Saturday, May 26, 2018

Evergreen Lake - A Washed Landscape

A washed landscape

On a soggy, spring morning at Evergreen Lake, a steady rain came pouring down out of the slate-blue sky. The relentless drizzle soaked anyone resolved enough to stray outside in the drenched domain.

The surrounding mountains were shrouded in a dense mist that blocked the early morning sunlight. The water’s smooth surface was broken by raindrops that created small ripples in the silky reflections.

The pleasant reservoir was formed 90 years ago when Bear Creek was dammed just above the old downtown. This time of year there’s a furious deluge that flows over the modest spillway.

On such a dreary day there wasn’t much wildlife to be seen but there were some bird species that seemed to thrive in the wet weather. Red-winged blackbirds didn’t miss a beat and the Canada geese were out in full force.

Near the shoreline, a few fat goslings tried to stay dry by nestling under their mother’s outstretched wing. A colorful kingfisher buzzed about while a hooded merganser swam in the narrow inlet.

Walking around the lake in less than perfect conditions was a wonderful start to the weekend. There was peace to be found in the middle of a storm that washed the landscape and cleansed the soul.

A soggy spring morning

A drenched domain

Shrouded in mist

A pleasant reservoir

A modest spillway

Red-winged blackbird

Canada geese

Goslings under the wing

A cleansed soul

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dinosaur Ridge - An Earthen Hogback

Mount Morrison from Dinosaur Ridge

Down around Morrison, ancient crags are uplifted and thrust into the sky creating a dynamic landscape. Since the 1800s, this area has been a hotbed for fossil hunters as bones and footprints from all sorts of dinosaurs have been discovered here.

A thin slice of mountainside spans across this Jurassic Park offering magnificent views of Red Rocks and the sheer foothills. Called Dinosaur Ridge, this earthen hogback requires a steep ascent to reach the narrow crest.

Traversing the knife’s edge is a dizzying endeavor as the cliffs fall away precipitously on both sides. At the summit, a few pine trees have been sculpted into interesting shapes by a relentless west wind.

The lofty heights of this rugged escarpment is a prime place to watch for migrating raptors riding the powerful thermals. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a single bird of prey but I did see a mule deer, magpie and a few spotted towhees.

Up on the rim, the sun sears through thin air causing the climber to sweat with profusion. After the snowy spring, it seems like the heat has been turned on with a switch so I don’t have any reservation in saying I believe the warmer weather is here to stay.

A slice of mountainside

Magnificent views of Red Rocks Park

A knife-edged ridge

Sculpted pine trees

A rugged escarpment

Mule deer

And magpies

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Evergreen Overlook - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Evergreen Overlook" Colored Pencil

Out of all of the drawings I’ve ever done, this is one of my favorites. An ambitious project, the composition is larger than usual for me so it took a tremendous amount of time and patience to complete.

It was deeply influenced by master artists such as Benton, Kent and O’Keeffe. The arrangement was thoughtfully simplified in order to capture the essence of our mountain corridor called Evergreen, Colorado.

From the southern slopes of Genesee Mountain, the Front Range foothills are carefully unfurled. Filled with smooth gradations, the billowing landscape is shaded like a piece of wrinkled clothing.

The verdant mountains get gradually lighter and bluer as they recede into the distance. Crowning the rugged skyline, the snowy Mount Evans Massive is partially obscured by low-lying clouds.

The dead ponderosa pine is the focal point as a halo of reflected light glows against the darkest passage. The skeletal structure of the red snag is shown in striking contrast to the lively, green tree that stands behind.

In front, the golden shrubs are overlapping elements that are arranged across the page in an orderly fashion. The row of brush encloses a swath of swirling grasses that lay in all different directions.

Above, a scattering of soft, white clouds stretches thinly across the vibrant blue sky. The upper atmosphere is darker at the top and gradually lightens as it approaches the rugged horizon line.

From such an incredible vantage point the lonesome wilderness yearns for the visitor’s undivided attention. Landmarks like Bergen Peak, Black Mountain and Elephant Butte can be discerned upon close inspection.

The vast expanse of meadows, trees and mountains unfolds before your eyes. This part of Colorado is beautiful countryside brimming with water, wildlife and wildflowers. I’m lucky to call this countryside home.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Bergen Park - A Shaded Retreat

Bergen Park, Colorado

A sweet little preserve located just north of Evergreen, Bergen Park is an often overlooked stretch of ponderosa pine. The mature forest towers above its immediate surroundings, creating an eternally shaded retreat.

Thomas Bergen was the first to settle on the land when he built a log cabin here in 1859, calling it Elk Park. Soon after, a mining camp sprang up and the bustling community earned a stagecoach stop.

By 1915 the area was accessible by automobile, providing views of the Rockies, and situated on gentle hills well-suited for recreational use. That same year the site was donated to the City of Denver and Bergen Park was officially established.

Today, during the spring, wet snow blankets the woodland but the great trees are a study in resilience. Heavy pressure from all of the moisture bends the limber branches into impossible angles.

Morning after a big storm and the blue sky sparkles behind the crystallized conifers. During the melting process, the place becomes a robin’s playground where the birds pluck fat worms out of the black soil.

Paved trails cross-cross through the pleasant maze of red wood. It’s not a rugged wilderness whose beauty beckons but this park offers you a chance to escape from the urban environment and reconnect with the wonders of nature.

A towering forest

Snow blankets the woodland

A study in resilience

Impossible angles

Morning after the storm

Reconnect with nature