Showing posts from August, 2013

The Plains Lighthouse - A Beacon of Hope in Western Nebraska

Lake Minatare Lighthouse Western Nebraska is known for its corn, cattle and lighthouses. Well, at least one lighthouse. The Plains Lighthouse is situated on Lake Minatare's Lakeview Point Peninsula. The 4-story structure was built towards the end of the Great Depression by the Veterans Conservation Corps, a new deal agency that provided jobs to unemployed veterans. For people in the area, the unique landmark became a beacon of hope during darker times. The 55-foot tower rises above the rolling prairie and offers spectacular, panoramic views of the lake and scenic river valley. The lighthouse is mostly about form and not functional. There is no actual light so it doesn't provide navigational aide to boats out on the water. It's built entirely from native stone and the maritime design, complete with spiral staircase, is a faithful reproduction of our nation's coastal guards. The Cornhusker version is a combination shelter house and observation tower only. Neverth

The Gray Jay - A Legendary Thief of Hearts

The mischievous gray jay The formidable Rocky Mountains are an imposing hideout for one of Colorado's most notorious outlaws, the gray jay. Upon entering its dark territory of spruce and fir, beware because this legendary camp robber isn't afraid to steal your food, your patience or your heart. Blessed with boundless curiosity, the gray jay will investigate even the slightest disturbance in a subalpine forest. It scrutinizes the camper intensely and follows the hiker closely, waiting to see what happens next. If you offer one of them a bite of food, they will boldly pluck the treat right out of your hand. You'll also acquire a friend for life. Early fur traders appreciated the gray jay's companionship during lonely treks into the outback but they resented the bird's relentless thievery. The jays were experts at stealing the bait from their snares, often committing the crime before the trapper had turned his back. The gray jay will consume anything that

Chief Mountain - Access to a Wonderful World

Ancient bristlecone pines are guardians of the alpine tundra "The heavens seem to be nearer the earth. The elements are less reserved and distinct. Water turns to ice, rain to snow. The day is but a Scandinavian night. The winter is an arctic summer." ~ Henry David Thoreau Located above Squaw Pass Road in the foothills of Colorado's Front Range, Chief Mountain rises above the surrounding valleys to offer spectacular scenery from its rocky summit. The panoramic views begin with Mount Evans and the Continental Divide to the west, Longs Peak looms to the north and massive Pikes Peak can be seen to the south. Eastward you'll see Squaw Peak and the Evergreen Mountains. What makes Chief Mountain special is its unique access to the wonderful world above the trees. After a quick hike through a dense forest of spruce and fir, the trees become stunted and windblown. Rare bristlecone pines are ancient guardians of this incredible ecosystem. The alpine tundra is a stunnin

Mount Sneffels - Queen of the San Juans

Mount Sneffels is the Queen of the San Juan Mountains At the Dallas Divide, a restrained landscape of lower hay fields gives way to riotous slopes of quaking aspen and colorful wildflowers. Rising above tree line is a sweep of rugged terrain composed of banded layers of rock, steep crags and serrated ridges. Positioned majestically amongst these enormous peaks is the "Queen of the San Juans". Mount Sneffels is one of the most beautiful peaks in Colorado. The diamond-shaped, east face of Longs Peak is spectacular and the Maroon Bells are picture-perfect, but my favorite mountain is Sneffels. The odd name comes from the Hayden Survey of 1874. They thought the peak resembled the Icelandic, Snaefell volcano featured in Jules Verne's novel Journey to the Center of the Earth . My two brothers and I reached the top of the world when we summited Mount Sneffels a few years ago. We bypassed the standard route that ascends a steep, scree-filled gully. Instead, we chose to s

Yankee Boy Basin - An Incredible Journey

Incredible Yankee Boy Basin "Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking stick". ~ JRR Tolkien In a land far, far away there exists such a place. An ancient volcano has been sculpted into a castle of pinnacles and spires. A ring of peaks with names like Teakettle, Cirque, Kismet, Gilpin, Stony and Potosi encloses a magical, green passageway. Famous for its turquoise lakes and sparkling waterfalls, the alpine garden is bursting with dazzling wildflowers. Mount Sneffels looms over the valley as the undisputed ruler of an extraordinary kingdom. The rigid monarch forms an imposing barrier between paradise and reality. A clear blue sky gives way to afternoon rain showers. Thunder demands the traveler must leave. The incredible journey has come to an end so it's time to return to our shire. As gray clouds draw near a