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)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Cycle of Nature


we drove to Vail earlier in the week
an easy 45 minutes over the pass if there's no snow
at an altitude of 8,021' (2,475m)
the village still shows some colorful foliage



we walk, I take photos
we have a great lunch at Sweet Basil


fall at high altitude is fabulous this year
cold and snow waited until late September
leaves weren't stunted early by hard freeze


our yard has been Moose Central the past few weeks
both Mama and grown daughter
plus a huge bull and his young lady love
spend time in our yard
working outside, I'm alert
I don't want to get in the middle of moose-love


most of the perennials have dried and gone to seed
shasta daisies, pure beauties,  bow their heads
readying for winter's sleep


poppy casings hold thousands of seeds
awaiting release for next summer's vivid display


People ask about the Header:
it's a large beaver lodge in Maroon Lake
in the Maroon Bells Wilderness near Aspen

I feel at peace
the cycle of Nature continues

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Blank Slate


Last weekend, snow arrived.
Temperatures went below freezing.
By midweek, temperatures rose.
There was melting, but white still remains.


I walk the trail in my waterproof hikers with gaiters.
The snow makes a loud crunching sound.
It's like biting an apple with each step.
I know bears still roam.
I'm sure they hear me coming!

Relaxing Bears - Four Seasons, Vail

Today, Big Mama Moose and Lilbit (her grown daughter)
browse together in the forest behind our house.
We've seen each singly over the past few weeks.
We thought after 2 1/2 years they'd parted company.
Lilbit (no longer little) is nearly full-grown.
But, Big Mama is still easily recognizable.


We watch them for awhile from the deck.
They glance our way as they continued grazing.
We finally decide to go on our walk,
giving them wide berth as we hike up the trail.
When we arrive back home, they're gone.


I like the first snows.
The landscape is filigreed.
Grasses sway with bowed heads under white weight.


Snow clumps on tree branches and evergreen boughs.


A pure beauty reigns - a blank slate, a new beginning.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Road Trip to Aspen, CO - Our World

We spent part of the week leisurely traveling through fall in CO.
On McClure Pass we looked out over both
snow-covered peaks and vivid fall foliage.


Coming down into ranch lands on our way to visit our Optometrist,
we had a slight delay as sheep undulated around us on the narrow road.
Herders and their dogs guided the sheep from summer pastures
high on the mountain to winter fields closer to home.


Near Aspen, we hiked into the Maroon Bells Wilderness.
Late afternoon sunlight lit aspen forests.
Breathtaking beauty surrounded us.



However, tragedy would soon strike in the Bells.
Two climbers hiked up North Maroon Peak on the day we arrived.
They summited but didn't make it down.
One man is dead and another (rescued by helicopter) is badly injured.
The Maroon Bells are nicknamed "The Deadly Bells" by the forest service.
However, the initial approach through the wilderness is easy and stunning -
the view of Maroon Lake looking toward the Bells
is the most photographed in CO.



The town of Aspen was quiet and uncrowded during our stay.
Perennials displayed their final blooms.
Trees dressed in vivid foliage.
Peaks gleamed white with fresh snow.
Days were crisp and overcast, perfect for hiking and biking.

Aspen Museum - under construction


My favorite place to visit in Aspen is the John Denver Sanctuary.
Gardens, water features, and rock formations engage the senses.
The sanctuary offers a peaceful respite - a place to rest and enjoy Nature.



Weather changes dramatically at high altitude.
We left Aspen to drive across Independence Pass with snow in the forecast.
Highway 82 crosses the Continental Divide at 12,095' (3687m).
There are spectacular views of lakes, meadows, forests, and soaring peaks,
including Mount Elbert (14,440' - 4,400m), CO's highest peak. 


Mount Elbert - highest 14ner and highest peak in CO

By the time we reached the summit of the pass, it was snowing.
When we arrived back in Breckenridge, we lit a fire, heated soup, and poured wine.
We await more snow over the weekend.
Goodbye fall - Hello winter!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Busy Week Including Snow in Breckenridge, CO

I've seen wonderful sights this past week:
two moose grazing in my back yard
a great blue heron (way off course!) winging through the dense forest
a resident pine marten checking me out before scampering away
a mama deer with twin fawns nibbling on the garden's seed heads

A few sights I managed to photograph:

dawn, Boreas Pass

fallen aspen leaves after new snow, Burro Trail

a bounty of gold

one bright dianthus

last bloom

fox tracks and my husband's bootprints crossing bridge in new snow

Lake Dillon with snowcapped peaks

light filtering through aspen at my house

a bouquet for Grammy (do you see me in his sunglasses?)

We've had 4 nights of snow, but all has melted except on the high peaks.
The fall foliage was the most spectacular in my 25 years of living in Breckenridge.
The aspens produced many more oranges this year.
I spend my days hanging the art work
and organizing the items we relocated from Denver.
I walk as usual in the forest and on the trails near my home.

We're leaving tomorrow on a brief road trip. 
We plan to hike and bike around Aspen, CO.
We hope to follow fall to a lower altitude.
Of course, I'll also take the new camera!

