North Crest Trail Hike and other stops

Last weekend I decided to hike the North Crest Trail.  It has been very hot here lately and that’s the coolest place to hike in the summer as it is over 10,000 feet in elevation.  I haven’t been on this trail for a couple of years.  Sometimes when you don’t hike a trail for a while, it seems almost new again.

Up until about 2 weeks ago, the crest of the mountain has been getting rain every few days – socked in with thick clouds.  But on this day, it was crystal clear.  Because of all the rains, the trail was very lush.

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Miss Scarlett blends in with the lush vegetation

It is a shady trail to hike in the summer, but still has lots of wildflowers blooming in the spots of sunshine.  There were lots of Orange Skipperlings flying about.  I managed to get a nice shot of one in a spot of sunshine.

The winter weather and winds of the spring took their toll on the trail in places.  There were a lot of fallen trees blocking the path.

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Lots of fallen trees – as you can see, Scarlett had a much easier time navigating the trail 🙂

I heard a lot of Ruby-Crowned Kinglets singing but never did see any to photograph.  But a House Wren made a brief appearance.  I heard a Golden-Crowned Kinglet but never saw it.  Which was disappointing as it would have been a lifer for me.

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House Wren

About a mile into the hike you finally get to see some view of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley 10,000 feet below you.  The photos are a bit hazy because of the Dog Head Fire burning about 25 miles south.  The fire is only about 10 miles from my house.  Yikes!

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Dog Head Fire as seen from the top of the hill behind my home.

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View of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley

I always seem to stop at the same point on this trail…right where another trail intersects it and it’s a big clearing.  I had hoped to go further down the trail this day, but soon realized why I always turned around at this point.  I’ve hiked 2.5 miles to get to this spot.  That means my total hike is 5 miles.  I could probably go further, but it’s almost all uphill on the way back…ugh!

Someone came walking by while I was taking the photographs above.  I asked him if he would take a picture of Scarlett and I.  I didn’t do my hair today because I was supposed to be wearing a hat.  But silly me left the hat in the car.  Ah well….

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Me and Scarlett

While in the clearing, there were lots of birds about singing at the tops of trees.  I managed to get a couple photos of some close by.

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

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Spotted Towhee

I was appreciating the abundant shade on the way back as the day had really warmed up.  I lingered in the aspen grove as it was so beautiful.

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Beautiful Aspen trees

On the way down the mountain, I decided to stop at Capulin Spring to see if there were any birds wanting a drink during the hot afternoon.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Lots of birds came by for a drink.  It was the usual culprits there except for a very vocal MacGillivray’s Warbler.

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Northern Flicker

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Dark-Eyed Junco

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Western Tanager

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

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MacGillivray’s Warbler

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MacGillivray’s Warbler

Just before leaving the spring, a Broad-Tailed Hummingbird made an appearance.  I notice they always want to drink right where the spring drips into the log.  Which is bad because you can see all the plumbing gets in the way.  Whenever I am there, I try to do a little maintenance around the log.  Clean up any grasses overgrowing the log and trim any branches in the way of photographs.  I also move the rocks around to hike the plumbing.  But somehow these rocks get shoved aside between visits.  I’m guessing it must be bears but who knows?! So I made a mental note after looking at my photographs to see what I could do to improve the looks of that pipe where the hummingbirds like to drink.  But here’s the photos I did take.  Still pretty as the sun was shining on the back of the bird making those beautiful jeweled feathers shine.

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Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

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Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Heading further down the road I decided to hike up to Bill Spring to see what butterflies might be enjoying the mud. On the way I saw I very pregnant Mule Deer feeding along the side of the road.  I clicked a quick photo while driving by.

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There were lots of butterflies flying about at the spring.

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Weidemeyer’s Admiral

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Question Mark

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California Sister

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Underside of California Sister

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Red Admiral

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Silver-Spotted Skipper

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Clouded Sulpher

There were a few birds that made an appearance at the spring as well.  The chipping sparrow was there the whole time gorging himself on all the bugs flying about the water’s edge.

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Chipping Sparrow

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American Robin

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Black-Headed Grosbeak

By this time I had hiked 7 miles.  Scarlett was pooped!  She napped the whole time I was photographing butterflies at Bill Spring.  She was a very happy dog! It was a very fun day!

 

 

Trip to Denver – Part 1: Bishop’s Castle

Last weekend Valerie and I drove to Denver for a Scrapbook Expo.  We left early so we could see the sights along the way.

We both had always wanted to see Bishop’s Castle in the mountains outside Colorado Springs. It is a very unique place to see.  The builder works iron as a hobby.  Since the 1970s he has been transforming scrap iron into a castle structure.  Anyone can visit at anytime but you climb at your own risk.

As we drove into the San Isabel forest we were delighted to see the aspen trees were turning. So of course we had to stop for photo op.

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Kelly and Valerie

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Gotta love a selfie 🙂

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Me 🙂

As we drove up the road we came upon Lake Isabel. It was a stunning mountain lake.  I so enjoy photographing scenic lakes! This one was extra nice with the fall colors.

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Lake Isabel

After the lake we finally made it to Bishop’s Castle.  It’s literally on the side of the road.  We couldn’t wait to explore!

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I first started by climbing these steep stairs to the 2nd floor.  I never thought I had a fear of heights. But let me tell you….this place scared me!  Most of the time you are walking on expanded metal flooring. So you can see through it….all the way down…yikes!

The 2nd floor was beautiful.  I loved the ceiling and all the windows.

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From this floor you can access the several turrets and wrap around walkways. From one of these outside walkways we could see the dragon clearly.

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View looking up roofline to a turret and scary walkway

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Castle dragon made from fireproof tiles

Valerie was much more brave than me…look how she trusts that flimsy walkway!?!  Yeah….that looks really secure since that rope railing is there…….right……

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My crazy friend!

After walking the outside walkways we decided to climb a turret.  The steps inside were OK because I could hang on to something while I climbed so I felt pretty good until we climbed up to the top and looked down….oh my….

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Valerie on turret steps

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Yikes!

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Looking up stairwell in turret