We had a fantastic day hiking in the White River National Forest to see The Maroon Bells (first six pictures). The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains. Maroon Peak, at 14,163 feet is the 27th highest peak in Colorado. North Maroon Peak, at 14,019 feet , is the 50th highest. Hard to believe Colorado has so many mountains over 14,000 feet (there are 53). There was beautiful scenery no matter which way we looked. We took a 5 mile hike to Crater Lake (9th and 10th picture). The lake was not near as pretty as the one by the Maroon Bells that we walked a quarter of a mile to, but it was great exercise on a beautiful day.
On our way to Breckenridge we stopped at the Glenwood Hot Springs. We had to really work to get there as the entire town of Glenwood Springs is under construction. It was worth it though. Glenwood Hot Springs is the world’s largest hot springs pool with over 1 million gallons of 90 degree mineral water. They also have a smaller pool that is 104 degrees.
After our relaxing dip, we drove through beautiful Glenwood Pass. There are no pictures because there was no where to stop. The aspen were about half changed and the beautiful yellow, with the light green of the other aspens and the deep green of the pine trees was beautiful. The 4th picture gives an idea of what is what like (although this is from Guanella Pass) for miles and miles.
The next morning we took a drive on the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway (pictures 2 – 7). It was a bit over cast and there was freezing rain at the top, but it was still a beautiful drive. The last remnants of the sun provided us with a rainbow as we came down the pass into Georgetown. The next three pictures are from Breckenridge. Don and Merlin went on a walk while Leslie shopped at the Columbia outlet. Don found three beers that he liked at the Broken Compass Brewing Company. They had a coconut porter that Leslie would have actually bought, but it only came in growlers and there is no room in the RV fridge for a growler.
We had some visitors in the campground this morning. We went to the Utah side of Dinosaur National Monument today. The park contains over 800 paleontological sites. The “Wall of Bones” (pictures 5 – 7) located within the Dinosaur Quarry building in the park consists of a steeply tilted (67° from horizontal) rock layer which contains hundreds of dinosaur fossils. The 4th pictures shows the skull of the Allosaurus. The Allosaurus fragilis skeleton found here has one of the best skulls of any Late Jurassic predatory dinosaur in the world. Dinosaur skulls are rarely preserved because they are made of very thin bone that is easily crushed. Allosaurus, meaning “different delicate reptile,” is a theropod (meat-eating dinosaur) that probably ate other smaller dinosaurs. Its teeth were up to 3 in long and serrated like steak knives for cutting flesh.
The monument also has petroglyphs (patterns chipped or carved into the rock) and pictographs (patterns painted on the rock) left by the Fremont peoples more than 1,000 years ago. Some petroglyphs show traces of pigment, possibly indicating that many designs originally included both carved and painted areas. The rest of the pictures show the beautiful (and varied) geology in the monument.`
Ok, this blog actually starts in Rocky Mountain National Park but it made the title too long. We went into the park in the morning and actually got to see two elk fighting. Well they were sort of practice fighting. They were not very intense, probably because it is a week or so early for them to need to be fighting. Still interesting to watch though. We took Merlin for a walk around the lake in Estes Park (pictures 5 – 6) and then went shopping. We also spent time replanning our trip again. The weather (only for the week we were supposed to be in Yellowstone and Tetons) was made up of winter storm warnings. Lows near 20, highs in the 40s and we were dry camping. So….another year. This is supposed to be a fall trip.
We decided to head to Steamboat Springs, Colorado taking the scenic byway from Fort Collins (pictures 7 – 9). It was a beautiful drive with lots of Aspen already turning. The last pictures are from a hike we took to Fish Creek Falls. Another afternoon of shopping in cute stores for Leslie, although Don was the one who found something to buy.
We got up early today and went in search of elk. It is a little early for the rutting season, but we found, what we believe are two young males, thinking about fighting. They stared at each other for quite a while, One of them slowly approached the other, they got close together, ate some grass and then one walked away bugling (2nd picture). We think he thinks he won, but there was really no contact.
The 4th picture is a moose running away. Leslie should have had more belief in her eyes. She thought she saw a moose by a lake near where we saw the elk. She decided it was a rock and we got involved in watching the elk. Someone told us there was a moose at the lake, but unfortunately by the time we got back, he was high tailing it to the woods. Oh well, we hope to see more moose in the Tetons.
It was such a beautiful day and we hiked to Bierstadt Lake. The first mile was a 725 foot gain with switchbacks. We rose very quickly and got some stunning views. The lake itself is quite beautiful also. We hustled back to the RV so we could get ready for a quick trip to Boulder. Turns out our youngest son was in Denver for business, so he met us for dinner at Avery Brewing in Boulder.
One more thing…we have had several questions about the blue band on Merlin’s face. It is a Gentle Leader, a head halter. Merlin is very exuberant when he is in public and new places and it helps him behave. It is not a muzzle and it does not hurt him.