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)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tiny Miracles

each day a new surprise awaits

tiny miracles

I took the first photo with the Olympus EM-1 (14-150 mm zoom), but the others with less clarity are with the iPhone 6s. The nest is tucked in a wreath at our back door. There is too little space for the large camera to fit and focus. I must be quick to take a peek when Mama leaves the nest. If I'm near the nest when she returns, she paces at my feet. Mama Junco remains patient and diligent. She only leaves the nest to find food for the babies and herself. There are actually 4 baby birds, but the last was hatched a day later than the other 3. Its body is still pink, so I'm hoping it's alive. Watching the parents build and guard the nest was an extraordinary experience for us. The incubating, hatching, and now feeding of such tiny creatures is a full-time job for the mother bird. The hatchlings are about the size of my thumb. Their response to anything near them (even the iPhone) is to open their mouths for food. 

It's summertime at high altitude. Wildflowers are starting to bloom. My gardens are green and buds are showing on the perennials. I follow alpine trails with a smile on my face.

Globeflowers along Lehman Creek off Peak 10

Wishing you all everyday miracles!


(I'm keeping comments closed for awhile. Thank you for visiting.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wandering, Not Lost

Still unsettled this morning when I wake, I feel a sense of dread that should have dissipated. Last evening a woman crossing our property frantically screams a name. I call to her, "Your dog?" 

"No - my 10 year old daughter! We can't find her anywhere. Her dad thinks she may have gone into the woods."

Immediately, adrenalin surges through me. I call for Bob. We join the mother and the grandfather, fanning into the forest to search. The mother goes straight up the trail. Bob and Grandfather turn right toward the creek. I turn left onto a lesser-used trail leading into what my Grands call Scary Woods because the trees block light and moan as they rub together in the wind. 

Once enveloped by the forest, I'm less worried about evil people and more concerned about large foraging animals. Every time I've encountered a bear on the trails, it's been early evening when shadows start to gather. I clap and singsong, "Hey bear! Hey bear!" as I scan between the evergreens. 

Just where the trail emerges into a clearing, I see movement. Blue jeans, Tshirt, ponytail - a small girl! I call her name quietly, and she startles, wondering how this stranger knows her.  Trying not to frighten her, I quickly explain - I'm a neighbor, her family is worried, they think maybe she's lost. 

She looks me right in the eye, no longer wary. "I'm not lost! I put pebbles on top of bigger rocks so I can find my way back."

I laugh with relief. "Good girl! You did the right thing. I'll just walk with you back to your family." She smiles and chats amiably as we follow the trail (and her pebbles) toward home. 

When we reach their rental house, her aunt rushes toward us. The others are still searching. "Try the mother's cell," I say. "I'll go look for her."

As I head up the trail again, I see the mother approaching. She's calling the police. "She's safe," I yell. "Back at the house." We rush toward each other and both start crying. Relief! We hug so tightly that I can't distinguish her pounding heart from my own. Cheeks pressing together, our tears mingle. 

I look into the mother's eyes. "Please don't be angry with your daughter. She wasn't lost. She knew how to get back. She was just taking a walk in the woods. She's a smart and confident girl." We smile at each other through our tears.

Sometimes bad things happen. Thank goodness not in the case of the little girl who wasn't lost. I picture her now in my mind and get tears in my eyes - she's chatting happily about her walk, sure of herself, having a grand adventure, following an unknown path, but making sure she doesn't get lost.

A good ending - fear but no tragedy.

It's over 24 hours later now, and I feel calmer. Life is full of both bad and good. There is no controlling which we'll encounter. Some children are safe tonight, others are not. We can't keep ourselves or others from traveling unknown paths just to try and avoid the unknown.

Don't stop having adventures.
Just because you wander doesn't mean you're lost. 
"The dangers of life are infinite, & safety is among them." Goethe

(comments closed) 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Days of Hope and Promise

our son, Jim, fly fishing near our house

The air is fresh and crisp. 
Scents of pine, cedar, and spruce mix with wet earth.
Streams and rivers rage and overflow with snowmelt.
The high peaks glisten white.

