At the end of July 2018 my husband and I took a long anticipated trip to Alaska. I took sooooo many photos. It has taken me this long to edit my photos and post in my blog.
Our trip was to stay at a gold camp in Nome, Alaska. While Tim prospected for gold, I was going to do photography and birding. Yay!
We flew first to Anchorage and stayed a couple nights. We wanted to have one full day to drive the Seward Highway and play tourist. As it must always be in Alaska, it was cloudy and rainy. But we still went out to explore.
I got my first new bird while parking for breakfast. It was sitting on a light post. A Glaucous-Winged Gull. These gulls are quite large, much larger than the Ring-Billed Gulls at home.
As we left Anchorage, our first stop was at Potter’s Marsh. It’s a fabulous birding spot with lots of boardwalks through a shallow marsh. A very scenic place to bird.
While there, my husband Tim spotted a moose deep in the grasses. How exciting! It’s only the 2nd time I’ve seen a wild moose. Not a great photo, but still a great find!
I saw quite a few birds here. Most familiar to me back home but still a joy to see. But I also got some new birds – which is even more enjoyable!
Sadly, I saw a pair of Trumpeter Swans as we started down the Seward Highway. This was a new bird for me, but I couldn’t get a photograph. That highway is busy and narrow with very few places to stop. So I was unable to get a photo. 🙁
We did stop at a few of the pullouts to take some scenic photos. So Beautiful!
We stopped at one place to hike a beautiful trail along a river. Though it was cold and rainy, it will still so beautiful to get out and explore.
We stopped at a gold mine to see if we could pan a little gold. It was a beautiful place and I did find a few flakes. 🙂
We had dinner in Anchorage. While searching for a place to eat, we came across a popular fishing hole right in town. The salmon were running and the people were catching them one after another.
Sadly, we only had the one day to explore the Anchorage area. We left the next day for Nome. My next post will be about all the fabulous new species of birds I saw while staying in Nome.
Back in July my friend Dia and I spent a long weekend at Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I had never been there before, so I was really looking forward to a long, relaxing weekend hiking and soaking in the hot springs.
On our way we stopped in for lunch at the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu, New Mexico. (Pronounced Ab-eh-Q) It was a beautiful place to stroll and the lunch was delicious.
Purple Adobe Lavender Farm
Kelly enjoying a wonderful lunch
We also enjoyed shopping in the little store.
Shopping at the cafe
As we drove down the road, we decided to pop in and check out the famous Ghost Ranch. When people hear Ghost Ranch they usually think of the artist Georgia O’Keefe who loved to paint the beauty of the desert here. We didn’t spend long, but I did take some time to take a few photos.
Great old western wagon
Storms over Abiquiu Lake
Old hand-hewn log cabin
Beauty of the Ghost Ranch
As we neared Chama, New Mexico, we passed an Osprey nest. Of course, I had to turn around to get a photo. 🙂
Female Osprey on the nest
While I was photographing the female on the nest, the male showed up with lunch.
Male Osprey with a meal
We stayed at the beautiful Springs Spa and Resort. They have 25 different soaking pools that vary in temperatures from 96 degrees to as hot as 111 degrees. HOT! The hottest pool was called the Lobster Pot. I couldn’t get more than my foot in before I was yelping in pain!
The Springs Resort and Spa
After checking in we decided to go have lunch and let Scarlett run around a bit. Of course, she was thrilled to play in the river.
Scarlett stretching her legs after a long drive.
We ate at a restaurant across the river that had a great view of the resort. We couldn’t wait to get in those pools!
View of the resort and the San Juan River
Looks fabulous doesn’t it?
Of course, we had ourselves a giant margarita at lunch to kick off the relaxing weekend.
One of the things I really wanted to do while staying at the resort was take night photos. I don’t get many opportunities to do night photography, so this was a real treat to have a unique setting.
I first photographed the resort’s hotel. Such a beautiful place.
While photographing the hotel, a pair of girls were playing the outdoor chess game. I was thrilled they consented to let me take their photo. I think it came out nice.
Outdoor chess game under the stars
From there we toured the pools. The first pool we came to overlooked the resort. I liked that there were some people relaxing the in pool. I think they added interest to the view.
Soakers enjoying the beautiful evening
Here’s some other shots I got touring the pools.
Sunken foot bridge through the warm springs
I loved the travertine formations that builds up with the flowing waters of hot springs
I took a few shots from the bridge across the river and from the other side of the river. Beautiful with the reflections in the water.
Gorgeous at night
Definitely a special place
The next day we went on a couple of short hikes. I really wanted to see the waterfalls in the area. I never seem to tire of photographing water.
