It Was A Great Hike To Balanced Rock!

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My son, Greg,  is visiting from Santa Monica  for a long weekend and he loves to hike! There is so much snow in Rocky Mountain National Park that we decided to hike Lumpy Ridge, which is equally spectacular and there is no snow! It’s a great place to hike year-round because the snows melt very quickly.

We decided to do a hike that neither of us had done before. Looking at the map, we thought that hiking to Balanced Rock from the Cow Creek Trailhead would be a lot of fun. It was pretty cold in the morning , so we stopped and had a big breakfast on the way. It’s a good thing that we did!

We parked at the Cow Creek Trailhead and walked through the pretty meadows. After 1.2 miles, the Balanced Rock Trailhead was to the left and up the mountain for 2.6 miles. It was really pretty going from meadows  to woods, through a bit of snow and then over the rocks.  There were many ups and downs but it was not too demanding of a trail. The cut off to go to Balanced Rock is an extra  .75  mile off the main trail. It was really cool. When we finally got there, it was a real, “Wow!” Balanced Rock was incredible!

Greg quickly climbed to almost the top and let me do the “photo-op” thing. It was really cool and well worth the hike! We were looking forward to a good lunch when we got back down. The hike down was just as pretty, especially that we were going down. We got to the car about 2:00. As I was putting my things away, I realized that I had dropped my $100 Marmot jacket somewhere on the trail on the way back. Oh no!

We hiked back to the cut-off trailhead. We had already done almost 9 miles and I was pretty tired. Greg decided that he would hike up to Balanced Rock and then over the mountain to Gem Lake and then down the other side to try to find my jacket. Maybe someone had picked it up. That was an additional 6+ miles for him and most of that was uphill. He’s young and loved the challenge.

I hiked back to the car and drove over to the Gem Lake Trailhead to see if anyone had found my jacket and brought it down. Within 5 minutes, I met up with a man on the trail (who I knew from Estes Park) and asked if he had seen a  blue jacket. He pulled it out of his backpack! $100 saved! I quickly called Greg who was then at Balanced Rock and still had 4+ miles to go. Thank goodness for cell phones and that there is reception on that side of Lumpy Ridge.

We finally got home at 4:30 and were famished! A quick shower and then out for pizza and beer. It was perfect and well needed. It was a fun day but I learned my lesson…make sure that jacket is stowed away very well…and my name inside would’ve helped a lot too.  I probably wouldn’t have had the energy to backtrack for it. So, thank you, Greg! You saved me $100!

Is This The Kind Of Wildlife Message That Should Be Given To Our Children And Visitors?

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What does the word wildlife mean?  It means exactly what it means when you take the word apart – Wild In Life.  Wild means that an animal is out in the wild, not some animal that can be approached!

We teach our children and visitors to our town to not approach wildlife as they can turn in an instance and attack.

We have a photographer friend who was photographing the Elk (and was a very comfortable distance away from the Elk photographing with a 750mm lens.  One female Elk didn’t think he was far enough away and charged him.  He had to fend himself off for 15 minutes with his monopod as he was pinned to the ground by the Elk.  Fortunately the Elk didn’t jump on its hind legs and land on his chest with her two front legs.  That would have been broken ribs for sure.

Now, lets get back to this photogaph.  The golfers have decided to play golf, even if there are 100+ elk on the golf course.  They play right through the Elk while visitors and children watch.  The golfers scream to the Elk to move out of the way!

What kind of message does this give to our children and visitors?  Not a very good one at all!  When will the next tragedy strike when people get too close to wildlife.  Remember what the word wildlife means!

A Nice View Outside Our Bedroom Window…

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Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Estes Park. Unlike last week’s snows and frigid cold, it was in the high 50s and just beautiful. It’s hard to get used to daylight savings time…when it gets dark at 5:00-5:30. I had just taken a little walk before dinner along the river in front of our house and was walking back up the road when I practically bumped into huge Bull Elk. He was just grazing on my neighbor’s lawn…quite content. She does have beautiful flowers!

