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

The Peace of Hall Ranch

November 24th, 2015 · 1 Comment

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At Hall Ranch Open Space early on Sunday morning all the animals that we encountered were at peace, mostly resting.

To me, Hall Ranch seems to represent the real American West better than any place I know in Boulder County. And these sandstone outcroppings are the epitome of it. When Sharon and I got to the trailhead just as the sun struck the top of these peaks, the day was cold at 28 degrees. But the wind was light and the sky was clear. We too were at peace, but were glad to keep moving and to warm up.

​Indian Lookout Mountain and Hat Rock Are Radiant in Early Light

Indian Lookout Mountain and Hat Rock Are Radiant in Early Light

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As we hiked up the trail we encountered far less snow and ice than we had expected from the snowstorm that had covered the land a couple of days earlier. But we saw many Mule Deer (which take its common name from their big ears) including more bucks than I remember ever seeing anywhere before. One young buck came within a few feet of us and showed no fear of us strangers, an experience that several other species of mammals and birds repeated throughout the day. Whenever an animal comes close to me as an equal like this, I always feel more at peace with the world.

​This Mule Deer Buck Has a Large Rack

This Mule Deer Buck Has a Large Rack

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He briefly stared down a rival for his female, but mostly stood stock-still. As I watched him for several minutes I wondered why. I eventually concluded that he was meditating, reminding me of one of my favorite poems:

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

By Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things” from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry.

As we continued up the trail, most of the other animals that we saw seemed as still as the buck — even this rabbit that stayed at rest in a prairie dog burrow for as long as we watched, coming much closer than rabbits normally allow humans to approach. While I have seen many rabbits as well as many prairie dog burrows, this was the first time I had ever seen the two together.

​Rabbit Rests

Rabbit Rests

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Of course, we saw prairie dogs. Hall Ranch has a prairie dog colony at 6,000 feet, the highest elevation that I know of, and I delighted when we again reached it.

A Prairie Dog Eats a Plant for Breakfast

A Prairie Dog Eats a Plant for Breakfast

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While I normally try to make my photos with the light at my back and on the front of what I see, sometimes backlight can be even more interesting.

A Prairie Dog Watches from its Colorful Meadow

A Prairie Dog Watches from its Colorful Meadow

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This prairie dog colony lives close to the trail junction. This was where Sharon and I turned around and took a somewhat different route back to what is known as “civilization.” We came across one more species of peaceful but alert animals as we returned. This Rock Squirrel is a different species from the Fox Squirrels in my backyard.

A Rock Squirrel Stands on its Rock

A Rock Squirrel Stands on its Rock

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Both Sharon and I were surprised at the number of animals we saw at Hall Ranch as winter approaches. Even the birds were plentiful, although harder to photograph. But I was able to get my lens on two species of them.

​This Townsend's Solitaire Lives Here All Year

This Townsend's Solitaire Lives Here All Year

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Nuthatches are always intense little bundles of energy, rarely stopping at one place long enough for me to capture their image. But this one jumped on a rock to eat a seed long enough for me. While its common name is Red-breasted Nuthatch, Sharon rightly says that this is a misnomer, since its underside is actually a rich rusty-cinnamon.

Even the Red-breasted Nuthatch Rests for a Moment

Even the Red-breasted Nuthatch Rests for a Moment

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After five hours on the trails of Hall Ranch, Sharon and I too were at peace. We could rest later.

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Posted in: Photography

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 John Bennett // Nov 30, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Just a thank you for the great pictures. And allowing me to copy them. I update and rotate them on my computer so I always have a new one to start my day.

    John

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