Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rocky Mountain Highs

 "What do you see, Boy?"
"I see centuries, Grandpa.  What do you see?"
"I see God."

Estes Park, Colorado.  7/21/2013:   There has always been a spirit in the mountains that grips me.  It's especially intense right now.

   This is Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes.  Today, I surprised myself by walking, talking and breathing normally at more than 12-thousand feet above sea level.  The park's big trail winds through alpine regions and then into pure tundra, an artifact of the last ice age.  It is overwhelming.

   The highest point is Long's Peak (center left), topping well over 14-thousand feet, named for one of the early surveyors.  Famed Mountain Man, Jim Bridger, brought some of the first explorers into the territory.  Can you imagine what it was like for them to lay eyes on this terrain?   

   Just look:

   Think of the challenge of crossing it on foot or horseback.

  Bridger's contemporaries came into the region as fur trappers or traders.  Beaver were here in abundance, their dams shaping the flow of valley-floor rivers.  This lake is higher than that--it's at the Continental Divide at Milner's Pass, nearly 11-thousand feet.

   All this rugged grandeur has its softer side, too.  Wildflowers can be found everywhere, even at the highest elevations.

  Wild animals, too.  

  A story goes with this picture.  The two lane road that cuts through the park has turnouts for viewing the scenery..but there are long stretches where it is no more than two lanes guard rails, no cannot pull over.  So that's exactly the kind of place these beautiful elk chose to graze today.  To get this picture--and I was determined to do so--I had to stop in my lane, roll down the passenger side window, set the camera so I could view the scene through the rear view screen, and shoot through the open window, holding the camera at arm's length.  Nobody in the lane behind me complained..they all stopped and got out their cameras, too.  The Elk acted like they didn't know we were there.  

  Look at the muscles in those big bodies..and the size of their antlers.  Just wonderful to see..and wonderful to get the picture, too.  Happy moment.  I'm proud of it.

    The Tourmobile has covered a lot of miles these past few years, but it's worth every turn of the wheel when we see such wonders.  Comparables:  The Tetons, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce.  

   What's different, of course, is that I'm traveling solo, now.  I miss my Mary Alice more than I can ever say.  Being out in the kinds of places we always loved so much speaks to my lonely I'll continue to seek them out.  

   Tomorrow, I'm going deeper into the park to its grand lake.  We'll see what we find there.

   Stick with me.