Saturday, September 10, 2016

Farewell to the Mountains

Labor Day was our last day in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. After eight weeks on the road, it's time to head back to the farm in Kansas to help with fall harvest. 

But there was still time for one last hike, the Ouzel Lake trail with its wealth of waterfalls and cascades.  

Our five-mile hike turned into nine miles when we mistook a horse trail for the real deal.  You'd think we would have noticed the steaming piles they left behind, but we just thought some equine had an upset stomach.  I guess the joke was on us!

Still, we did find the right trail eventually and it was worth the extra miles.  I'll let the following photographs speak for themselves.

Copeland Falls

Calypso Cascades

Ouzel Falls

On our way back to the campground, a herd of 40 to 50 elk stopped traffic as they crossed the highway from one meadow to another.

It's rutting season in Rocky Mountain National Park, the mating season when bull elk gather cows and calves into their harem of females.  The bulls wallow in the mud to cover themselves with their urine perfume in order to attract the females.  They also aggressively guard their harems from other bulls, sometimes fighting encroachers to the death.

Packing up that night, we saw this harem of elk who had wandered into the campground.

Leading the herd was a magnificent bull.  What a chance to see them up close--but not too close!

They must have been attracted to the lush grass of the campground and by the nearby Big Thompson River.

Big Thompson River at the rear of our campground

Wildlife, waterfalls, winding rivers and our week in this beautiful place made me feel that I, too, had gotten near to the heart of the world.

"As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.  I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche.  I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can." ~ John Muir

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