The views during the hike were spectacular.
Our first hike was to Treasure Falls. It’s not a very long hike, but really beautiful. Of course, where there’s water, there is always wildlife.
American Robin with a mouthful of moths
Northern Flicker digging for grubs
This year the southwest had experienced a pretty severe draught at the beginning of the summer. Because of this, the waterfalls were pretty thin. But I think they were still beautiful.
Lower part of Treasure Falls
My favorite shot of the entire trip was taken at this waterfall. I hiked all the way to the base of the falls to discover a tranquil pool.
To my delight, I spotted an American Dipper. It’s always a real treat to see one of these birds. I love how they dip and bob along the water’s edge and dive into the pools looking for food.
Looking for goodies in the falling water
The other hike we did was to Silver Falls. Dia was my co-pilot and was responsible for finding the trailhead. She led me on a one-hour 4WD goose chase!!! DIA!!!!! I was so busy stressing over the drive, I didn’t take any photos! LOL!
We finally realized we had driven past the falls. We turned around and found the trailhead. This was also a short hike, but very steep! We followed Silver Creek the entire way. There were small waterfalls along the trail.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to the main waterfall. All I can say is WOW! It was spectacular! I think it was about 5 stories tall! The sounds of the falls was almost deafening. I can only imagine what they would look like if it hadn’t been a drought year. Dia and I spent quite some time here enjoying the view and taking a few photos.
Lower portion of Silver Fall
Lower portion of Silver Falls
My beautiful friend Dia
Dia took a picture of me at the falls. I look terrible after a stressful Jeep drive! LOL! My headband says “Jeep Hair, Don’t Care!” 🙂
We spent the rest of the afternoon and the next morning soaking in the pools. It was sooooooo relaxing. We spent some time shopping the great shops on main street before we left town. We found lots of goodies!
On the way out of town I spotted a Black-Billed Magpie. I wish we had these birds closer to home.
When we drove through Chama we spotted a little foal in a pasture along the highway. We just had to stop and say hi.
Dia made new friends fast 🙂
This guy was so new he still has his dried umbilical cord
The drought was about to be over on this trip. The monsoons started in earnest on our drive home. I stopped to take a photo of the storms over Abiquiu Lake. Monsoons in the desert can be very dramatic!
Storms over Abiquiu Lake
All the rain made the Rio Grande turn red.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my lovely weekend at Pagosa Springs! I’m so ready to go back!
While in San Antonio last June, I visited the Japanese Tea Garden. It’s not a very big place, but it’s very unique. This site was initially a limestone quarry that opened in 1840. Many of the buildings in San Antonio during that time were built with the stone from this quarry.
Entrance to the gardens
In 1880 it was changed to a cement quarry. At this time a kiln was added to the site, which still stands today.
Old kiln door
Kiln stack and buildings
Such unique craftsmanship
Living quarters for the laborers
More openings for the kiln
By 1917 the cement plant had shut down. The City Parks department of San Antonio launched a program to convert the old quarry into a Japanese Tea Garden. Prison labor was used to shape the quarry into a complex that included walkways, stone arch bridges, an island and a Japanese pagoda.
Restored pagoda, gardens and pond
What a wonderful idea for an old quarry.
In 1919, at the city’s invitation, Kimi Elzo Jingu, a local Japanese-American artist, moved to the garden. Him and his wife maintained the garden, lived in the garden and raised 8 children. Kimi died in 1938 and in 1941 the family was evicted from the garden due to the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment of World War II.
Arched path built by prison labor
Such beautiful landscaping
Bridge to the kiln stack.
The Japanese Tea House up above.
For years the garden sat in neglect and disrepair, becoming a target of graffiti and vandalism. In 2005 the city started restoration on the pagoda-like pavilion.
The roof was rebuilt in 2005.
In 2007 restoration began to restore the ponds and waterfall.
View from the pagoda
Path to the waterfall.
I loved the waterfall!
All work was completed by 2011. The Jingu family members still alive returned for the public re-opening. In recognition of the garden’s history, it has been designated as a Texas Civil Engineering Landmark, a registered Texas Historic Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Walkway from the gardens to the zoo nearby
I am so glad this precious gem of history has been saved and has been restored to its previous glory. It was a wonderful place to visit. So peaceful and beautiful.
I loved walking these paths
If I lived here, I would visit often!
Scarlett enjoyed touring the walkways as well. She was curious of the Koi fish and they looked like they were just as curious.
Scarlett was fascinated by the curious koi 🙂
I love the colorful koi fish
I’m so glad I decided to visit the gardens. I would have been sad if I had never taken the time to see such beauty that has been restored to its former glory.
