We’ve been getting a lot of nice monsoon rains in Albuquerque. Things have gotten really green for the desert. And it makes the morning temperatures really cool for hiking. I normally don’t hike any of the Petroglyph trails in the summer because they are just too hot even in the early morning.
Since it had really rained good Monday evening, I got up at 5:30 yesterday to drive out to the west mesa. I managed to hit the trail just before sunrise and just before moonset.
With the cool morning temps, several hot air balloons were flying over the mesa. At first they were off in the distance. But soon they were right over the Petroglyph trail above me. It’s always fun to see the balloons flying over Albuquerque.
To add to the flying balloons, the sky was full of beautiful clouds.
Soon the sun was starting to peek over the Sandia Mountains. I love how the clouds cause the rays of the sun to fan out. It just warms my soul.
I don’t usually like to have sun flares in my photos. But sometimes they are difficult to avoid. But for some reason I really liked the colorful flares in this photo.
Scarlett was having fun running up and down the trail. There were loads of bunny rabbits out in the desert scrub.
I have posted in the past about this trail and have shown many photos of the petroglyphs. This time I tried to find some I have posted before. But I don’t think I succeeded in that endeavor too well.
My favorite parts of the hike are when you get to the areas where there are loads of petroglyphs. It’s so much fun trying to find them on the many faces of the basalt rocks.
Another favorite area is at the end of the hike. You come upon a few rocks that are covered in hand prints. It’s amazing to see a hand print from someone over a 2,500 years ago!
I wonder if the people that had 6 fingers were considered special and were made shamans. I’ve noticed in many of the sites I’ve been to all over the southwest, that a lot of the handprints had 6 fingers.
A came across several millipedes in one area. I had never seen them before. It was so much fun trying to capture some images. I even touched one to get it to curl up.
I was surprised to find there were very few birds around. The morning was eerily bereft of birdsong. I had to search to find a few birds.
I came across a pretty white flower. When I looked inside, I saw a tiny green spider. It was a real challenge getting a photo of him!
Scarlett and I had a great morning walk. The trail was beautiful and the air was fresh. Nature was really showing off her best!
After getting all rested up after hiking The Wave the day before, I was ready for my next tour. I hired a tour company to take me to a remote slot canyon that required true 4WD to get there. The road there must have had 2 feet of very soft sand that I would have definitely not felt comfortable to drive.
We finally arrived at Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon. Right off the bat it was just beautiful!
Scarlett loved it because it was shady and cool and she liked running up ahead and racing back through the narrow slot. I got her to slow down enough for a photo op.
The tour guide was amazing. He was very patient and knowledgeable in photographing slot canyons. The best part was that he would help me frame up a shot and then help me with the manual settings to capture the moment with the best possible light.
Sometimes the canyon was very narrow and sometimes it would widen up. I loved how it changed with each curve.
One of my favorite spots of the canyon was photographing this big log. I loved having this focal point in the photo.
Here’s some other photos I took during the tour.
Too soon we reached the end of the slot canyon. A Western Whiptail had fallen into the canyon and was in deep shade. It was so cool in the shade that he was very still. This enabled me to take a few fun photos. Afterwards I picked him up and carried him to a sunny area. He woke up then!!!
After the tour I realized I had plenty of time to drive to Zion National Park and do a hike for evening photos. I had picked out a hike that is not well known. I wanted to hike a trail that wasn’t crowded by loads of tourists. The trail is called Lower Pine Creek Waterfall Trail. It isn’t listed on any of the park maps so most tourists don’t know it exists.
To get there I had to drive the famous park highway. It’s a very scenic drive with lots of places that make you want to stop for photos.
At one stop there were loads of Big Horn Sheep grazing near the road. I didn’t have my zoom lens with me, but they were so close it didn’t matter!
The trail was short but beautiful. It headed into a narrow canyon along Lower Pine Creek. I arrived at the trailhead just before sunset. I was hoping to get some nice golden hour/blue hour photos.
Scarlett was thrilled to have water to play in. We had to cross the creek several times. We also had to scramble over large boulders.
There were several nice spots to take photos.
The trail was supposed to end with a beautiful waterfall. I had seen photos of this waterfall and was really looking forward to photographing it. However, this past winter was a very wet winter and all the creeks in the park were way up.
I got to this huge pond in the creek just before the waterfall. It was at least 6 feet deep. Too deep to cross and keep my camera gear dry! Sadly I had to turn around without seeing the waterfall (which was literally just around the corner from this pond).
