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, November 20, 2015

Let It Snow and Happy Thanksgiving!

A lot has changed since I last posted.
As I write this, we're having a blizzard.

Bob on touring skis breaking trail behind our house
tree trunks plastered with blowing snow

Skis or snowshoes are needed now
 to navigate the trails behind our house.

skiing through the forest - the beauty of white

This morning, I ventured out alone
breaking trail through fresh snow.
It's so peaceful in the forest.
The tall lodgepole pines creak and groan
as they bend in the wind.
My skis make a quiet shushing sound.

moose tracks nearly covered with new snow

I glide through a sea of white.
I notice tracks crisscrossing the forest:
squirrel, fox, coyote, moose,

I'm continuing with my writing challenge.
So far in November, I've written 34,000 words.
The goal is 50,000.
I'll be glad when my story ends so I can stop!

Family arrive this weekend.
They'll be here for a week of
skiing and celebrating.

Opening Day, Peak 8, Breckenridge Ski Area

There are 2 birthdays on November 23:
Bob's 71st and my blog's 8th.
The blog is still young.
Bob and I are vintage!
We're very thankful for our many blessings

Keep smiling!

Stay safe and well.

To all my American friends:
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Walk on the Wild Side - Breckenridge, CO

We had days of snow since my last post.
It looks and feels like winter.

I see foxes crisscrossing my property daily.
One of the females is unafraid.

She's plump from a good summer of hunting.
Her fur is fluffy and plush.

She reminds me of a stuffed animal.

She even peeks in our windows.

A few days ago, I saw where 
the Mama Moose and her calf
bedded overnight in the forest.
There were two bowls scooped into the snow -
one large and one smaller - 
where their bodies rested.

fox tracks leading to my back yard

I'm watchful when I go deep into the forest.
Today as snow fell, I struggled as
I made a fresh track through it,
wearing my trail shoes and gaiters.
Soon snowshoes or skis will be necessary.
I saw only signs of fox and coyote 
and the tiny filigreed paw prints 
of small creatures etched into the white.

a broken fence in the middle of wilderness

I'm participating this month in NaNoWriMo,
a fiction writing challenge.
I'm supposed to write at least 1500 words a day
to end up with a 50,000-word novel.
I don't intend to do anything with it.
Just imagining the story is enough.
It's tough because though I read fiction,
I rarely write in that genre.
So, I may not post on my blog as often.
I'm using up my words in plot and characters and setting!
However, I'm sure I'll visit you to get away from 
my own writing for awhile.

Today, I'm linking up with Good Fences hosted by
my long-time blog friend, Theresa, at:

Be safe and happy.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Changing to a White World - Skywatch

Thanks to all my Blog buddies who commented
on cameras/techniques in the last post.
I appreciate getting to know you better.

It's changed from fall to winter in Breckenridge, Colorado.

We're still able to walk the trails without skis or snowshoes.
However, it's a workout.

We're watchful for icy patches and partly hidden rocks.

Mama is a big lady - I don't want a close encounter

Yesterday, a Mama Moose and her calf
grazed just off our property.
Both were very alert when I went onto the deck.
I didn't try to get a photo until they started moving away.
The calf is gangly and must scamper to keep up with Mama.
The photo I snapped of the youngster
got blurry from all its movement. 
A moose with a calf is dangerous.
With this new family in our neighborhood,
we must be alert on the trails. 

The color in my world is muted.
I find beauty in neutral tones.

I scattered perennial and wildflower seeds on a snowy day.
I dream of what waits under a blanket of new snow.

Waldo is smiling.

We're watching the skies.

Friday, October 23, 2015

This and That about Photography

I've been getting some inquiries about 
the camera(s) I'm currently using.

I'm holding the Olympus with the 14-150mm zoom - it's really small for a DSLR
photo taken on my iPhone 6s by Bob

Since September of 2014, the DSLR
I use is the Olympus E-M1,
a micro 4/3, lightweight, exchangeable lens camera.
I currently have 3 Olympus 4/3 lenses:
12-40mm pro zoom
60mm macro
14-150mmII zoom

using the Olympus 14-150 at 14mm for a wide-angle shot

My favorite all-around lens is the 14-150mm
which with the micro 4/3 has a 28-300mm reach.
The Olympus camera and the lenses are so lightweight,
I have no trouble hiking with them.

Panorama of Maroon Bells Wilderness with my iPhone 6s

I also use the iPhone as a point and shoot camera.
I recently upgraded to the iPhone 6s and like
the images I'm getting from it.
On the phone, I usually use the HDR setting.
(I also edit even iPhone photos.)

the 12-40 pro zoom lens on the Olympus

Unless I know I'm going to shoot hundreds of photos,
I set the Olympus to shoot RAW files. 
JPEG files are small and are edited in-camera. 
RAW files are large, contain much more information,
and require editing by the photographer.
(I also edit JPEG photos, but they require less work.)

60mm Macro on Olympus 

Lighting, composition, and setting are
all aspects I consider when taking a shot.
However, I rarely "compose" or set-up a shot -
I hand hold my camera (or phone),
try to be ultra-still, find the "best" angle and light I can,
then shoot.
It's not rocket science - for me, it's just a hobby!

here I enhanced saturation of yellow and orange, added luminance to sky
and fiddled with definition and sharpness to bring depth to the photo

I like to "play" with digital photos. 
Part of my love of photography is the editing phase.
It's time-consuming but so is painting a picture.
I "paint" using the RAW files and an editing program.
I enhance and remove - I never post an unedited shot.
My favorite editing program on the computer is Lightroom.
On the iPad I like using Snapseed.

quick snap of the male fox during yesterday's snowstorm
Olympus 14-150mm - a tripod would have made a sharper image,
but the fox wouldn't have waited

Many photographers whom I admire use a tripod.
I have a tripod but rarely use it.
Perhaps I would use a tripod in low light for night photography.
That said, I don't shoot much at night.
When I do, I try adjusting the Aperture and ISO
to get the image I want.
I never use a flash - even on the iPhone.

