LIfe at High Altitude in Colorado

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.

-Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Moose on the Loose!

"trimming" my willow bush behind the garden

It's mating season for moose.
This week, we've had many different moose visiting our property.

One threesome, a cow, her yearling calf, and a bull
stayed for hours resting, ruminating, and making eyes at each other.

Moose love is in the air.
Hormones are raging!

Bull approaching female

The dapper bull had sex on his mind.
He approached the female to sniff.
Raising his snout as high into the air as possible, he groaned loudly.
She turned to face him, rubbed his neck with her head, and squealed.
The calf stood to the side watching quietly.
Obviously, the yearling will soon be on its own if Mama gets pregnant.

I thought the act was going to happen right in front of me!
But, the cow decided at the last minute she needed more courting.
As she moved away, the bull followed looking dejected.
Actually, moose always look sad!
It's that huge nose that gives them a hang-dog appearance.

These are BIG herbivorous animals, between 800 and 1500 lbs (400-700 kg).
They have no upper front teeth.
They use their lips and rough tongue to strip branches and leaves.
They gnaw on aspen bark, scraping it off along their back incisors. 

We like seeing the moose, but they're destructive to trees and bushes.
They've effectively "mowed" all my seed heads in the garden.
They "trimmed" my dogwood and willow bushes.
When they start snacking on the aspens, we draw the line.
We clang pots together, stomp on our deck, yell, and wave dish cloths
so they get the idea we want them to move away from the trees.

the calf is sticking its tongue out at us!

They generally just look at us as if we're tiny gnats disturbing their peace of mind.
Finally, in their own good time, they move into the forest to graze elsewhere.

female looks up as I come down the raod

I met a young female while on my walk yesterday.
She looked at me and flicked her ears but kept grazing.
I immediately turned and moved away from her.
In mating season, tempers can flare.
I'm not testing my mettle against a moose's! 


Here's a short video of the threesome when I thought the bull was going to have his way with the female. You can see him caressing her rump with his head. She decided to be coy at the last minute. However, judging from all her flirting, I have a feeling he eventually had his way with her.

Never get close to a moose.
They will attack if they feel threatened.
They have sharp hooves and can kick forward, backward, and sideways.
When taking these close-up shots, I was on my deck with the back door open,
ready to make a quick escape if necessary.

Saturday's Critters

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Still Eating Plant-Based and Still Walking

I've never spent so much time in the kitchen in my life.
(Well, maybe on holidays...)

The new plant-based diet is time-consuming.
I spend twice as long at the market gathering ingredients.
Where the heck is the Miso?
I'm chopping, marinating, grating, and sautéing (not in oil!).
However, it's getting a little easier. 
I've gathered and made some recipes that we enjoy.
Thank you to my blog friends who e-mailed recipes and advise.
Also, what would I do without Pinterest?
(and Google...)

Thank goodness for the outdoors!
We've had lovely cool weather with blue skies and sunshine in Breckenridge.
I've found time between grocery shopping and cooking to walk and hike.

One day, when I had errands in town, I walked unfamiliar paths on the east side of town.

Looking toward the ski trails, I realized we're less than a month from opening.
I can wait a bit for the snow to fall, but I guess the ski area can't.

On weekdays, town is deserted.
Locals live for this brief period of rest from tourists.
Trails, sidewalks, and roads aren't teeming with people and cars.

   I walk in solitude and relish the quiet.

I don't have a jack o'lantern to show you.
I hope this relic will do -
same color at least.

We've been eating plant-based about a month now.
We've both lost weight and feel great.
I imagine we'll reach our set-point weight and won't keep losing.
We eat a lot, but veggies are filling and aren't loaded with calories.
However, they're dense in nutrients.

Bon appétit!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

This and That

I just returned from my walk.
I walk about 5 miles a day.
Sometimes, I don't feel like going.
However, I force myself out the door.
In the fresh air, I feel more energetic.
My spirits lift while exercising.

We're between seasons at high altitude.
Temperatures at night consistently go below freezing.
Aspen leaves blow off trees and crinkle underfoot.
I think it's like walking the Yellow Brick Road.
(However, I'm not wearing ruby slippers.)

Mid-week we woke to about 2" (50.8mm) of snow.
My yard is still frosted white.
The peaks glisten in the sunshine.
Most of it will melt in a few days.
This won't be the base of our winter snow.
However, winter is just around the corner.

After reading HOW NOT to DIE by Michael Greger MD,
I'm preparing more vegetarian meals.
The book was recommended by Bob's Internist.
If any of you have a great vegan/vegetarian recipe,
please share with me on e-mail.
I could use some help!
I'm also pretty much dairy-free.
Unfortunately, I love cheese, so that's the hardest to omit.

What are you doing lately for your health?
Is there anything in particular that makes you feel better physically and emotionally?

Stay well!

Rec path heading toward Frisco - early morning clouds 

All photos iPhone 6s.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Lingering Fall in Breckenridge - Our World

The mountains of Colorado are filled with gold.
I'm using my camera to pan for it.

Blue sky and golden aspens put me in a reflective mood.

Colors of fall dominate the landscape.

Tansy adds its own sweet yellow to the scene.

People flock to high altitude to see aspens glow in sunlight.

Meanwhile, birds leave town to find warmer homes.

Soon Breckenridge ski trails will be covered with white.
Until then, I enjoy fall's beauty as days grow shorter and temperatures drop.

I hope that fall lingers awhile longer in Breckenridge!