As I was heading out I heard all of the Bighorn Sheep coming down to the creek for a drink. They were bleating loudly to each other. I looked and looked but never saw a one even though I could hear they were very close.
In early June I took a trip of a lifetime for a photographer. I have dreamed for years of hiking to and photographing “The Wave” formation in the desert of Utah/Arizona.
In order to hike to “The Wave” formation you have apply to a lottery and hope to win one of 20 tickets available for each day. Based on an average of how many people apply for each day, I calculated that I had a .001% chance of winning a ticket. AND I WON!!!
My hiking date was for Tuesday, June 4. I figured I was pushing it pretty close to the “too” warm weather to hike it comfortably. But based on average temperatures for the area, the high of the day was to be 84 degrees. Not too bad, but hiking on red sandstone was definitely going to be warm.
So I set out for southern Utah on Monday, June 3, and was going to stay for 5 days and see the sights around Kanab, Utah. This town is a cute, quaint town and central to so much desert beauty.
I try to see as many of our country’s National Parks as possible. I believe we should support the preservation of these sites that are so unique to our country. So I planned on stopping at the Hubbell Trading Post National Monument. This is the oldest operating trading post in the Navajo Nation. The trading post was built in 1878 by John Lorenzo Hubbell.
I couldn’t stay long but had a little time to see the store and the barn next door. The inside of the post had the original wood floors and glass cabinets. Sadly no one was available to show me the Hubbell home. This was a shame because it’s an 11,500 square foot home full of Hubbell Family heirlooms.
I was quickly back on the road. My goal was to get to Kanab before sunset so I could visit the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park for sunset photos.
The sand of the dunes is a beautiful color and the texture is like powder. It was very difficult to walk in. Scarlett was so happy to finally get out of the car and stretch her legs.
We hiked around for a while to find a good place for sunset photos. Tough climbing up the steep dunes.
We finally found us a good spot to wait for the sun to reach a nice level for photos. While sitting and enjoying the beautiful evening, Scarlett kept running around and exploring. Getting rid of the pent up energy after sleeping in the car all day.
Finally the sun started setting and the air began to cool. Once this happened all kinds of critters started coming out from the sand. I really liked this translucent grasshopper that popped up right beside me. He was only about 1/4 inch long.
At last the lighting was perfect to start taking pictures. This one was my favorite.
I had thought I could get nice blue hour photos, but the sand just turned dark and didn’t look nice. It would have been nice to stay for milky way photos but I was just too tired to stay up late for that. Plus! My big hike to the Wave was going to start early the next day.
I decided to hire a tour guide to take me to The Wave. There is no formal trail to take you there which made me nervous to hike by myself. I’m glad I did because I know I would have made a few wrong turns adding a few miles to my overall hike. As it was, I hiked 7 miles that took 5 hours.
I knew it was going to be hot so I got Scarlett a vest that held water and cooled her as it dried. It worked great! I also had her carry a lot of water to keep hydrating it.
We started the hike at 7:30 am. First we followed along the bottom of an arroyo. There were birds singing everywhere but I never saw a one. This was to be the case for my entire trip!
We eventually left the arroyo and started walking along a sandy trail. This led to a large area of sandstone that we had to walk across. This is when the views got so pretty.
The red sandstone was so beautiful. And the formations formed by the wind were stunning.
We climbed and skirted along the sandstone formations for a couple of miles.
I really enjoyed this part of the hike. Walking on sandstone is nice because of the firm footing. But eventually the sandstone really started to have an incline to it. It was tough hiking for a good mile.
Then we came to another arroyo. We had to climb down the steep sandstone and then back up another steep section. But at this point I could see we were only about 1/4 mile from the wave. That was enough to motivate me!
Finally I was at The Wave!!!!! You enter from the back of the Wave to the north and the Wave faces south. When I got to the back of the Wave I was happy to see a small puddle of water left from the recent rains in the area. Scarlett was happy too and wanted to jump in and cool off.
I made her wait until I took a few photos. She waited but you could tell she really wanted to play in that water.
I finally let Scarlett get in the water. Happy girl!
At first I thought this was the Wave and was thinking, “it sure looked bigger in photos I saw on the Internet…”
My guide must have seen my expression because he laughed and said, ‘This is just the entrance to the Wave!” Yay!
So I walked through that opening to the left behind me. And all I can say is WOW!!! It was stunning! So worth the hike there.
We stayed about an hour there at the Wave exploring all the nooks and crannies. I couldn’t believe no one else showed up while I was there. It was great having the place to myself for all that time.
There was a cool mini slot canyon next to it. The lighting was perfect when I got there.