Mama Junco is incubating eggs in the wreath just outside our back door.
We watch her through the window, wondering how many eggs are in the nest.
We're careful to stay clear of her domain and not frighten her.
(Luckily, we have 2 back doors!)

Perennials in the gardens are green and growing.
The Basket of Gold is blooming.
A few Daffodils sway in the breeze
Soon Poppies will burst forth with a riot of color.
Our water feature ("the stream") sprays and dances over tiny falls.
We like listening to its calming shushes and whispers.

Globeflowers growing in high alpine meadow

I hike above snow line to about 11, 400' (3,474 M).
Alone, I look out upon meadows of white.
Hardy wildflowers are just starting to bloom.
Little streams flow from melting snowbanks.


Fairy Slippers (Calypso Orchids) growing in the forest

Spring means new beginnings, a chance to grow and thrive.
I feel my spirit expand in the vastness surrounding me.
I give thanks for the chance to celebrate another spring -
each day is filled with hope and promise. 

Though I'll continue to post occasionally to have a record of my days,
I'll keep comments closed for awhile.
I thank you for your visit.
Stay well.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Let the Bloom Begin!

Today, we shoveled the last of the snow from our gardens.
We pruned and raked and gathered debris.
Our irrigation is started. 
We're tired!

Marsh Marigold


Though there is still snow on the trails,
wildflowers are blooming in boggy areas. 

Snowmelt continues to swell our rivers and streams.

At this time of the year,
we spend most of our waking hours outside.
We're either working on our property, hiking, or biking.
In the evenings after dinner, we discuss our day and read.
My computer time is limited.

I'm sure I'll think of you as I gaze up at the snow covered peaks.

 I hope you'll stay well and enjoy your days.
I plan to pack as much fun and activity into my summer as I can.
For now, I'll say goodbye for a little while.

(comments closed)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Offering Encouragement

We're back from a short trip to Vail and Aspen.

At 8,022' (2,445M), Vail Village is 2,000' (609M) lower than my house.
Snow is mostly melted, even on the mountain.
Trees and spring bulbs are blooming.

Gore Creek is thundering through Vail from spring runoff.
I hiked along the creek, noticing new growth on the banks. 

Bob starting the climb up Independence Pass - about 3,000 more feet to the top

On the second day, we biked Independence Pass, outside of Aspen.
The Pass was still closed to vehicles on the day we biked.
It officially opened the next morning.
The road was cleared of snow and controlled for avalanche.
At 12,095' (3,686M), it's the highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide in the US.
Starting on our ride, spring shows itself in lime aspen leaves and green grass. 

The old gold mining town of Independence (now a ghost town) is just above 10,000'

However, the road climbs relentlessly, up, up, and up. 
Above 10,000' (3,000M), the landscape is still snow covered.
The high peaks hold snow all summer.

thanks, Blake, for this photo - nice talking with you!

I mostly biked alone, at my own (slow) pace.
However, several young people spoke to me as they passed,
encouraging me to "keep pedaling!"
One young man rode with me for awhile, chatting about the pass.
I told him it was a difficult ride for a 72 year old gal.
When he was on his way back down,
he stopped and took this photo of me, still pedaling upward.

Bob's bike at the top

As I kept turning the pedals, I thought about how
just a little bit of encouragement can mean a lot.
The people who spoke encouragingly to me helped me keep going through a tough time.
We never know how much our small kindnesses can mean to someone's day.

Biking Independence Pass taught me
something about resolve and also something about being uplifted by others.

Returning home to Breckenridge, we met snow and cold.
However, each day brings more melting.

Today, I'm encouraged by this little Junco building a nest in my wreath -

and by this tiny critter the size of my thumb,
sunning itself in my rock garden.

Let me remember this:
what seems inconsequential is often just the opposite.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Taste of Spring at High Altitude

Finally, spring is awakening in Breckenridge.

