for the CF memory card, four months ago I found it under my bed. It showed up then and there only because I got a new bed. Now I can share my favorite shots from that hike.

Sharon Sits at a Trailside Table Made from Picture Rock (Canon 7D with 18-200mm lens at 35mm, f/11, 1/640, ISO 800)

Sharon Sits at a Trailside Table Made from Picture Rock (Canon 7D with 18-200mm lens at 35mm, f/11, 1/640, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge
A Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) near the Picture Rock Trail (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO 800)

A Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) near the Picture Rock Trail (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge
Last November was Colder than this October (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/5000, ISO 800)

Last November was Colder than this October (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/5000, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge
Last Year We Glimpsed Mount Meeker (left) and Longs Peak (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 260mm, f/14, 1/1600, ISO 800)

Last Year We Glimpsed Mount Meeker (left) and Longs Peak (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 260mm, f/14, 1/1600, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Besides comparing my two hikes on the Picture Rock Trail, I inevitably compare yesterday’s 7 or 8 mile hike to the 6 mike hike from Ute Crossing to Upper Beaver Meadows a month ago. Both hikes required us to take two vehicles and in both cases I had hiked both ends of each trail before, but not the middle section.

The main difference was that the middle section of the Painted Rock trail was easy, while Ute trail was one of the hardest I have ever attempted. That hike exhausted me, but not yesterday’s, also because I had learned some lessons.

My friend Dale reminded me of the need to take electrolyte replacements, and yesterday I remembered to drink a couple of ounces of MCT oil for quick energy. Except for some Swiss cheese that’s all that I ate after a small breakfast of 4 ounces of smoked wild salmon and two poached eggs. But it was more than enough because yesterday I never lost my energy.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dick Williams // Oct 28, 2012 at 5:46 am

    Hi David, This is really great! We have often talked about hiking up there, but never got to it. This will motivate us. Haven’t seen you in awhile. Miss you. Have you been away? How about lunch someday?

    Dick

  • 2 David Mendosa // Oct 28, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Dear Dick,

    Thank you. Lunch would be great. We have a lot to talk about. Please give me a call.

    Namaste,

    David

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