On Day 2 we hiked to Middle Fork Lake. It was a tough hike. You climb 1200 feet in elevation in 2.5 miles. Pretty steep and that was with switchbacks. But the hike was beautiful. We followed a stream called Middle Fork Red River up the canyon to the lake.
We started the hike at a high elevation of 9,579 feet. It was beautiful right at the parking lot. We parked right next to the stream.
The hike started climbing immediately. Whew! Not much air at 9,579 feet and it got thinner as we climbed. Scarlett didn’t seem to mind though. She was thrilled to be out on a long hike.
Scarlett and Kelly enjoying the hike.
The trail was beautiful. I had to stop off and take photos every time we crossed the stream.
Middle Fork Red River
There were little waterfalls all along the stream.
I loved all the big rocks in the stream.
After about a mile climb, we came to the stream again. And this time there was a big waterfall. Beautiful! I just love waterfalls. There aren’t many in New Mexico, so when you see one, it’s a real treat!
A beautiful waterfall
Rugged and natural
After taking a nice break at the waterfall, the climbing resumed. Whew! The air was definitely getting thinner. My legs were getting tired too. We left the river and it was just one switchback after another. If there wasn’t the lure of the lake ahead, I might have turned around. I hadn’t been on a long, hard hike for several months.
Finally! I made it to the lake. All of a sudden you top a rise and it’s there before you.
Middle Fork Lake
Well worth the effort of climbing to it. The lake sits at 10,819 feet. It’s a gorgeous glacial lake. After standing there for a few wondrous minutes catching my breath, I walked down to the lake and took some scenic pics.
Middle Fork Lake
To my delight there were some Gray Jays there hoping for some treats from visiting hikers. I had almost left my birding lens behind since it’s a very heavy lens. But thankfully I had carried it up the mountain. So I was able to get some nice shots of this cool bird.
After sitting and having a nice lunch, I decided to walk around the lake. Scarlett was thrilled when we came across a patch of snow left over from winter. She had fun rolling and digging in the snow. She was barking and letting everyone know how great it was. LOL! 🙂
Scarlett loved the snow patch!
I took a few more shots of the lake. I was going to try and walk all the way around the lake, but storm clouds were brewing in the distance. I figured I better start heading back down.
Middle Fork Lake
When I got to the waterfall, I decided to try and climb to the upper part of the falls. It was worth the scramble for the beautiful scene.
Above the waterfall
Above the waterfall
The waterfall was beautiful too as the light had changed since I had seen it earlier.
A wonderful part of the hike
Going down the trail was way easier than going up. We made good time working our way down. I let Scarlett have one more fun time in the stream before we got back to the car. She just can’t get enough water.
Scarlett enjoying the water
My happy girl!
I’m so glad I went on the hike. Everyone I hiked with was wonderful. It was definitely worth the effort.
Almost back to the parking lot. Whew!
Stay tuned for my last day at Red River. I will be birding in Eagle Nest! 🙂
I recently went on a hiking trip to Red River, New Mexico. I love Red River. It’s a beautiful mountain town with amazing scenery. New Mexico has been experiencing a severe drought. Many of our forests are being closed to safeguard them from forest fires. I think my trip was timed just before the Carson National Forest is closed.
I drove through Taos and was happy to see Black-Billed Magpies busily hunting for food. I usually get terrible photos of these birds. But on this occasion, I had a very cooperative bird and was able to get some nice photos.
While in Taos I came across several Rock Pigeons enjoying a puddle together. I thought they looked adorable.
Birds of a feather….
Flock together….and enjoy a refreshing bath
I spent 3 days there and thankfully it rained each evening. Hopefully they don’t experience any closures. On Day 1 I drove to Red River and met up with the hiking group at the Columbine State Park trail. This was a nice, easy trail. I climbed about 500 feet in elevation over 2 miles. The trail is along Columbine Creek, which is a lovely little creek.
Scarlett was happy to be on a hike and water to play in! She needed a good hiking trip. She ran and ran and splashed and splashed. But occasionally she used one of the bridges (after she ran through the creek!).
I loved how the trail crisscrossed the creek. It always fun to walk along water – especially in New Mexico.
Only rocks here to cross the water.
There were a few flowers trying to bloom even though we are experiencing a drought. Even a few strawberries were determined to bloom.
I loved the scenery as I climbed. The aspen trees were beautiful in their new leaves.
Quakies as they are called in New Mexico
I came across one area that begged me to take some creative photos. I love how the log crossed the small waterfall. I couldn’t decide which one I liked best….
I liked this area so much, I had someone take a pic of me and Scarlett.