Snow is melted in town.
Streams and ponds are free of ice.

At our house, drifts remain.
Trails behind us are still snow covered. 
However, each day  brings more melting.
Of course, we won't be surprised if a snow storm arrives.

Pasque Flowers (Pulsatilla) lift their heads to the sun

Where ground is showing, perennials and wildflowers start to grow,
I'm amazed at their hardiness.

I hiked the River Trail this weekend.
The Blue is high but not over its banks.
There is still much snowmelt happening above 10,000' (3,000M).
The trees and bushes have buds but are not in leaf.

Fly fishing in our rivers is a popular sport.
That water is frigid -
people wear waders to enter it.

Today, we biked to Copper Mountain.
It was a difficult ride uphill - the wind was strong.
My body is still acclimating to altitude after our time at sea level.
This week we leave on a short journey.
We hope to bike Independence Pass outside of Aspen
before it opens to vehicles.
It will be a challenge for me!

I love this time in the mountains.
We're still showing winter, but 
summer is just around the corner.
Birds are returning.
Sitting on the deck this afternoon,
I was startled by a hummingbird.
I looked out over the snowdrifts and watched it fly to my seed heads.
No nourishment there, so I put a small bowl of sugar water on the rail.
I can't leave any bird food  outside because of awakening bears.
But while I relaxed, I could watch the hummer hover and feed.

My heart is happy at home in Breckenridge!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sometimes, Life IS a Beach!

Hello Friends!
It's been a long time since I posted.
From the end of April until yesterday,
we were at the beach in S California.

We walked on sand instead of snow.
Waves crashed angrily to shore.
The surf whispered as it retreated.

My senses were captivated by salt spray and spring blossoms.

Intricate tide pools and rock formations beckoned. 
Sea birds and tiny marine creatures caught my eye.

I walked long distances on wet sand.
When tired, I found peaceful resting places.

The sea teaches as it constantly creates and erases.

I had my 72nd birthday on May 9.
I'm grateful for the gifts of good health and physical stamina.
Family and friends show me love and understanding and respect.

As my time on Earth grows more finite,
I try to enjoy each perfect moment.
We all have both good and bad experiences.
My focus now is on the positive. 

I feel a pure happiness.

PS It's snowing today in Breckenridge.
Luckily, I carry memories of sunshine in my heart.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This and That - and a Bear

We've been traveling, and now we're back in Breckenridge.
The snow melts but seems to fall again every day.
As I write this, a blizzard obscures the mountain.
Perhaps in a short while, the sun will appear.
This dance of spring is familiar to me.
I know the steps and try to follow Nature's lead.

It's often below freezing when I wake.
I hurriedly dress in layers and go outside for my walk.
I feel my spirits lift as the cold air hits my face.
Does the smile on my face help increase my well-being?
Brain science says a smile (even a fake smile)
improves mood and decreases stress.

storm clouds over Aspen Mountain and the Elk Range

I'm interested in neuroscience and the workings of the brain.
I recently finished an interesting  book -

This well-researched and well-written non-fiction
explains current science behind the mind/body connection.
The brain has a direct effect on bodily functions.
Therefore, under certain circumstances,
the mind is a powerful aid to healing.

can you find the bear?

On our recent trip, we biked and hiked near Basalt and Aspen.
We had a bit of excitement when we met a bear at close range.
He was walking down the Rio Grande Trail as we were biking up.
He lifted his nose to smell us curious creatures
before ambling  down an embankment toward the river.
I waited until he moved away before taking a distant photo of him.

In the Maroon Bells Wilderness near Aspen,
the landscape was partially snow covered.
The access road was still closed to vehicles.
As we hiked upward, we caught glimpses of the majestic Bells
gleaming white with new snow.

We're planning another trip, this time to California.

sunset from my house

In May, while snow keeps falling at our house,
perhaps we'll be walking on a deserted beach listening to the surf.

I'm smiling at the thought!