Living – Places: 7

2012 (continued)

Autumn grasses as we're heading up valley on the trail to Cub Lake.

The autumn colors glowed nicely in front of the snowy peaks

At Cub Lake, the water-lilies were like cups of sunshine.

The lily pads just glowed in front of the dark green forest

The autumn foliage on the trail up beyond Cub Lake.

This is the most colorful I'd ever seen this area; I'm grateful we got to see it like this before the fire

What is it about glowing golden aspen leaves that makes the sky look so blue?

The deep blue of the sky was startling

The glow of the aspens against the green of the pine forest.

The deep green of the forest beyond made the aspen glow look even brighter

Looking back at Cub Lake on the way over the hill.

A breathtaking scene, the likes of which we'll never see again in our lifetime

On the outskirts of Estes Park early in the morning, a sizable herd of elk crossed the road in front of us. The alpha male hung back until the entire herd was across, then gracefully leapt the fence, crossed the road and leapt the second fence. But then he turned around because one young elk was having trouble jumping the barbed wire fence.

An elder elk protects a youngster

The alpha male jumped back and ran out onto the road, protecting the young one from a couple cars that were stopped. He patiently waited until the young one finally made it across. Then he bugled to warn off a couple other large males that were following further down the road behind us, joined his herd, and led them up the hill.

The youngster took a while to figure out how to jump the fence

Tosh enjoying his first hike with poles.

The sound of the leaves in the breeze was enchanting

The aspens were so bright!

At one point as we were walking through them, a strong breeze kicked up and we found ourselves in a shower of gold.

Our first glimpse of Balanced Rock.

Startling ... how is this possible?

Looking up at Balanced Rock from below.

How has such a large boulder remained balanced on such a thin neck down the ages?

Garima framed in gold.

Her turqoise blue shirt really stood out in front of the golden aspens

One of my all-time favorite sections of trail.

I just love the way the trail leads through the aspens and then disappears over the hill. What's next?

Pear lake in autumn. One of our rare moments of sunshine for the day. Moments later, we huddled behind a large boulder to eat lunch, while graupel snow (like little styrofoam balls) bounced around us.

The rust covered grasses framed the lake beautifully

On the way back down, the sun came out again, lighting up the golden grasses of this area transitioning from marsh.

It's amazing how bright the glow of autumn can be

The sun came out again for about 15 minutes when we reached Finch lake, giving us a chance to warm up and enjoy the peaceful silence.

The forest reflection shimmered gently on the lake surface

The grasses along the shoreline were glowing in the sunshine.

And the lake grasses caught the light like brush strokes

A gorgeous view of reflected sky and clouds.

Moments after this shot, the sky filled with gray clouds and it began sprinkling. That was the last we saw of the sun.

Most of the Aspen leaves are off the trees now, but here and there we still saw some remaining brilliant stands.

I loved the contrast between the green forest, the brown of the marshy area, and the splash of gold from the aspens

The view up the hill into the deep blue sky from our lunch spot.

We huddled amongst rocks and bushes to stay out of the cold wind that was blowing down the valley

Once we had climbed up about 1,000 feet, we were hiking in snow. Hello, winter!

Garima spotted bobcat tracks in the snow here

Wallace Falls trail, northeast of Seattle, in the Cascades just north of Highway 2 to Stevens Pass. I think this is the wettest place I've ever been.

I struggled to capture the scale of the experience. We were surrounded by thousands of bearded trees in all directions and as far as we could see into the distance.

Once in awhile, the sun would break through momentarily and set the bearding aglow.

It felt like this is a place that is never dry

Could anything more possibly grow on this old stump?

An entire ecosystem on an old stump

A glimpse of Wallace river.

I've never seen so many ferns in my life. Thousands and thousands of them lined the hills along the river.

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