Saturday, March 25, 2017

San Juan National Forest - A Faraway Land

San Juan National Forest

Sprawling across the southwest corner of Colorado, the San Juan National Forest is a spectacular wilderness. Consumed by severe weather, it's a faraway land featuring towering pine trees and glistening, white peaks.

Buried under a blanket of deep snow, the blue forest is a sleepy dreamland. Still laying low in the cobalt sky, a yellow sun radiates golden rays that warm the frigid landscape.

Bright light comes streaming through the placid interior, creating strange shadows that follow a rugged contour. The wide trail is packed solid, offering evidence that many others have come before me.

This high country embraces the snug comfort of a nice, long winter. Despite the region beginning to wake from hibernation, I find myself mostly alone except for the reassuring company of a pair of fluffed up Stellar's Jays.

A spectacular wilderness

Towering pine trees

Glistening white peaks

Buried under a blanket of snow

A sleepy dreamland

The yellow sun radiates golden rays

A placid interior

Strange shadows

A rugged contour

Others have come before me

High country

Snug comfort of a long winter

Mostly alone

Fluffed Stellar's jays

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sisters Pass - Perfect Solitude

Sisters Trail

West of Evergeen there’s a long ridge of rocky outcrops that divides Dedisse Park from Buffalo Park. The local landmark is known as the Three Sisters because of the prominent spires that rise out of the unique formation.

Scrambling the steep Sisters Trail all the way to the top of the pass is a breathtaking endeavor. During a recent evening-excursion, it was particularly dark and cold as a winter storm was approaching from the west.

Mired in deep snow, the forest was so gloomy that not even the groves of white aspen could brighten the way. Finally above tree line, a panorama of purple mountains and pink skies receded into the distance.

I was expecting to take an ordinary outing so I was surprised to confront such a dramatic twilight. Traipsing around the mountainside after dark is an eerie experience but if you can overcome your apprehension, you’ll discover that a certain solitude found only at night is perfect - just perfect.

Dedisse Park

Scrambling the steep Sisters Trail

A winter storm was approaching

Mired in deep snow

Not even aspen could brighten the way

Purple mountains and a pink sky

An ordinary outing

Dramatic twilight

An eerie experience

Perfect Solitude

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Genesee Bison Herd - Majestic Animals

American bison

There's a new trail in the Front Range foothills tracing the high, chainlink fence that defines the Genesee Park boundary. Every so often, a red danger sign warns the curious visitor to stay back at least ten feet.

Inhabiting this extensive reserve, a herd of scraggly creatures must be contemplated with caution. They appear indifferent at first but an unpredictable charge launched by one of the massive beasts could do some serious damage.

In the year 1800, 35 million buffalo roamed across the vast grasslands of North America. After nearly a century of senseless slaughter committed by commercial hunters, only 500 of these majestic animals remained.

With the disastrous consequences becoming obvious, the resilient survivors were rounded up and placed, mercifully, within the protective confines of the world's first national park - Yellowstone.

At about the same time, Denver was building a series of mountain parks to offer citizens an escape from urban stress. In 1914, the city purchased two bulls and five cows from that beleaguered Wyoming herd and introduced them into the newly created Genesee preserve.

Casually grazing just west of town, the Genesee Bison Herd features about 60 purebred descendants of those original seven. It's a privilege to be able to observe, so close to home, such a rare and precious animal.

An extensive reserve

A herd of scraggly creatures

They appear indifferent

This bull could do some serious damage

Millions once roamed the vast grasslands

Majestic animals

Resilient survivors

An escape from urban stress

Casually grazing

A rare and precious animal

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Blue Friday - A Subtle Thaw

Blue Friday

The morning after a dusting of fresh snow, the cold air is filled with an eerie silence. Diffused sunbeams stream through the clearing sky, permeating the forest with an ethereal light.

After slogging through a long week surrounded by a dusky landscape, clouds have parted revealing a blue Friday. It's a wonderful time to be in the mountains enveloped by my favorite color cast.

Swirling, pale pine are scattered throughout the meadow offering a fine foreground below Bergen Peak. The cool tones are usually reserved for a more somber setting but on this day, they express a joyful mood.

A subtle thaw has occurred as songbirds gradually appear and ice-covered lakes start to crack open. Enjoy the white wilderness while you can because the mud season is about to begin.

Morning after a fresh snow

Cold air

An eerie silence

Sunlight beams through a clearing sky

An ethereal light

Pale pine are scattered throughout the meadow

A fine foreground below Bergen Peak

Cool color tones

A joyful mood

A subtle thaw has occurred

Enjoy the white wilderness