I hiked above the Wave to get a bigger view. It was so beautiful. The swirling rock was just stunning!
The views from this area were so pretty. Even though my guide has been here many times, you can tell he still enjoys the views.
I climbed even higher and found a very deep water pool. Scarlett was ecstatic to have so much water to play in.
Sadly it was time to head back. The day was growing warmer by the minute. My guide offered to take me to another formation but that would have added another 2 hours to my hike. I felt Scarlett and I would do better to just head back now.
On the way back we finally started running into the other hikers that won permits. I couldn’t believe they were just starting their hike at the beginning of the hottest part of the day. I hope they all made it there ok.
Scarlett and I had a wonderful day hiking. We took a 2-hour nap when we got back to the hotel. Then I went out and had a fabulous steak dinner to celebrate. A wonderful way to end the day.
Stay tuned for Part 2 – slot canyons and a river hike in Zion.
I feel like I’ve been going a lot lately and haven’t had any time to blog. I’m still trying to catch up writing about my San Antonio visit last May/June.
While there I took the time to visit the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. The park encompasses 5 missions and an historic acequia (water canal). Sadly, the park didn’t open until 9 am. By this time, the best lighting had passed, and the weather was already hot as fire! Despite the conditions, I had a good time exploring the missions.
I did manage to get a nice pic in the morning light just outside the monument walls.
Mission San Jose
The first mission I visited was Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo. This mission was constructed in 1768 and was designated a National Historic Site in 1966. It had a large fenced in lawn with lots of buildings that used to house the friars that lived there.
Mission San Jose
Old well outside of the mission
The front of the mission has been beautifully carved. It’s amazing that these works of art are still in great condition after 250 years.
Front doors of Mission San Jose
The inside has been preserved beautifully.
Sanctuary of Mission San Jose
The National Park is large. It has about 15 miles of trails to hike and bike. I wasn’t about to do either in the Texas summer heat and humidity. So I drove to the next mission: Mission San Juan Capistrano. This mission was built in East Texas in 1716. Then in 1731, the mission was moved to San Antonio. It was designated at National Historic Landmark in 1972.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Bell tower of Mission
Sadly I wasn’t allowed to go inside this mission.
Following that was Mission San Francisco de la Espada which was established in 1690 in central Texas. It underwent several name changes until 1731 when it too was moved to San Antonio. This mission was added to the National Historic Register in 1972.
Mission San Francisco de la Espada
I was able to step inside the sanctuary of this mission. I didn’t realize there was a ceremony underway. You can see the girl in the chair up front in her white dress. She was celebrating her Quinceanera. A celebration in the Latin communities for a girl’s 15th birthday. I took a quick pic and left the patrons to their celebration.
Quinceanera being celebrated
I then stopped at the Espada Aqueduct. This aqueduct was built by Franciscan Friars in 1731 to supply irrigation water to lands near Mission San Francisco de la Espada. The aqueduct is still in use today and is an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. It received these designations in 1964.
The double arches of the aqueduct.
I walked down to the stream. Scarlett was so excited to see water. Before I let her play and get a drink, I took pictures of the cool fish gathered in a pool. There were lots of dragonflies about but very skittish. I managed to get a pic of one little guy.
Texas Ciclid – this fish was about 3 inches long. You can see little babies it’s protecting
After the aqueduct, I drove to Mission Concepcion. I loved the grounds surrounding this mission. It had beautiful palm trees and expansive lawns.
Beautiful old palm trees
This mission had a lot of rooms to explore along with a beautiful sanctuary.
Alter at the Mission
I hope you enjoyed reading about my morning exploring the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. By now it was 11:30 am and it was over 100 degrees F, and I was so ready for a cold drink, a shower and air conditioning!
Recently I was invited to a night photography workshop held near the Pecos National Monument. I have dabbled in night photography a couple times in the past with poor results. Mostly because my camera I was using at the time was not meant to do night shots. But also because I just didn’t know what the heck I was doing. :-\
So when I was invited to do a workshop that was going to be hosted by several people that were much more experienced at it then me, I jumped on the opportunity. I invited my friend Valerie to join me. We love going out together for camera time.
We drove to Pecos and arrived late afternoon. I had believed the Pecos National Monument was open until 5:30. But sadly, they closed as soon as we got there at 4:30,. Winter hours had begun. 🙁 We weren’t going to meet our group until 6 so we had a 1.5 hours to kill.