I went back home where Phil and I watched him periodically, making his way up the street. Would he come to our house? It was a Catch-22…we love to have him nearby but…he’ll eat all of our flowers, or used-to-be- flowers. They’re pretty well gone by now. He jumped the wall and was headed our way. He was gigantic, weighing about 800 pounds. Wait! There were two of them. Then they started play-fighting with their antlers, just like they do when they’re fighting for a female. They were both magnificent 6-pointers!

Slowly they made they way right into our yard.  I quickly got out the camera and went into our bedroom window and starting shooting away. They can stay in our yard as long as they want. So what about the flowers! Here’s what I got…Not a bad view from our bedroom window, huh?

Halloween Was A Happening Here In Estes Park!

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Halloween in Estes Park sure is a BIG “happening!”  About 5:00pm, they close down the streets and the shopkeepers get ready for a fun night. Thousands of people come out dressed as witches and goblins or anything they can think of. It is a night for adults as much as it is for kids. Shopkeepers stand at their doorways handing out candy to all. Pillow cases are full as the crowds swarm the streets.

Last night the dance repertoire put on Michael Jackson’s Thriller on  one of the street corners each hour. It’s just a fun time for all…whether you’re dressed up or just people-watching! This picture is one of our friends, Steve,  who sat in his store window (Colorado Homestead) all evening dancing to Michael Jackson’s songs. He was hysterical and probably drew the biggest crowd of lookers. And of course, Laura’s Fudge handed out thousands of their famous caramel apples to all who wanted to wait in line. It is definitely worth the wait!

It was a great evening…carousing the streets, seeing people we haven’t seen in a long time and just partaking in some of the annual fun of Halloween in Estes Park!

“This Is It” By Michael Jackson Is A Must To See!

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When I heard that our local movie theater was going to get Michael Jackson’s movie, “This Is It,” I was one of the first to reserve my tickets online. We got tickets for the first showing in the theater. How exciting! When my daughter was about 10 years old, one of her friends got tickets for a Michael Jackson Concert in Hartford, CT and treated her friends to the festivity for her birthday party.  When they asked if I would like a ticket too, of course I said, “Yes!”

The concert was phenomenal! Nothing was held back. It was the most incredible event that I have ever been to. Michael Jackson was unbelievable….from his moon walks, to the dancing and singing and special effects. It was just first class…all the way!

When I heard of Michael Jackson’s death last June, I cried. I felt like he was “on his way back to stardom” …just like the old times. He would have  a chance to “show the world” that he was still a showman and performer. So I was really looking forward to this tribute to the “King of Pop!”

This Is It” was absolutely super!  Michael is the ultimate entertainer: the singer, performer and showman. You can see his amazing talent in his singing and definitely in his dancing, but also in his  ability to orchestrate the entire production. The movie starts out when he is watching the singers and dancers audition for the concerts. And then it weaves through all of the acts from The Jackson Five through Thriller, Billie Jean and Beat It. It is fun to watch the new singers and dancers get their chance to shine on stage, whether it be a singing duet with Michael or the lead guitar solo. Michael is soft-spoken yet he knows exactly what he wants on stage and knows that he will get it.

If you haven’t seen THIS IS IT, put it on your calendar. It’s only in the theaters for 2 weeks. It is a beautiful tribute to Michael Jackson and what he brought to the world of music and dancing. You will walk away, still tapping your foot, saying, “Wow! That was just incredible!”

A Major Winter Estes Park Storm In October!

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We woke up this morning to a foot of snow on the ground…and…the forecast is for 18-36 inches by Thursday PM. Wow! A little different than last fall when the weather was warm and balmy! I remember wearing just a light jacket on Halloween night.

The weather the past month has been cooler and cloudier than we usually have. Trail Ridge Road, which usually closes at the end of October, has been closed for 3 weeks now. Guess we’ll have to get our snowshoes and skis out a bit earlier than expected!

Today maybe we’ll light a fire, grab a good book, watch a DVD or play a game, make that hot cocoa and watch the snow. Maybe the Big Horn Sheep will come down from the high mountains even earlier. That would be a treat! The good  news is that the forecast next week is for sun, sun, and more sun and the temps in the the 40s and 50s!

There Are Always A Few Who Are Left Out…

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During the rut season, the Bull Elks fight each other for the Cows. This can go on for 4-6 weeks while they try to entice more and more females. Last week, when we were walking around Lake Estes we saw a Bull Elk with his harem of about 30 Cows and several babies. No one was bothering with him anymore. He seemed quite content.

