Saturday, July 27, 2013

Colorado. Bits and Pieces

Colorado Skies

Heading Home.  Colby, KS.  7/27/2013    I've lifted anchor and set sail for home.  It's been a great couple of weeks in the Rockies, but there are things to be done on the home front, and I must go, however reluctantly.  I love it out here..but I love it back there.  What's to do?

   There are leftovers in my camera files.  They're too good to let here's where we'll put them.  

   Larry Guss and I "lit out early" yesterday to look for pictures, ending the day at Steamboat Springs' regular Friday night rodeo.  Great day.  

   Looking for a big-eared deer?  I've got one.

 This one was foraging when we drove by..I don't know if it was curious or confident. posed nicely and then moved off into the underbrush.  

  Hunting animals with a camera is pretty easy out here if you don't get too close (never good with a bear or mountain cat, anyway)..I use a camera with a 300 mm lens, set to shoot about 4 pictures a second.  You can stand your distance and get your shot and everybody..including the happy.

   I call this one "The Water Snake."   The cattle stay close to water--in this case, a winding creek.   Fun.


  Steamboat's Rodeo arena.  

   If you don't live out here, you might not understand what a big sport Rodeo is.  More precisely, it is part of the social fabric and ranch kids start riding horses before they get on bicycles.  Rodeo covers many of the working cowboy's skills--roping, riding and wrestling (steers).  Girls start practicing barrel racing at a very young age.  It is the one Rodeo event that is almost exclusively female.

   It takes a real rider to make those tight turns..and a smart horse, too.

   Try that on your Harley. 

   As I said, they start young.  In some of the Junior events, there were riders as young as six.  This little girl got a ride in an early competition with the help of an older sister..but she made the circuit.  Notice how the horses are tethered together.

 Her time was a little over a minute.  But that's a start.

   Then the big guys took over in the evening show.  I'm referring, of course, to the Bulls and the Broncs.  Steamboat's rodeo is a combination of local riders and the pros, who come through town on the rodeo circuit.  It's held every weekend during the summer.


Man overboard.

   Git'im!!  Now, this is complicated.  The guy who threw the first rope has to get the calf around the neck (the horns and neck are protected by a helmet) and the guy on the other horse has to rope it around its hind leg or legs.  I don't know how it's done, but it doesn't always work.  Just sayin'.

 Going the other direction..

Ay, yi yi...

 Peer's grandstand..



This guy just kept an eye on me.

Ah, well...

 End of a pretty neat day.

Can't wait for next year.

Oh, that was fun.




All photographs in these blogs are copyright of Jim Slade.  2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Back In Cow Country


Steamboat Springs, CO.  7/25/2013:     If you take a bad picture out here, you're pointing the wrong side of the camera.  

  My old friend, Larry Guss and I set out for Routt National Forest yesterday, intent on nothing but finding pretty things to shoot.  We only quit when we got hungry.

  This is cow country..ranchers are getting hay in right now..mowing and baling huge fields that spread wide in the valleys.  Cattle feed in pastures high on the mountainsides.  The long views are spectacular, but the closeup details are just as wonderful.  So here's another little album dedicated to nothing but peaceful beauty.



  Rivers race out of the mountains over rocky beds.   On the banks, wildflowers soften the mood.  The red plant is called Fireweed..not because of the color, but because it's the first to come back after a fire.

  Aspens and pine.  Everywhere.

The more you wander, the more you see.  The hours slip away quickly.
Those are the Zirkle mountains in the distance.


   I jokingly ask people out here how they can bear to live among such beauty.  They just smile and roll their eyes.  In truth, the land exacts a price from those who choose to find a living here.  Family ranching is hard, year-round work.  The weather plays a big role, summer and winter..and winter lasts a long time.  But those I've met have never told me they'd rather be somewhere else, doing anything else.  


   We need them.


  Passing generations leave their mark.  This old homesteader's cabin was once the center of a busy enterprise.

                                  Now it just tells a quiet story.

Left behind.



    It's wonderful. 

    You'd like it here.  

    I'd bet on it.

Adios, Compadre.  

For now.

                                   Photo courtesy of Larry Guss



Monday, July 22, 2013

A Day At the Lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Lake Country at 8500 feet above sea level

Rocky Mountain National Park.  7/22/2013:   Back home, I usually don't huff and puff to get to the lake.  In fact, it has been my experience that lakes are usually in low spots.  Not so out here.  Lakes in the Rockies are high.  Generally an artifact of the glacier, they're like chains of ponds among the mountains--at least, that's how it works in this instance.

  My first stop after breakfast today was Bear Lake, a popular spot in the Moraine Park area.  Even though I got there at about 7:30AM, the parking lot was nearly full.  The thought occurred to me that I would love to have the amount of money all the cars and cameras in this park are worth at any given moment.  Talk about rich!  


  This is Bear:

  Check the scenery you can view from that bench. 

   You can walk all the way around Bear Lake at a leisurely pace--good thing, too, because you have to stop every twenty paces or so to take another picture.  At least, that's how it works with me.

   A Park Ranger once told me that any hike he ever took in the mountains was  two miles up and one mile down.  It sure seemed like that today.  I trudged off from Bear to the next nice pond, Nymph Lake, which, the sign assured me, was only a half mile up.  It seemed a lot more than that..but it was a pretty walk, nevertheless:

                        I love sunny spots in the woods.  Don't you?


         Nymph Lake is smaller than Bear..but it's got water lilies..flocks of 'em.

    These small lakes are bracketed by three 12-thousand foot peaks; Hallett, Otis and Flattop..and what that means to a photographer is reflections.

   That's Hallett Peak there, seen at/in Nymph Lake.  And isn't it gorgeous?

      Well, after all the admiring was done and all the pictures were collected, it was time to shove off.  Needless to say the trip downhill was a lot faster..and easier..than the trip up:

  Like the man said:  "Two miles up, one mile down."  

  I just coasted.


    I'm off to my friends, Jackie and Larry, in Steamboat Springs, CO tomorrow.  I don't know when I'll post the next Footnote..but keep checking.  Who knows what happens next?

   Seeya down the trail.



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.