I decided to drive up Highway 63 to see what might be interesting to see. We stopped at an old historic church for a few brief photos. Usually these old churches are locked whenever I am there. But on this day, it was open! Such a beautiful sanctuary.
Further up the road we crossed the Pecos River. We just had to stop. The setting sun was glorious on the water with the stunning fall colors.
Next stop was Monastery Lake. I’ve driven by the turn off for this lake several times this summer without stopping. So it was nice to stop in this time. It was a small little lake that seemed popular for fishing. Lovely fall colors surrounded the lake.
Fishermen along the shore
We figured we better start back to the meeting place. But I had one more stop to make. I had seen this cool old garage as we pulled out from the church earlier. So I quickly pulled into the driveway and snapped a few pics.
I loved the patina of the paint
There were a couple of dogs in the driveway that seemed friendly enough. But when it came time to leave, they were determined to chase the car and run in front of us. I couldn’t go very fast for fear of running them over. We had to drive down the road slowly for a ways before they finally gave up. Whew! They almost made us late for our workshop!
We had to be at the meeting spot on time or we would be locked out. We were allowed to shoot at an old ranch that isn’t open to the public. We drove up to the gate with moments to spare!
After a quick meeting, the group broke up into smaller groups around the ranch. Valerie and I decided we wanted to go down to this bridge to get shots of the bridge, river, moon and milky way. Several of us went to the bridge – including an experienced night photographer. Yay!
We had to wear red headlamps to save our night vision. I took a quick pic of Valerie for fun. I thought I took a selfie but I guess it didn’t take. 🙁
Valerie bundled up for the cold night ahead
So we made it to the bridge, got some great advice from our expert in the group, and set up our tripods and cameras. We checked our apps to see where the Milky Way was going to be and pointed our cameras that direction. And there was a sliver of a moon getting ready to set. The sky was the most beautiful purple hue.
Beautiful purple skies
The sun set quickly and I took my first photo of the Milky Way. It was thrilling! I took a 20 second exposure with a 20 second high noise reduction setting. I was anxiously waiting to see what I got. And then it appeared on my camera screen. I was so excited to see my first photo come out so beautifully!
My first Milky Way shot!
The group then decided to try light painting the Pecos River. I have tried light painting in the past with OK results. I realized later than I used too much light to highlight my subject. On this night we literally just lit the river a couple of seconds over a 20 second exposure. I think it turned out nice.
Light painting of the Pecos River
We then light painted the bridge we were standing on. It was a little more difficult as the bridge was white. It really reflected the light. We only had to very briefly shine the light. Even then the bridge is pretty bright. But I like the photo I got.
Bridge over the Pecos River
We were really concentrating on the south side of the bridge. When I turned around and looked to the north, I saw this great deciduous tree silhouetted by the lights of Santa Fe in the distance. I just had to capture it with the purple skies and wonderful light. I was very pleased with my shot. We tried light painting the tree, but I wasn’t as happy with those pics.
By this time, several hours had passed. It went so quickly! We needed to move to warm up. By now the temperature was 32 degrees and we were getting cold standing still. We headed up the hill to the old ranch house. There’s this giant steer head sculpture on the fireplace. We took several exposures of this view but I wasn’t happy with most of them. This is probably the best shot I got.
By now we were very cold. It was time to go home. On one hand I wanted to stay longer, but on the other I was ready to leave. Those heated seats in my Jeep were pure heaven!!!
I had a great time on my first night shot outing. I’m definitely ready to do more!
Our last day in Estes Park. I really didn’t want to leave. There was so much to explore!
Dia said she wanted to sleep in. So Scarlett and I headed out very early to go birding in Moraine Park where I had seen so many birds before. It was a gorgeous morning. And when I arrived at the trail head, there was birdsong everywhere. Yay!
The trail I chose crossed a creek flowing through the meadow and headed for a rock outcropping with large pines and oaks. I figured this would give me a bigger variety of species to look for with the range of habitat available.
My first bird sighting was a Lincoln’s Sparrow. I could hear him singing among some dead trees along the creek. But it took me forever to spot him. He was very camouflaged among the dead branches.
Up ahead on the little bridge crossing the creek I saw several American Crows enjoying the morning sun.
Soon I was at the treeline edge. Lots of birds here. There were many House Wrens busy flitting here and there so it was a challenge to get a decent pic.
While photographing the wrens, a pair of juvenile Williamson’s Sapsuckers came over to check me out.
Juvenile Williamson’s Sapsucker
A White-Breasted Nuthatch was busy feeding above me.
I saw several Northern Flickers. For the most part they stayed a ways away. I did manage to get a decent pic of one before it saw me and took off.
