Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Wapiti's World - Elk Calves

Elk Calves

Rocky Mountain Elk are the undisputed symbol of Evergreen, Colorado where they roam freely from one end of the community to the other. Their annual movements are synchronized with the seasons, becoming an integral part of the natural rhythm of life that exists in the Front Range Mountains.

Yearly events staged by the local weather, flora and fauna are predictable benchmarks offering some comfort during these uncertain times. Trustworthy examples featuring all kinds of wildlife occur like clockwork and sometimes the display is quite spectacular.

The great elk rut in the fall is one such spectacle when massive bulls fight for possession of a harem of breeding cows. During the winter, the herd congregates en masse while struggling to survive harsh conditions worsened by deep snow, frigid temperatures and a meager food supply.

Returning in the spring, the haggard animals look gaunt and shaggy but after a few weeks of gorging on fresh grass, their form becomes sleek and well-nourished. This is when the pregnant cows break from the group and give birth to rambunctious little ones.

By the middle of summer, the elk population explodes with the sudden arrival of so many white-spotted calves. Unable to stay still, the babies are up and moving almost immediately, exploring their wondrous surroundings.

Just like any happy kid, they squeal with delight - running, kicking and bucking while playing in a field of tall grass. Craving some much needed rest, the exhausted mothers are remarkably tolerant of the childish antics that swirl around them.

As the elk calves grow stronger, the cycle continues and soon the bulls’ haunting calls will fill the air, foretelling the first snow. Disheartening as it may be with the planet currently turned upside down, it’s nice to know that the wapiti’s world remains the same.

Middle of summer

Wondrous surroundings

Unable to stay still

Undisputed symbol of Evergreen

Annual movements

Happy kids

The population explodes

A predictable benchmark

White-spotted calves

Rambunctious little ones

The mothers are tolerant

Childish antics

A trustworthy example

The cycle continues

The wapiti's world remains the same

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Mountain Basin, Summer - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Mountain Basin, Summer" Colored Pencil

This unforgettable landscape is located in Colorado’s southwestern mountains where during the summer, winter snowmelt is washed through a deep basin. The tapestry of varied terrain is a fantasyland featuring willows, wildflowers and a dazzling waterfall.

Soaring over the incredible scene, jagged peaks possess a pinkish hue in the afternoon’s soft ambiance. The mellow light creates elongated shadows that define the fantastic shapes inhabiting the scenic valley.

The luminous blue sky is reflected in the thread of clear creek that carves a pathway through dense underbrush. A precipice of golden cliffs forms a steep stairwell that descends all the way down to the water’s edge.

Slabs of white snow still cling to the rock wall that encloses the wondrous canyon, betraying the fleeting nature of the dry season. Before long, the moraine will be concealed under a thick layer of glacial ice but this sketch is a sensitive reminder of a joyful, summer evening spent in the San Juans.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Bergen Gulch - A Discreet Wetland

Bergen Gulch

Settled below the southern slopes of Bergen Peak, Bergen Gulch is a discreet wetland that supports flowers, birds and wildlife. This time of year the cattails are beginning to ripen and the lupine are in full bloom so blackbirds and elk engage in a territorial dispute over the bountiful land.

Filling the discreet ravine, the large-leaved lupine are massive plants whose ladder-like blossoms climb towards the sky. The hungry wapiti are anything but gentle as they tromp through the purple field, consuming a huge swath in a single sitting.

The little red-wings have fledged so while they’re learning to fly, their protective parents aggressively dive-bomb anyone who happens to wander into the area. The conglomeration of chickadees, juncos and nuthatches is small but noisy as the busy birds scour the ponderosa pine for anything edible.

Branching off from Bergen Peak’s most beautiful side, the muddy drainage, depending on the season, varies from a trickle to a deluge. The small valley is surrounded by steep hills, littered with fallen logs and broken by rocky ground, making nimble footing a necessity.

After the chaos of completing another week, the serenity from spending time in nature is sought but there is difficulty finding somewhere secluded. During the summer, when the main parks are occupied by lots of people, this place always seems to be pretty quiet.

Southern slopes of Bergen Peak

A discreet wetland

Lupine are in full bloom


Massive plants

Ladder-like blossoms

Elk territory

Bountiful land

Hungry wapiti

Spending time in nature

In a purple field

The place is pretty quiet

Consuming a huge swath