Monday, September 29, 2014

News from Breckenridge, CO

Hello Friends!

Sunset at our home in Breckenridge

The month of September was very busy.
The last time I posted it was summer.
Now, our high altitude fall is nearly over. 
Each gust of wind sends orange and gold aspen leaves
drifting to the ground.
My gardens have gone to seed.
This morning, we woke to snow on the high peaks.
More snow is expected tonight.

early morning, Boreas Pass

I've been playing with my new camera, an Olympus E-M1 Micro 4/3.
My former DSLR is over 9 years old and technology has advanced.
There is much to learn!

blue sky, aspens, and mountains from downtown Breckenridge

Our Denver house sold.
We  moved  last week.
Now, we're unpacking in Breckenridge,
finding space for items we kept.
We gave most of our city furniture and belongings  
to family and friends.
We're happy to downsize and simplify.

Boreas Pass Road

Many of you left sustaining comments and have
subsequently inquired about the recuperation
of our friend, Barb S, from her bike accident.
She is feeling great, is back home, has resumed driving,
takes walks through town for exercise,
and expects to fly to the East coast for a wedding in October.
Her positive attitude and determination teach us valuable lessons.
Though her healing continues, she has regained her independence.
She's thankful for all your thoughts and prayers.

our water feature "stream" at our home in Breckenridge

Though I've sometimes been stressed and exhausted this past month,
I've tried not to fight the flow of life.

I have a couple questions for you:

How many soup ladles are enough?
Do I really need all these pots and pans when I don't even like to cook?

Until the next time...
(All photos Olympus E-M1)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Learn Something New Every Day

taking a little blog break to play with a new camera
yes - I've finally made a decision on a micro 4/3
I hope my old brain is up to the learning curve

blue sky and clouds - Ten Mile Range, Breckenridge, CO

(comments closed)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In an Instant

Our good friend, Barb S, had a terrible accident on Monday.
She fell hard off her bike.
She was unconscious for awhile.
Another bicyclist (whom she didn't know) dialed 911.
Barb called us from the ER.


When we got to the hospital, I was shocked to see her.
I had just hiked with her the end of last week.
She was happy and well, planning a trip later this week.
(Obviously, postponed.)
She has major facial bruising and abrasions,
broken collarbone, broken pelvis, and broken thumb.


At 77, Barb is a role model - a gutsy woman.
Widowed young, she moved alone,
far from her East Coast home,
to Breckenridge, CO.

She became involved with church and community.
She made many lasting friendships.
She worked tirelessly.
She found satisfaction in Nature and physical activity.


Life changes in an instant.
Barb lies in pain in a hospital bed.
A long recovery and rehabilitation are necessary.


Am I devastated by her accident?
Of course.

But, do I wish she'd live a more circumscribed life?
Definitely not!


Here is a poem that reminds me of my friend:

Landscapes of the Mind — Dawna Markova
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

and, this quote from Goethe:

The dangers of life are infinite, & safety is among them.

Do you worry about accidents?
Are you afraid constantly for yourself or for those you love?

What does it mean to live life fully?

Barb S, Me, and Helen after hike last week

(Photos taken at Vail, CO, and in my garden with iPhone 5)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Trails, Blooms, and Celebration

Time is precious as summer fades.
Each sunny day, I'm outdoors.

Pinnate Daisies along Burro Trail

I take a fast 5 mile trail walk early most mornings.
Yesterday, as I was nearing the halfway point,
my phone rang.
My husband warned me that a moose just crossed our property,
heading up a trail I often use when returning.

I call this the "Octopus Tree"

I keep my eyes open for bear and moose.
I'm also careful about boulders and rocks strewn on the trail,
trying to avoid falls.
Both my body and brain get a workout!

Barb S and Helen on Wheeler Trail

Last week, hiking toward the Wheeler Trail with friends,
we spotted Fringed Gentians.
The saying goes that when the Gentians bloom
the first snow will fall in 6 weeks.
Oh, no! (We pretended not to see them.)

Purple Monkshood and Yellow Senecio

Early this morning,
Bob and I hiked up the Burro Trail from our house.
(I wore a jacket and my hands were cold.)
We jumped across Lehman Creek, still running high. 

Pink Pinnate Daisy, Creamy Cow Parsnip, Yellow Senecio

Late summer wildflowers glow in the meadows.


The perennials at Ten Mile Station on the ski mountain show their colors.
There is a last burst of growth and bloom before frost. 

Bob walking ahead of me on the trail

Today Bob and I celebrate our 48th Wedding Anniversary.
We began "going steady" at age 15.
After college we married.
We raised our children near where we grew up in PA.
After they went off to college, we moved to CO.

Our daughter-in-law writes that our marriage is a testimony of
compromise
hard work
friendship
sacrifice
respect
and
love

I'd say that's about right.

It's good to have a friendship that's endured all these years.
We'll celebrate quietly at home.
We'll raise a toast to young love that remains steadfast.
We'll hope for another year.

(all photos iPhone 5, edited in Snapseed, Titlefx, and Waterlogue)