Then I saw a quick peek of yellow. At first I thought it might be a warbler, but when I finally got a good look at it, I realized it was a young male Western Tanager. Always a pleasure to see!
A cute little bunny was feeding next to the trail. I always think they are so adorable.
All of a sudden Scarlett let out a low growl. I saw where she was looking and realized there was a coyote in the meadow. It decided it didn’t want anything to do with Scarlett, so it quickly headed off deeper into the meadow. He was between me and the morning sun, so I didn’t get a great pic. But I always love seeing coyotes. For some reason, Scarlett always growls when she sees one. That’s a good thing I guess!
There were several hummingbirds about. I believe they were all Broad-Tailed Hummingbirds. In that same area where we saw the coyote, there was a patch of Bee Balm. I love these flowers. Such unusual blooms and hummingbirds love them. I managed to catch one feeding but that low morning sun didn’t make for very good photos. Sigh….
Broad-Tailed Hummingbird feeding on Bee Balm flowers
Further up the trail I saw a LBB (little brown bird). That’s usually how I end up identifying sparrows when you can’t get a good enough look at them. This one caught my attention because it had two wing feathers sticking out funny. 🙂
I believe this is a Brewer’s Sparrow
I only got one butterfly photo the whole trip. There were wildflowers everywhere but very few butterflies.
Small Wood Nymph
There were squirrels everywhere. This park has a healthy population of a large variety of squirrels and chipmunks. I almost didn’t see this chipmunk as it blended very well with the rock it was sitting on.
To my delight a Steller’s Jay landed nearby and the sun was behind me! 🙂 This one looks to be a young one starting to get more adult plumage.
Out in the meadow I saw a flock of Red-Winged and Brewer’s Blackbirds feeding on the grass seeds.
Red-Winged Blackbird – female
I saw many American Robins while in the park, but I only managed to get one good photo of one.
As I was getting into my car to leave, I got one last photo of a Black-Billed Magpie. I love these birds. I’m so glad I was able to see so many of them and get some nice photos.
I was sad to leave the park. I am definitely coming back again in the future!
Dia called me as I was heading back to town. I asked her where she was. Where else?!? Starbucks! So I met her there and we enjoyed sitting by the river that runs through Estes Park. Such a beautiful town.
Dia at her happy place!
Before I end this trip, I thought I would share some of the fun and silly photos we took over the weekend. 🙂
I made Scarlett get in the water. She was not happy with me. I think the loud waterfall nearby was scaring her.
Scarlett didn’t know what to think of all the raging rivers and waterfalls. Even though she loves water, this kind of water was scary!
These marmots knew how to beg for treats
This is definitely NOT my husband’s Jeep LOL!
Dia photo bombing me
Dia enjoying all her pleasures
Kelly and her precious Scarlett
What I do to get that “perfect” photo LOL!
I just couldn’t get my new tube scarf thing to work 😐
On Day 3 Dia and I were up early again – ready to hit the trails for more beautiful sights. This time Dia got a GIANT coffee from Starbucks so it would last her all morning long. 🙂
On our drive back from hiking to Emerald Lake the day before, we saw a beautiful waterfall in the distance. I told Dia I wanted to hike to that waterfall. So here we were heading to Alberta Falls.
The trail head is in the same area as Bear Lake. So before heading to the falls, we took some very early morning shots at the lake. Such a tranquil morning. There was no breeze so the water was like a mirror.
The trail was in deep shade so early in the morning. It was a challenge to get a photo of us together (lots of work editing those shadows).
Dia and Kelly at Bear Lake
As we walked around the lake, the view started to open up and the shadowy areas began to lighten.
We came to one area that had giant boulders near the lake. Dia climbed out on one to get a beautiful view. A wonderful place for her to enjoy that coffee.
I climbed an even higher rock and got a very wide angle view. Gorgeous!
Soon we were on the trail to the falls. The trail started off beautifully walking through an Aspen grove.
Soon the trail started climbing and we could hear rushing water in the distance. I couldn’t wait to see this waterfall. I had seen photos online and knew it was going to be beautiful. We came to Glacier Creek below the falls. So much water! Not sure why it’s called a creek when it’s a raging river!
After a little while of hiking, we could hear the falls in the distance. The views were opening up and giving us more light on the trail. Then finally we made it to the falls. Stunning! The roar of the water was almost deafening. A wondrous sound to my ears.
Stunning waterfall. I love how the sun’s rays were illuminated by the mist from the falls.
We stayed here awhile and took some photos of each other and enjoyed watching the waterfall.
