Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Somebody Can't Keep a Secret...

So, cruised up on Saturday for a quick getaway at the ol' Secret Spot. I kinda knew it would be a test of its secretiveness, being a Saturday in the summer and all. Sure enough, upon arrival I found three sets of campers already set up, with four tents between them, a veritable mob by secret spot standards. Someone had even brought children. GASP!

Undeterred, I employed the Super Secret Solitude Strategy (henceforth to be known as the S-Quad), and proceeded up the mountain. Along the way, I ran into Bambi and her mother:

Soon I had arrived at a very acceptable spot for the night, where I took a picture of this sunset:

It's not as good as this one, but let's be honest, what is?

Now then, technically speaking, I wasn't allowed to camp here. But, technically speaking, I was camped back at the secret spot, and since technically speaking I didn't have a camp stove, didn't want a campfire, and had securely strung the rest of my belongings (including my tent) up in a nearby tree...

...technically speaking, I wasn't camping. I was just having a long night of stargazing. I'm not gonna lie, I was mildly concerned about the bear coming to visit, a rattlesnake slithering up in my business, and/or a wild band of coyote vagabonds stumbling upon me, mistaking me for a giant roadrunner, and exercising their much-deserved revenge. But...none of that happened, I had a relaxing night, and the worst of it was a mildly annoying attack from the spineless mercenaries of insecta. Hey biting flies, what's your frickin' deal anyhow?

Camp Stargazing Site

Buried deep in the safety of my cocoon, I slept soundly and awoke early at first light...

...with dawn bringing a very pretty, shadowed, hazy scene of the distant mountains:

Success? Success. Aloha.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Had an amazing Colorado mountain trip following my visit to the 2011 ACSM national conference in Denver! Here's a brief photo-journal:

Despite the fact that Colorado's state animal is the Bighorn Sheep, I found bear images to be ubiquitous. Here's the biggest bear I've ever seen, trying to get into the conference to see my poster...

First thing after the conference, my exceptionally cute and capable mountain tour-guide took me up to St. Mary's Glacier, elevation 10,700'.

There was plenty of snow, so we proceeded to build this snow-(wo)man.

Exhausted from our efforts (and a raucous, hypoxic snowball fight), we stopped for lunch at Beau Jo's, whose "Mountain Pies" - with the possible exception of the legendary family deep dish - might just be the best pizza there is. there's a sweet waterfall across the street.

The nearby "buffalo herd overlook," while evidently quite popular, made me a little unsettled based upon prior experience.

The next day I cruised up to Rocky Mountain National Park, where I was welcomed by this not-so-shabby view at the Glacier Basin campground.

Glacier Basin camp

After a brief hike to nearby Bierstadt Lake, I found another decent photo-op...

...and enjoyed the sunset view with this she-moose who was grazing on lake grass.

The next day I did some more mountain lake exploration. On the way, a photogenic ground squirrel posed near Alberta Falls.

Above 9,000', there was plenty of snow. I'd characterize some of it as "unstable."

"The Loch," elevation 10,100', was about halfway frozen.

I continued routefinding up to ~11,400', near the top of the drainage, in search of a higher lake called "Sky Pond." I never found it, perhaps because it was still buried in snow.

Later on, however, I visited Dream Lake (elevation 9,900'). It was pretty.

...and since it was called "Dream Lake," I figured I'd take a nap.

Meanwhile back at camp, some elk cows were hanging out, having a graze. Later on they came by to admire my evening stretching routine.

The third day I decided to summit a mountain and check out some scenery. This one (Twin Sisters) looked good...

This was the view looking west from the summit (11,428') toward Long's Peak.

While I was enjoying the view, this yeller-bellied, sap-suckin' varmit tried to jack me for my trail mix. Not a chance, marmot!

The view was rad (click here for a sweet, 360-degree panorama), so I stayed for a while.

Driving back toward camp, I stumbled upon a couple big, bull elk grazing in a farmer's pasture.

To finish off the day, I took a quick hike to "Twin Owls," a popular rock-climbing spot.

I didn't do any climbing, but instead sat back and took in this spectacular sunset over the mountains.

Later that night, a massive thunderstorm came through, reminiscent of an evening at King's Canyon last October.

Driving out toward the west side of the park on my last day, I took note of water levels in the streams, sure to rise as the past winter's massive snowbase melts away...

At 12,000', there was still 12-15' of snow along the side of the road.

I took a little while to explore the alpine tundra, which was decidedly windy, cold, and un-June-like...

...and came across this obviously lost elk cow wandering the frozen ground...

Word to the wise: very nice lakes with ample vegetation and big-horned bucks 3000' below!

Despite the cold, I enjoyed the view west to the Never Summer Mountains...

...and paused briefly for a photo at the continental divide.

Though I don't have photos to prove it, I also took a brief trip down to "The Springs," where I visited the Garden of the Gods and took in beautiful views of Pike's Peak. Back north, I enjoyed checking out Golden, and the views from Lookout Mountain, in the Rocky foothills.

All in all, a spectacular first outdoor trip to the great state of Colorado. It reminded me of other places in the west, especially Utah and Idaho (and particularly the Sawtooths), yet was uniquely endearing and appealing in its own way. I can't wait for my next opportunity to go back!