Living – Places: 14
Today's hike was about soft winter tans and blues, a steep climb, and endless vistas on the Nighthawk Trail in Hall Ranch. We climbed up into this area.
Off in the distance a butte watched over everything.
The trail was pretty steep most of the way.
As we got higher, the vistas opened up. Here we could see out towards the east. The furthest foothill is the one across from our home.
Looking towards the west up into the more rugged hills leading up to the Rockies.
Most of the time when we're hiking in the Rockies, we can't see much of the trail, but today at one point we could look back downhill and see where we had come from.
After a few hours we crested a hill and finally saw our beloved mountains. This is where we ate lunch.
We could see far into the distance in every direction.
The grasses danced beautifully in the wind.
Forested hills climbing off into the distance.
Walking down the trail back towards home.
The theme of today's hike was sky. And warmth. We enjoyed basking in a sunlit 60 degrees F, knowing that the snowstorm blowing into tonight will bring a high of 20 F tomorrow and low near zero tomorrow night. Ah, life in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains!
Mountains and sky
The Twin Guides, Mount Meeker and Longs Peak
Today's hike was about a magical white landscape contrasting with an endless blue sky.
On Thursday night it started raining, then froze, and then snowed overnight, so that Friday morning we had to shovel out about 7" of very heavy snow. Friday night and on and off all day Saturday it snowed about another 10", though lighter and fluffier, so we ended up shoveling a couple times more on Saturday. We have a fairly steep and long driveway (about 150 yards), so we ended up feeling pretty sore by the time we fell into bed last night.
When we woke up in the morning, it was foggy and gray, so we figured it would be a good day to hang out inside and rest our aching muscles. But then the sun broke through and we had no choice but to grab our packs, pull on our gaiters, and head for the hills. From the moment we stepped out the door, we were in an enchanted wonderland. We went over to the nearby Hall Ranch, where the snow had transformed everything, and hiked up the Nighthawk Trail. By evening, we could barely move, but it was totally worth it! Here's the view stepping out our door.
The entrance to Hall Ranch.
The butte near the entrance of Hall Ranch.
Old cabin beneath striated cliff.
Climbing up into to trees.
The snow changes everything.
Garima beside a snow loaded juniper.
Hiking downhill through mountain mahogany bushes.
Garima beneath a snow-laden ponderosa.
Looking up into the ponderosa.
Looking up a hillside of mountain mahogany.
A barn provides a splash of color in a white world.
I've been a bit in denial about the flood … it's hard for me to come to grips with the fact that so much of the beauty I appreciated has been ripped away. Yesterday, about five months after the floods, I finally was able to take a walk along a portion of the river I used to walk all the time. Even after all this time, I was pretty stunned by what I saw. On the other hand, I could tell that all of this is nothing new for the land and river itself. The river has returned to channels it has run in before; it's just not where I am used to seeing it.
Today we walked along the same way and I finally took some photos, the first I've been able to take of the aftermath of the flooding. All the upheaval does give us a chance to rethink how we treat the river corridor. Previously, we pushed the river into channels that were convenient to us. Perhaps now we can create a better design that allows the river to meander back and forth as it is wont to do, that makes room for more ponds and wetland areas, and that gives the river space to expand during normal spring flooding and even extraordinary flooding without causing lots of destruction. Garima and I are on a volunteer working group that is drafting initial plans for the long-term recovery and improvement of the river corridor, and I'm happy to see that almost everyone involved is thinking along these lines.
An iconic sculpture created by the flooding.
This was a lush field where grass-fed cattle grazed, an idyllic country scene. The river used to be over amongst the line of trees nearer to the cliff wall. Now you can see that it swings wide through the field. When it was flooding, it entirely covered the field, depositing tons of silt.
This is the river in its new channel (at least in recent memory).
This shot is looking the other way down this field. The river used to be over in the trees on the left.
The river used to run through here. During the flooding, the asphalt road that used to be here was entirely washed away as the river swung across the valley until it was turned by a cliff wall. Here's a photo of that wall that I took a few years ago: goo.gl/JX8kcp. You can see that water has run along the wall at some time in the past.
At the peak, the flooding covered this entire area, depositing countless tons of river rock around the trunks of the trees that stayed standing. This used to be a marshy area slowly being reclaimed by grasses, until the river created its new channel here.
Another view of the torn up banks and the tons of river rocks deposited high above the normal river level.
One winter I took a photo of a magnificent beaver dam at this spot (http://goo.gl/NzOcrf). The river used to flow into this spot from the right side, with a little trickle coming from a marshy area on the left.
This is a pretty typical scene along the river, with the river carving out a new channel and lots of downed trees.
I'm pretty sure these two images are from the same stretch of the North St. Vrain river in Buttonrock Preserve. The left image is one I took in early March of 2013. The second is a satellite image in Google Earth from October 6, 2013. While the perspective is a bit different, you can get a sense of the before and after.