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


July 18th, 2014 · 2 Comments

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Sometimes getting up at 4 a.m. can be worth the sacrifice of a few hours of sleep. It was today.

Sharon is back from her trip to northern California. She suggested that we meet at her home in central Boulder at 5 a.m. to drive up to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area for a hike around Long Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness just south of Rocky Mountain National Park.

We did. This is one of my favorite places to hike, but it’s so high in the Rockies that trails aren’t free from snow until late July, and I hadn’t been there since July 2012.

This morning was sunny, warming up from about 50° to the mid-50s by the time we left the wilderness. I needed the down jacket that I wore.

But first as we approached Brainard Lake, the central one of the five major lakes in the area, we noticed a half dozen cars stopped on the road. We knew that this meant only one thing: moose in the willows.

We jumped out and started shooting. The time was just after 6 a.m. The moose were close and mostly unobstructed by vegetation. With the early morning light was at our backs, it couldn’t have been better.

​The Moose Is the One on the Right

The Moose Is the One on the Right

Click on the picture above to enlarge

We kept on photographing the moose for an hour and one-half. First it was three older males eating a delicious breakfast of fresh willow shoots. I wouldn’t be surprised if they also eat the willow bark whenever they have a headache, since it’s the natural source of salicin, which is chemically similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid).

As they moved away, we turned our attention to three younger males between us and Brainard Lake. The lake sits at 10,500 feet right below 13,223 foot Mt. Audubon.

A Moose in a Meadow

A Moose in a Meadow

Click on the picture above to enlarge


Click on the picture above to enlarge
​Three Moose Graze in Young Willows

Three Moose Graze in Young Willows

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We also watched two female moose swim across Brainard Lake in the distance. All together we saw eight moose. Never in my life had I ever seen so many, so close, and for so long.

After the moose surprise, our hike around Long Lake was anticlimactic for photography. But I stopped to shoot where the lake ends and South St. Vrain Creek begins.

​The Headwaters of South St. Vrain Creek

The Headwaters of South St. Vrain Creek

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Here at the start of the 2.8 mile loop trail around Long Lake we are just 4.4 miles west of Isabelle Glacier on the Continental Divide. The hike gave us the physical activity in nature that we needed.


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Posted in: Photography

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gretchen // Jul 19, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I’m glad you clarified which one was the moose.

  • 2 Kathryn Alexander // Jul 19, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    David, that’s one of my favorite hikes too, but I’ve never seem moose. Lucky you!