Doesn’t Dia look so adorable here 🙂 You can see why I love my friend. She makes me smile all day long.
Hmmmm….I see rabbit ears! LOL!
Scarlett wanted her picture taken at the falls too! 😉
My beautiful Scarlett enjoying the hike.
Then we decided to walk along the river above the falls instead of staying on the trail. For some reason the trail leaves the water and we weren’t ready to do that. I’m so glad we decided to walk upriver because the scenery was so beautiful.
We spent quite a bit of time in one area. The sound of rushing water and the privacy of the trees and being off trail. It was so peaceful and relaxing. We were truly enjoying God’s creations.
The water was moving so fast!
I tried to capture the feel of the water’s power.
A raging river.
We were still feeling good so decided to continue up the trail and see if we could make it to Mill Lake. We climbed higher and higher and the views opened way up. Then we came to a bend in the trail and started walking into another canyon. The views were so expansive. Such a wonderful hike.
I love this picture Dia took of me and Scarlett hiking. 🙂
We came to a sign that said Mill Lake was 1.5 miles ahead. By this time we had hiked 6 miles. We were debating on if we thought we would make it to the lake and still have enough energy to get all the way back to the car. We were somewhat undecided for a while. Then Dia said “Let’s go! We can do it! And someone said there’s a baby elk to see!”. Hmmmmmm…… I was just about to agree when a big BOOM! sounded and I looked up to see this giant thundercloud above us. WOW!
Giant thunderhead. Beautiful but scary when you’re out hiking.
That did it! I did not want to be caught at 12,000 feet in a lightening storm. No way! So we turned around and headed back to the car.
On one hand I’m sorry we didn’t go to the lake. It never did rain. I’m sure the views were fabulous. But on the other hand, I know if we had gone we would have been so sore and tired by the time we got off the trail. That would have extended our hike another 3 miles. As it was, we ended up hiking another 10 miles this day. We did 30 miles in 3 days!
I treated Dia to a wonderful dinner with wine for her birthday. We even had enough energy left to do a little shopping in Estes Park. It was a great way to end the day.
When we got back to our hotel, we had one more treat for the day. A mother Mallard was trying to take her babies to the little pond at our hotel. When they saw me and Scarlett not too far away, they flattened themselves trying to hide from us.
We all stayed still and soon the mother felt it was safe enough to go to the pond. 🙂
It’s been a little while since I posted Day 1. Sorry about that! Life has been busy!
Day 2 was my favorite of the 3 days at the park. Dia and I hiked most of the morning. We took a hike that passed by 3 lakes. Just stunning! I think it was the most beautiful hike I have ever been on. Seriously! You’ll see why when you see my photos. And trust me….they don’t do it justice!
We started out very early in the morning to miss the crowds and to hopefully get some pretty photos of the lakes. And our planning paid off.
The hike started off in deep forest with a slight incline. About a 1/2 mile into the hike we came upon Nymph Lake. A beautiful little lake full of lily pads.
Lots of lily pads
Fortunately there was a couple there willing to take our photo. Even though I had my tripod, sometimes it’s just easier to have someone take your pic. 🙂
Scarlett, Kelly and Dia
Scarlett was wearing her new backpack. We had her carry all of our water and snacks! 🙂 Being a working dog, she loved it. Plus, it slowed her down some LOL!
After Nymph Lake we started climbing higher. Soon we were climbing above the forest and the view started opening up. So beautiful!
Panorama of the trail. You can just see the shimmer of Nymph Lake below.
We came across the stream that fed into Nymph Lake. It was flowing nicely. I love hiking next to water. Just that sound of the babbling brook can be so peaceful and rejuvenating. Seeing as New Mexico really doesn’t have a lot of water, being in RMNP was so wonderful because it’s full of water.
Dia at the creek crossing. Neat tree!
Sweet little waterfall in the stream
As we climbed higher on the trail, it just kept getting even more beautiful. I was never bored. Every step was a joy.
We started leveling out and the waters became calmer. I figured we were getting closer to another of the 3 lakes.
At this point Dia joked that we were hiking to that snow in the background. Little did we know she was pretty close to the truth.
Soon we rounded a bend and there was Dream Lake. I absolutely loved this lake. It was my favorite lake of the entire trip.
Dia and Kelly at Dream Lake
OMG! This lake was just breathtaking! I could have sat here for hours. The water was so clear we could see trout swimming along the shore. Just beautiful! The picture below is my most favorite scenic photo from the trip.
Dream Lake – Just stunning!!!
