Living – Places: 10

2013 (continued)

Lone pine atop rock wall near the entrance to Buttonrock Preserve.

Salmon-colored rock wall with splashes of yellow lichen and a lone, gnarled Ponderosa on top

Another view of a lone pine atop a rock wall.

Pine. Rock. Sky.

A third view of a lone pine atop a rock wall. I was using a new lens, a 75mm four thirds (equivalent to a 150mm lens in the 35mm format) that helped me look at my surroundings on this familiar walk in a new way, so that I was focused on different aspects of the environment. What a gift!

I sometimes wonder how these lone trees ever found purchase on these high rock outcroppings

Painted rock wall.

Rock wall with splashes of orange and yellow lichen

Painted stream bed.

Vibrant green areas of algae paint the stream bed

Painted water surface.

Hints of a deep blue sky play across the rippled surface of the water interspersed with areas of dark slate gray

Sparkling water.

The sun sparkles on the surface of an area of water washing up over ice

My favorite stand of poplars. [A year later: I wonder if they are still there after the catastrophic flooding that happened in this canyon? We still haven't been able to return here more than five months after the floods.]

A stand of white trunks silloetted against a salmon-colored rock wall

Waiting for spring.

The tips of the poplars, rich with buds, stretch up into the endless blue sky

Ice, snow, wind, sun.

One of my favorite photographs: the snow on ice looks like the reflection of sun on water

Forget me not.

The quarter moon hangs in the deep blue midday sky

Garima had just finished this rock cone, which graces our front yard, when the snow gave it a new look.

Fresh snow outlines a rough stone cone

What's a kangaroo doing in Colorado?

Garima intended to sculpt a fox, but it sure looks like a kangaroo to me!

A morning hike through an enhanced reality at Buttonrock Preserve.

Snow frosted trees make both of us so happy!

Delicate icicles.

This small icicles hanging off the tips of ponderosa needles are the smallest I've ever seen

The North St. Vrain River (formally named "Creek," but we all call it "River")

The river glides gently through a course of snow capped boulders and rocks

A story told by a pair of deer mice.

A pair of delicate tracks crossing along the top of the snow

Mount Meeker and Longs Peak above the reservoir at Buttonrock Preserve.

Such a majestic sight

The rock formation from which I took the photo of Mount Meeker and Longs Peak.

The Sleepy Lion Trail passes through so many beautiful areas

Ponderosa bark

I love the orange hues of some of the ponderosas

Elk on the drive into work early in the morning.

They were running back and forth along the highway waiting for a break in the traffic in order to cross

We had an unexpectedly large snowfall Friday night and Saturday. In the afternoon, it was warm enough to melt a little bit of the snow, but not much, then it turned very cold last night (5 F) and only warmed up to barely 20 F today. This caused something along the river we had never seen before: all of the rock faces were decorated with icicles … there were thousands of them.

Icicles hanging on a rock face at Buttonrock

Spring paradox. What's springtime like when you live in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains? On the weekend of April 13 - 14, we enjoyed sunshine and temperatures in the mid-to-upper 60s F. On Monday, April 15, it started snowing, and the temperature fell to 25 F that night. On Tuesday, April 16, we had 18" of snow. The temperature barely got above freezing. That evening, it started to rain. On Wednesday, Apr 17, the snow (and everything else) was coated with ¼" sheet of ice. Then it started snowing like crazy on top of the ice. Thank goodness ponderosa pines are tough! On Thursday, April 18, the temperature barely got above freezing, but it was sunny, so the snow in the branches started melting. Then overnight, the temp plummeted to a low of 10 F, and icicles formed on the branches. It's cool to see where the idea of hanging tinsel in trees must've come from. By Friday morning, April 19, the temperature was heading back up (eventually into the 50s) and it was a crazy beautiful morning. Looking east from our deck.

The view down our short driveway after the fresh snowfall

Looking northwest from our deck.

The view of our yard after the fresh snowfall

The icicles were sparkling in the sun, and many were hanging at crazy angles because they must've frozen hanging down, then the branch they hung from must've sprung up after losing a lot of snow weight. If you look closely at the upper-right center section of this photo, you can see where one icicle is hanging straight down, and another one just in front of it is hanging outward at a crazy angle.

Snow covered ponderosa pine with icicles hanging at crazy angles

On the weekend of April 20 - 21, the temperatures were back up in the 60s F, and all the snow began melting away. On Monday, April 22, we woke to sunshine with temps rising into the 40s F. The snow was almost all gone. Then the temperature started to plummet. By mid-morning it was below freezing (32 F) again and it had started snowing. On Tuesday, April 23, we woke to 10" more snow. It started to snow again, and we got another 2". Then the clouds quite suddenly dissipated, the sun came out, the temperature shot back up above freezing, and the snow began to melt away. It was another crazy beautiful morning.

Snow-laden pines reflecting the early morning sunshine

For the rest of the week, the temperatures climbed and all the snow melted away again. On the weekend of April 27 - 28, we enjoyed sunshine and temperatures in the upper 70s F. We enjoyed a hike, including a picnic at the side of the reservoir, basking in the sun. On Monday, April 29, it was sunny and 75F. On Tuesday, April 30, it began to rain in the evening, heavily. On Wednesday morning, May 1, we woke to about 6" more snow, and it continued snowing like crazy all day long. The temperature got up to just below freezing, then fell to a low of 18 F overnight. On Friday morning, it was sunny again, with the temperatures headed toward the 50s F!

A view of our home on another gloriously sunny morning after

The view on the drive into work Friday morning.

The snow covered hills west of our area

We had a series of thunderstorms in the afternoon, then the clouds cleared and the skies were blue looking north. Just as evening was settling over us, our house was shaken with a series of loud, rumbling thunderclaps as a solid bank of clouds swept north over us bringing crazy winds and hard rain. In the last moments before dusk, the view was quite unlike anything I've seen before. Our yard was dark, the sky overhead was heavy with dark clouds, but the distant sky above the horizon was still light blue and the far hills were bathed in the last hazy light of the day. I grabbed my camera and set up my tripod as quickly as I could, and had to take a long exposure to capture the scene, so you can see the motion in the trees from the wind, but this shot does suggest the awe inspiring beauty we experienced in those last minutes before nightfall. Then it was suddenly fully dark and the rain began falling hard and steady; such a gift after our long, dry winter!

Omniously dark sky with a band of blue skies and sunlit distant hills beneath

It has been a slow spring this year. Here it is nearly mid-May already and most of the trees still don't have their leaves, which is at least three weeks behind last year. But we've also had lots of spring snow and rain, so the soil is moist and there are lots of little brooks and creeks running; whereas last spring it was bone dry at this time.

Moss and lichen party on a rock

The mosses are really celebrating all the moisture they've received.

Bright green mosses on a steep hillside

Tiny mosses covering a rock.

A rock bristling with moss

Spring Beauty

A small bunch of Spring Beauty flowers

The barrel cacti are swollen up bigger than we remember ever seeing them.

The magenta flowers on these two were stunningly vibrant

Star Lily

A small bunch of Star Lily flowers

Rings and rays

An old, very weathered tree stump

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