As we walked around the other side of the lake which is about 2 miles away, we saw this lone Bull Elk resting in the shade. There are usually many of these “single” Bull Elks who just don’t make “the cut” this year. He certainly was magnificent…a 6 pointer and all. We thought he was pretty nice. But….I guess the Cows didn’t think so….maybe next year. There’s always hope! In a couple of weeks the Bulls will all get together and spend the winter together while the females spend the winter with each other and their young.

The Cleanup Begins And A Sense Of Normalcy Returns To Deleo’s Deli In Estes Park.

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We arrived at 8:00am to start the cleanup in Deleo’s Deli. What are friends for if you can’t help a friend out in a time of need.  McDonald’s donated 2 large thermoses full of coffee, cream and sugar.  We thank McDonald’s of Estes Park for their generous donation to help people during their time of need.

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We decided on a system.  Tom would identify the products that needed to be discarded and Mel would write down the products.  I would photograph all the products for documentation and then all the products would be packaged up in garbage bags and discarded.

We all started thinking of all the starving people around the world and what a shame that food had to be wasted.  This food could have fed countless people, but unfortunately the food had no refrigeration as the electricity was off for about 2 days.

The gas company came by and finally the gas was turned on and heat started to come back to our frozen bodies that had been in the Deli for about 4 hours.

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We went out to Chicago’s Best Pizza and they were kind in donating 2 pizzas to the cause… and were they terrific.  By that time, the owners of the Mall that had burned down joined us for lunch, too.

The food had been counted, itemized in a spreadsheet, the electricity was on, the heat was running and all we were waiting for was the water to be turned on again.  We weren’t getting back to some kind of normalcy… if that can ever be accomplished again.  Some things will never be quite the same… and this was one of those times.

The Aftermath Of The Estes Park Fire. Life Is Still Good.

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In the above photograph are 4 businesses previously owned by 5 of my friends: Moosely T’s, 14’ers Cafe, Intrigue, Wynbrier and The Hiking Hut.  I used to stop by that side of the street probably once a week to say hello to everyone.  It seemed like it just was “The Thing To Do”.  Inside the mall were some more of my friends: Mountain Glass and The Music Box.  They are gone, too.  

I would ask them how they were doing this week (business sales) and then we would discuss the town and how we could make it a bit better.

Now, all that is still standing is Moosely T’s (on the left).  I just found out that her back storage area that held all of her products was completely ruined (water and smoke damage).

The firemen were able to pull down The Hiking Hut sign before it burned and all that is left (shown above) are the “Life Is Good” signs.  I bumped into Michele on the street in front of her store and she was wearing her “Life Is Good” sweatshirt.  She is going to rebuild… and even bigger and better.

We are going to help Deleo’s Deli clean out his food from his Deli in about 30 minutes.  He is ready to get his life back… as he hasn’t been able to move back to his home and deli yet due to the fire.  We will see him smile today as progress is being made toward back to some sense of normalcy.

I guess “Life Is Good”.  All my friends are still alive and optimistic. Today will be a better day than yesterday and tomorrow will be a better day than today.

The New Outdoor Eyes Blog Is Like The Falling Of New Snow.

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We just recently moved from the East Coast to Colorado and there are many things different in Colorado than the East Coast. But the one thing that sticks in my mind the most is that the snow is much whiter and cleaner.

On the East Coast, the snow falls in November or December… and the same snow remains until all the remaining snow melts away in the springtime. Plows place tons of sand and salt on the road… and the dirty sand and salt mixes with the snow along with the fallen leaves that have not been raked up.

This creates piles of dirty snow that melts and re-freezes along with the grey skies that remain forever during the winter months. Here in Colorado, the skies still remain blue and the black & white photograph above still indicates a more cleaner look than the East Coast during the winter months.

So… I look into the sky and look into the mountain and I am thankful that I took the chance and moved to Colorado after spending all my life in the one state of Connecticut.

Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park outdoor adventure and outdoor photography blog. Explore the RMNP Blog and the Estes Park Blog to discover ALL the amazing, hidden beauty that nature has to offer.