Too soon we had to leave Dream Lake and keep hiking up the trail. Dream Lake was long and skinny so there was lots of time to enjoy it as we headed up the trail. Other parts of the lake were unique and I couldn’t resist taking a bunch of photos.
Such a beautiful hike
Dia loved this cool tree
Clear water and perfect reflections
Soon we were climbing yet again. Thankfully the trail was never too steep. So it was an enjoyable hike the entire time. And now that I think about it, Dia never once cried for a Starbucks. That’s how great this hike was!!!
I loved that from this point forward we stayed next to the stream. At times we crisscrossed over it. And at several points there were small waterfalls. Gorgeous!
What a great trail.
Loved the bedrock this waterfall cascaded over.
I had to scramble down between big boulders for this shot. What photographers do for a photo!
Finally we were getting close to our final lake and the turnaround point for the hike. We had made it to the snow that Dia had earlier joked about. Granted, it was just here and there but we were at around 10,000 feet so it was cool enough for some of it to stay even in the middle of summer. And what was on that snow???? A lifer bird for me!!!! A Pine Grosbeak. A beautiful male so pretty in his pink plumage. This is the southernmost area you can see these birds in the US. I was so excited! I didn’t have my birding lens on, but thankfully he was close enough I got a decent pic with my regular lens.
Right after seeing the grosbeak, we came upon Emerald Lake. A stunning high alpine glacial lake.
My favorite photo of the trip of Dia and I together. Such a stunning backdrop. Thankfully I had lugged my tripod along on this trip so I could get such great shots and pictures of us together.
Kelly and Dia at Emerald Lake
We stayed here awhile just soaking up the views. You could hear the distant waterfall. So peaceful. A lovely hike on a lovely day.
Dia enjoying the view of the lake and distant waterfall. Scarlett enjoying all the squirrels running around. She let us know where every one was…
Too soon we had to head back down the trail. Thankfully it was downhill the whole way back. It was interesting to note how different the lakes looked when the sun was directly overhead. I was so happy we got up at 5:30 to hit the trail early. It paid off with gorgeous photos and no people.
Nymph Lake later in the day
We were tired at the end of the hike. We had a snack in parking lot and talked about what we wanted to do next. Since we had just hiked 6+ miles we decided we wanted to drive around and see more of the park.
We ended up stopping at another lake – Sprague Lake.
It wasn’t nearly as scenic as the other lakes, but was still nice to walk around. Plus, there were lots of birds in the area. Always a plus!
Juvenile Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Cutie pie 🙂
Dia couldn’t believe I got this dragonfly in flight 🙂
My favorite bird on this walk was a Song Sparrow. He was kicked back, relaxing, and singing his little heart out. So Sweet!
As if we hadn’t hiked enough that day, I talked Dia into hiking from Sprague Lake down to Glacier Basin. It was a pretty little downhill hike. But I tell you, we were wiped out at the end. Thankfully they have shuttle buses running that were able to take us back to our car. While waiting for the bus, I saw a wasp carrying a large caterpillar. He was moving fast so it was tough getting a pic. But I was fascinated by this. That caterpillar is going to be food for its young.
Common Thread Waisted Wasp
After getting back to our car, we decided to drive around a little more. We drove through the giant meadow of Moraine Park. A beautiful area full of wildflowers and big vistas. And lots of birds! I made plans with Dia to let me get up early the day we were to drive home so I could go birding in this area before we left. I knew it was going to be great!
There are six Northern Flickers in this photo. Wow!
Black-Billed Magpie – no longer my nemesis 🙂
Brewer’s Blackbird male and female
Williamson’s Sapsucker – I love this pic!
There was one river that we crossed every day. It had beautiful rushing water. I really wanted a picture of it. We tried walking up next to it, but it didn’t do it justice. Though we did see this sign…
So I decided to walk back out onto the bridge for a pic. Much better! So beautiful!
When we got back to the hotel, we were pooped! While I was walking Scarlett for her potty break, Dia sent me this text. LOL! We had hiked 10 miles this day. Plus 10 miles the day before.
As we were getting ready for bed (at 7:30 pm HAHAHAHAHAHA!), I decided to take Scarlett out one more time to go potty. When I looked out, I saw Bull Elk right outside our room! WOW! Of course, I had to grab my camera and take a dozen pics following them as they grazed. What a great way to end a day!
Recently my friend Dia and I took a long weekend to visit Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) near Estes, Colorado. We have talked about going there for about 5 years. Finally our schedules came together and we were able to go. I have long wanted to visit this national park. The photos I’ve seen from there are just stunning. Water everywhere! (Unlike New Mexico LOL!)
