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

Mount Evans

June 15th, 2011 · No Comments

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Somebody told me that the best time to see Rocky Mountain Goats on Mount Evans was shortly after the road opened or just before it closed for the season. Somebody was wrong.

I wanted to see those mountain goats when they weren’t moulting. When I went there last August, I saw about 100 of them, but almost all of them were moulting.

The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is open only from about Memorial Day to Labor Day. The season is short because of the altitude. This is the highest auto road in North America, topping out at 14,130 feet.

The End of the Road

The End of the Road

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I didn’t see any Rocky Mountain Goats this morning and saw little else that lives. Very little fauna and flora can live above tree line, which in Colorado is about 11,500 feet. Few if any animals besides Rocky Mountain Goats, Yellow-bellied Marmots, and Pikas can survive at this extreme altitude. The only birds that regularly live here are American Pipits and Brown-capped Rosy Finches. And the only flowers in bloom were these Snow Buttercups.

Snow Buttercups Bloom at 14,000 Feet

Snow Buttercups Bloom at 14,000 Feet

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An American Pipit Chirps

An American Pipit Chirps

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This Yellow-bellied Marmot isn't Cowardly

This Yellow-bellied Marmot isn't Cowardly

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The extreme altitude means extreme temperatures. I didn’t get to the end of the road until 7:30 a.m., two hours after sunrise, but it had warmed up to only 36°. A 50 mph wind blew constantly, and the wind chill factor gave me an instant headache.

This is just a week before the summer solstice and quite a contrast to the weather here in Boulder this afternoon. Right now it’s 82° at home with an expected high in an hour or so of 84°.

But the total absence of clouds provided clear vistas this morning.

These are Indeed the Rocky Mountains

These are Indeed the Rocky Mountains

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A Chain of Three or Four Alpine Lakes

A Chain of Three or Four Alpine Lakes

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The only person I met at the top was a young man carrying skis and wearing crampons.

“Did you really ski today?” I asked incredulously.

“No, but the north-facing slopes have lots of snow, and I’m going there now,” he replied.
“I’m going to do what I can to have fun.”

I told him that I shared his philosophy. While we have a slightly different take on what fun means, I will continue to indulge my passion for photography. And I will return here before the end of the season in my never-ending search for beauty.

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