Kelly and Scarlett
There were several small waterfalls along this trail. I’m glad I was wearing my waterproof hiking sandals so I could get in the water for fun photos.
I eventually climbed higher and left the creek below.
Scarlett ran ahead of me most of the time. At one point I didn’t see her so I called her name. The silly girl peeked at me from around a tree. LOL!
Scarlett hiding behind a tree.
I had wanted to hike further up the trail, but a storm cloud had been brewing while I hiked. At one point it started rumbling, so I figured I’d better turn around and head to the condo. Scarlett was happy to run back downhill!
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I passed a small lake on the way to the condo. It must have interesting minerals in the water to give it a beautiful turquoise blue color.
Eagle Rock Lake
Along the road I saw a beautiful little waterfall. I just had to park and climb down the steep incline to photograph it. Totally worth it don’t you think?
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Tune in next time for Day 2. I hiked to a beautiful waterfall and a lake!
Saturday, March 24, was Scarlett’s 3rd birthday! So of course, to celebrate we had to do something new and different!
On Friday my husband’s band played in Lamy, NM. It’s a little town that is basically a small railroad stop. A few of the residents recently set up an historic train car and turned it into a bar. The quarters were tight for the band, but it was a fun experience.
Vintage train car
My handsome husband Tim
Brad the drummer
And Bill is on base
Reverend E and the Vagrants
While watching the band, one of the locals told me about a hike nearby. They told me about a trail that followed the train tracks that led to a trestle bridge over a waterfall. Of course, I just had to go see that! What a great way to celebrate Scarlett’s birthday!
On the way there, I had to drive through Stanley. So I took the time drive down my favorite road there: Valley Irrigation Road. Since it’s between times for migrating birds, it was pretty quiet. But I did see a few local birds that hang out year round.
Northern Flicker female
Curve-Billed Thrasher – the breeze was ruffling his feathers
Look at the talons on this Swainson’s Hawk
I came across a Say’s Phoebe busily looking for bugs.
And he’s off to get a bug!
I saw some cute prairie dogs and some beautiful antelope too.
Prong Horn Antelope – female in the background
The clouds were just beautiful behind this granary. I just love New Mexico skies!
Granary in Stanley.
My next town was Galisteo. I drove past a Red-Tailed Hawk hanging out on the power lines next to the highway. I turned around and managed to get a couple pics before he flew off.
Hmmm…looks like he learned from the Say’s Phoebe
And he’s outta here! Showing off that red tail.
Finally we made it to Lamy. It’s about an hour drive from my home. I followed the directions I was given and eventually came to an area where I couldn’t drive any further. Time to get out and hike!
My beautiful Scarlett ready to go!
We followed along the tracks for a while.
Following the tracks
I love the old glass insulators that used to be used on electric lines.
Old railroad bolt
I heard lots of birds, but only managed to photograph a couple of them.
The terrain started narrowing from a wide valley. I’d never hiked next to a train track before. I kept wondering when a train might come through.
Soon we came to a narrow canyon. If the train came through now, there was nowhere to go! Yikes!
Scarlett is standing where the waterfall is below. You can see there’s nowhere to go if the train comes around the corner.
I looked down below and saw a beautiful sight. A sweet little waterfall with a beautiful pool.
Looking down to the waterfall and pool from the trestle
We checked out both sides of the trestle. A wonderful part of Galisteo Creek. I didn’t know until later that this area is called Apache Canyon Railroad Bridge Historic Site. There’s not a lot of information available about this area, but I did find out the bridge was built in 1908 by American Bridge Company of New York. It is also known as Spider Leg Bridge.
Scarlett looking down wanting to get into that creek!
I just had to get down there. It was steep! I slid down the whole way on my backside! 🙂
Below the bridge
Once at the bottom, I made Scarlett wait before I let her play. She wasn’t happy about this, but I wanted to get some pristine photos before she got water everywhere. 🙂 I think you’ll agree, this is a special little place.
I love this shot!
Finally Scarlett was allowed to play. She had a blast running and splashing!
Doing her favorite thing: running back and forth in shallow water.
Headed for the deeper pool
That look tells me she is enjoying her birthday hike.
The day was in the mid 60s and it was beautiful. Next thing I know, I’ve got my shoes off and enjoying the water.
Soon we had to leave. I have to say it was much easier going up than down. Whew!
One last look before leaving. So beautiful!
Not long after leaving the bridge, I heard a train whistle. Yikes! We got out of there just in time! Luckily for us, the train stopped in Lamy to let the passengers take a break. I was able to walk all the way back to the car before the train went by.
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.