Saturday, November 23, 2019

Sheep Lakes - Eternal Shades of Pastel Blue

Sheep Lakes

A bitterly cold wind sweeps down through Fall River Canyon and the frigid air settles in a scenic gorge named Horseshoe Park. Scientists call this place a glacial outwash terrace, I call it a glorious gateway to one of the most beautiful areas in Colorado.

Ensconced in Rocky Mountain National Park, the gorgeous meadow was sculpted by a 500-foot-thick glacier during the last ice age. That glacier crept down the valley and reached its maximum extent about 15,000 years ago.

The powerful force of nature gradually retreated and as it did, the glacier released sizable chunks of ice and rubble. The dynamic combination of melting ice and strewn debris wreaked havoc on the thawed earth, creating cavities in the soft ground.

When the deep depressions, resulting from the event’s epic aftermath, are filled with water - they are called kettle lakes. These ponds are special because they have no surface drainage and the land surrounding them has been transformed into a natural salt lick.

Locals call this place Sheep Lakes because Bighorn Sheep, attracted by salt deposits in the ground, congregate here during the summer. They come down from the Mummy Range in order to graze on grass and eat the soil, obtaining minerals not available in their alpine habitat.

Horseshoe is a paradise for all kinds of wildlife during the summer but the winters are brutal as the park is laid to rest in a snow-covered tomb buried below picturesque peaks. At this time of year, the forbidding landscape can only be described by dead quiet and eternal shades of pastel blue.

One of the most beautiful areas

A glorious gateway

Winters are brutal

Horseshoe Park

A glacial outwash terrace

A snow-covered tomb

Picturesque peaks

Eternal shades of blue

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