It took us about 10 hours to drive there, due to the many stops made at Starbucks 🙂
Kelly and Dia getting their Starbucks fix!
We arrived at the entrance sign to Estes Park late in the day. Of course, we had to take a pic there of us in our matches dresses. 🙂
We made it! Don’t you love our matching dresses!? 🙂
There were several Black-Billed Magpies around and one was happy to pose for me on the sign. I guess they are no longer a nemesis of mine LOL!
We knew it was going to be crowded every day there as we were visiting during peak season. So we made plans to go to bed early and get up very early to beat the crowds. It proved to be a great plan as we found when we were leaving the trails that’s when most people were heading out. Doing this allowed us to visit the spectacular park with minimal intrusion of other people. There’s nothing more discouraging to a photographer than to have a beautiful setting for a photo crowded out with masses of tourists.
Dia has been to RMNP a few times in the past. I had never been before. So I followed her lead on what to see first. Her favorite drive is up Old Fall River Road. A one-way dirt road that climbs to the highest point in the park. When I looked at the map, I realized a couple of the waterfalls I wanted to photograph were on this route. Yay!
Our first stop was at the Allivial Fan Falls. This waterfall was created by a major flood due to a failure in a dam upstream.
Alluvial Fan Falls
Heading up Old Fall River Road, we saw so many beautiful sights. Everywhere you looked, it was a Kodak moment. Dia drove my Jeep so I could take photos. She loves driving my Jeep – especially off road. 🙂 At one point, Dia almost ran over a marmot who had no fear of the Jeep. Evidently he’s used to tourists feeding him as they pass.
Kelly and her Jeep (not her husband’s Jeep) 😉
Dia and Scarlett enjoying the drive up Old Fall River Road
I especially loved this little waterfall at the beginning of the drive. There was no formal trail, just enough of a path to view the water closer.
Further up the road we came to Chasm Falls – another waterfall on my “must see” list. What a beautiful waterfall coming through the narrow canyon.
Scarlett, Kelly & Dia
Scarlett loves water – so of course we had to let her play a little before hitting the road again.
Scarlett enjoying the falls in her own way 🙂
Soon we were climbing higher and higher. The views expanded. Just glorious!
Gorgeous views from Old Fall River Road.
We eventually rose above the tree line. Beautiful! We came across patches of wildflowers. Everything was so green – way different from New Mexico.
Just before reaching the RMNP Alpine Visitor Center, we came across more marmot. I liked how this one posed nicely for me.
The views at the visitor center overlooking a glacial cirque were truly breathtaking. The grasses were so lush and the snow provided a beautiful contrast to the photos.
There is a hike from the visitor’s center that takes you to a peak. It was tough going considering there was very little oxygen at 12,000 feet above sea level. The views from the top were amazing. I love exploring!
Trail from the visitor’s center.
Views of the visitor center from the top of the trail.
Dia, Kelly and Scarlett at the top!
After a brief stop at the Visitor’s Center, we decided to take the drive to Grand Lake. We wound our way back down the other side of the mountain. At the bottom we took a short hike to stretch our legs and enjoy the beautiful weather. I saw several sparrows in this area but only managed to get one pic of a Savannah Sparrow.
Such a lush valley of green
These squirrels found a good home.
Dia happy with her Starbucks! 🙂
This was the only butterfly I saw that day. Terrible photo as I didn’t have my birding lens. I believe this is a Mormon Fritillary
As we made our way toward Grand Lake we saw a turn off for Lake Irene. What a serene little lake.
As we left Irene Lake we saw a bunch of folks looking into the dense brush along the road. We figured they’d spotted something good. And indeed they had – a moose! Actually two moose – a mother and calf. They were a ways away and in dense brush, but I managed to get a couple photos. I’d never seen a moose before!
Moose with calf
We also saw some nice bull Elk along the road. One was really enjoying the good life of summer.
Very healthy bull Elk
Near Grand Lake I spotted an Osprey nest. It’s always a good day when you see a bird of prey.
Grand Lake was very touristy and actually not in RMNP. So we turned around and decided to drive the Ridge Road back to Estes Park. Once again we were in store for more stunning views way above the tree line.
Click, click, click….I took over 5,000 photos on this trip! Yikes!
I love the high alpine meadow flowers – so small and delicate.
Dia and Kelly
At one point we saw a nice herd of elk. They were grazing in the high meadows well above 11,000 feet. They have a very picturesque home.