I prefer to be spontaneous -
I see something interesting and position myself quickly for a shot.
I don't over-think it!

taken from a (dirty) window on a moving train with iPhone 6s
I wanted to get a wild west feel - it's not a sharp image, but it is a story 

I'm not a professional.
My photos are never perfect.
I go for story as well as picture.
Often there are flaws, but they are part of my story.

it's snowed the last couple days
shooting a white world adds some interesting "challenges"
this photo taken with the Olympus using the 14-150mm at 14 mm
f/4.0 at 1/60 sec.

My way may not be your way.
There is no right or wrong.
What is pleasing to me
may not satisfy you.

I like to learn from others.

Tell me a little bit about your style.
What camera/lens is your favorite?
Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG?
Do you use a tripod?
Do you edit?

Thanks for your input!

(Even if you're not "into" photography,
I'd enjoy hearing from you.)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Lingering Fall in Colorado

In Colorado, fall is having a last hurrah.

There is still no snow in our yard.
Days are bathed in the golden light of late autumn.

the wild west from the train

For the past two weeks, I've been traveling.
On our Girlfriends' Trip,
we boarded the train at Union Station in Denver
and traveled by rail to Glenwood Springs.

From the train, there are special views
of high peaks, river valleys, and soaring canyons.

This past week, Bob and I took a trip
to hike and bike near Aspen, Colorado.

Colors of late fall welcomed us in the Maroon Bells Wilderness.
The Bells are two of Colorado's 53 peaks
over 14,000' (4267.2 M).

can you see Bob hiking on the right side of the photo?

The peaks provide a rocky backdrop
to old-growth forests, pristine lakes, rushing streams, and grassy meadows.

it was a Hollyhock sort of day at John Denver Sanctuary
Before returning home, we visited the John Denver Sanctuary in Aspen.

Drying grasses, hardy late blooms, and water reflections
provided a special seasonal beauty.

Though the Bells and the Sanctuary are visited by many tourists,
at this time of year there are no crowds.
We enjoyed hiking in the peacefulness of Nature
under a Colorado blue sky.

I hope wherever you are in the world,
Nature calls to you and offers solitude.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Remembering Goodbye

I wrote this post 4 years ago.
Today, I said goodbye to my friend again.
I didn't see the cowboy -
but, I remember him...

I said goodbye to my best friend in a pink dawn, feeling the usual tight throat as she drove away. Inside, I busied myself in the quiet kitchen. Standing at the sink, I saw movement where the trail opens to my back yard. Thinking maybe a deer or a moose was visiting, I came to attention. A cowboy - black hat, black boots, black jacket, and dark pack - strode into the clearing. I blinked but, yes, a cowboy! As he turned to walk the perimeter of my property, he looked up and our eyes met. His were the pale blue of a morning sky. I knew he saw me framed in the kitchen window, faded fleece PJ's drooping around my shoulders, white hair sticking up like dandelion fuzz. He immediately lowered his eyes back to the trail, moving quickly away through the pine duff. I shivered as he disappeared. My friend and the cowboy both left me as daybreak seeped slowly over the mountains.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Girlfriends' Vacation

October already!
Fall colors at high altitude are fading.
They were fantastic while they lasted.

My friend, Mary, will arrive shortly.
I haven't seen her for so long!
She and I along with Helen, Sue, and Di
leave on a Girlfriends' Vacation soon.
We're celebrating Di's 75th birthday.

It's a busy, happy time!
I'll be off the computer for awhile.
Until later - 
celebrate friendship!

Lucinda B. Rabbit is demanding to go along on our trip...
(You know what that means!)

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

High Altitude Beauty - Our World

Fall at high altitude is a glorious season.
Even above tree line, amazing color transformations occur.

The hike to Silver Dollar Lake near Georgetown, Colorado,
starts just above 11,000' in an old-growth evergreen forest.
As the trail climbs, the towering pine and spruce become more sparse.

Entering the Krummholz region, trees are gnarled or form banners,
twisting and losing limbs on one side due to high winds and harsh weather.

In alpine tundra, only willow bushes and grasses survive the elements.

The trail above Naylor Lake to Silver Dollar Lake is rocky
with swatches of algae-covered scree to navigate.

King's Crown turns scarlet with falling temperatures

In summer, this area is covered with wildflowers.
In autumn, most flowers have gone to seed.

above Naylor Lake

However, the golds, reds, and greens of changing vegetation
fills the high alpine landscape with color.

snowfield and grasses reflect in Silver Dollar lake - near 12,000'

While Colorado is known for the fall beauty of aspens changing color,
the serenity and long vistas of a hike above tree line are a special treat.

I hiked to Silver Dollar Lake with 3 friends, all of us over 70.
It was an overcast day but warmed enough for us to take off our jackets.
We rested and had a snack beside the lake in the quiet embrace of towering peaks.

Nature's beauty never fails to amaze.

Our World

Here is a quote I love by Rene Daumal:

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.