I'm enjoying the new 17mm pancake lens on my mirrorless Olympus.
The camera plus lens are exceptionally light and easy to carry on hikes.
I find it perfect for both distant landscapes and closeup shots.
The birdhouse photo was taken with the iPhone 6s.
All other photos are with the 17mm on the Olympus.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hiking the Peaks Trail in Fall (and Falling...)

At first-light, Bob dropped me at the trailhead in Breckenridge.
It was cloudy and cool with little wind -
a perfect hiking day.
Light dimmed as the trail led through ancient evergreens.

Especially when I hike alone,
I'm alert to my surroundings.
Besides watching the obstacles on the trail ahead of me,
I scan peripherally through the forest every few steps.

Unfortunately, on this day, only a few minutes into my hike,
my right foot snagged and held on an obstacle.
I slammed to the ground onto my left side.
My cheekbone and lip took a hard hit on rocky ground.

My lip and the inside of my mouth where my teeth scraped bled profusely.
I could feel my face swelling at the impact point.

Using ice water from my pack, I rinsed my mouth to stop the bleeding.
I began dosing with homeopathic Arnica pills that I carry for trauma.
I moved body parts to determine if there were serious injuries.
After calming myself for a few minutes, I continued on the trail.

As I hiked, I assessed the situation.
Aside from the shock of falling,
my injuries seemed minor.
With motion, I actually felt better.
So, I continued, more cautious where I planted my feet.

The Peaks Trail starts at 10,075' (3,070M) at the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge.
It meanders 10 miles through pine, spruce, fir, and aspen forests
ending at 9,110' (2,776M) with views of Peak One and Victoria Peak.
The trail rolls through forests and meadows,
crossing many small streams and drainages.
I watched for moose or bear but saw only chipmunks and squirrels.

As I hiked, skies threatened and then cleared.
By the time I walked to my pickup point, the sky was blue.
Bob got a horrified look on his face as he walked up the trail to greet me.
I guess I looked like I had been mugged.
My lip was bloody/puffy and cheek swollen/black and blue.

However, I felt great and was elated by the beauty of the hike.
I enjoyed solitude until about a mile from the finish
when hikers came onto the trail from the Frisco side.

Yes, I hike alone and sometimes there is danger associated with that.
People ask if I carry a cell phone - I do.
However, in the backcountry, coverage can be spotty or non-existent.
Usually, someone knows where I plan to hike.
I'm careful, though accidents can happen. 
I carry first aid supplies.
Arnica pills and gel are invaluable for bruising, muscle strain, and trauma.
If I were disastrously hurt, I'd hope my family and friends could take
comfort in the fact that I was where I wanted to be doing what I love.
At 72, I wonder how many more years I can enjoy the outdoors as I do.
There will be a time when my activities are curtailed.
Thankfully, that time is not now.

This morning, we woke to this scene.
Fall is short in Breckenridge, CO.
I'm smiling a bit crookedly through a puffy lip, and there is a big purple bruise on my face.
The injuries will heal, but the memories of a gorgeous fall hike will linger.

PS Thank goodness I was carrying the Olympus on my right side - no damage to it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Golden Season in Breckenridge - Our World

Leaves are changing rapidly in Summit County, CO.
Aspens are the only deciduous trees that grow naturally above 10,000'.

Though my aspens have changed dramatically since this photo taken last week, I love the pink glow on the peaks. 

At dawn, when the rising sun turns western peaks rosy,
I savor my surroundings.

Each golden day is a gift to the senses.

I hike beneath a canopy of yellow.

The long view to snow dusted peaks is exhilarating.

A magical light shines through aspens groves.

I welcome this golden season with a smile.

Thank you for all the good wishes in the last post for our son Jim's recovery.
Luckily, he was in good shape before his accident.
He's healing and feeling less pain.

Photos were taken on a hike through Aspen Alley in Breckenridge, CO.
All photos except the last were shot with the 17mm pancake on the Olympus.
Final photo of me was taken by Bob with iPhone 6s.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Season of Changes

I know that we're not in control.
I remind myself often of this truth.
However, just in case we grow too complacent,
Life likes to remind us.

Our son, Jim, had a mountain bike accident over the weekend.
He was taken by ambulance to Summit Medical.
Luckily, Jim's injuries will heal.
He has 6 broken ribs (one fractured in 2 places).
He needed a chest tube to inflate the left lung which was pierced.
He was/is in a great deal of pain.
That's being managed with medication.
He's home recuperating now with his family.

sunset at our house

Bob and I are also recuperating. 
We're recovering from the fear of what might have been.
Thinking about the head and the spine,
we realize that broken ribs are preferable.

In an instant life changes.
We accommodate and adapt.
No matter how careful we are, how much we plan, how skillful we might be,
life intervenes in ways we can't predict.
We're required to accept a new plan and switch paths.
If we don't, we're lost forever.

Nature is good at change.
It teaches profound concepts in simple ways.
Summer is switching rapidly to fall.
Aspens quake yellow in the breeze.
Plants produce seeds for next summer's blooms.
The forest floor, once green, turns gold and rust.
Squirrels forage and cache for the long cold spell ahead.
Bears roam and gorge, readying for hibernation.

Bob and I see the changes and make our own preparations.
We watch golden leaves flutter downward.
We're mindful of the weather (which itself is unpredictable).
We work outdoors on our property.
We add layers to keep warm.
We take long hikes and celebrate endings and beginnings.
In the evenings, we light the fire and feel grateful.

last of the Shasta Daisies blooming in my garden

It's natural to wonder what lies ahead.
There is no knowing or predicting.
However, living at high altitude,
we're pretty sure our future will include white...

(Even so, I won't name the next season quite yet!)