In early July, this year, one of my twin sisters Pippa trekked through part of the Rocky Mountain National Park with her soon to be husband, Mike.
Rather like Nicola (my other twin sister), she has kindly forwarded me some photos taken on that trip, so it is my pleasure to draw up another "Guest Entry" on "Blue-Grey".
NB. This trek was taken between July 6th and 8th 2007, but as "Blue-Grey" is stuffed to the gills on those dates, I'm posting it on todays date, about 6 weeks too late. (Just as long as you are aware).
The Rocky Mountain National Park is located in the north-central region of Colorado, USA, northwest of "Boulder", Colorado and not too far from Denver. I am led to believe that the entire park is divided between two owning families - the Carringtons and the Colbys... (ok, that bit is untrue).
The entire area features magnificent views of mountains, forests, lakes and a whole host of wildlife including (if you are EXTREMELY fortunate): Moose, Mule Deer, Cougar, Grizzly Bear, Bobcat, Porcupine, and Coyote.
I am told that July and August are the best times to visit, temperatures during this period of the year can reach the 80s, although thunderstorms (and hailstorms...!) are common.
My sister walked through a large part of the park, as I've said, and stopped off at a wonderful lake called "Nymph lake" pictured below. These wonderful photos (almost pc wallpaper standard I suppose!) shows the grand natural beauty of this lake and its mountain backdrop. I am led to believe the conifers at higher altitudes in the park are mainly "Douglas Firs". Good job.
Now, Pip, correct me if I'm wrong, but a little research on the interweb has led me to assume that the two mountains in the background (separated by Tyndall Gorge? at around 10,000 feet a.s.l?!) are Hallett's Peak (the flatter appearing one to the LHS) and "Flat Top Ridge" (the more jagged appearing mountain to the RHS? (although the Flat Top IS flat behind these jagged peaks!).
Nymph lake is situated a walk away from other magnificent lakes such as Emerald, Dream and Bear Lakes.
Pip saw a lot of great "critters" during this trip, including the three described below:
Mule Deer -
named because of their Mule-like ears. These were seen at very close quarters right on the roadsides, nibbling the shorter grass. These deer exhibit classic stotting or pronking behaviour when alarmed, ie bounding away in leaps, all four feet landing on the ground at the same time!
A very nice photo of one too!
Gray Jay -
Much like our European Jay, Pip says - very comical, almost tame in fact. These birds are also known as "Camp Robbers" or "Whisk(e)y Jacks", because of their cheeky thieving behaviour. They do store food in a cache, like our own jays, but need cool temperatures for this, to stop the food spoiling, and because of general warming temperatures (climate change etc...) the Gray Jay is dwindling in the south of its range, and moving further north generally.
Now then. This is where it gets a tad complicated. The Moose is the largest species of Deer in the world. If you are American, its a Moose. If you are European, its an ELK. The ELK however in America is the second-largest species of Deer in the world - a species almost identical to the Red Deer in Scotland.
So... to summarise:
MOOSE (USA nomenclature only). Largest species of Deer in world. Lanky legs.
ELK (USA). 2nd largest deer (rather like Scotlands Red Deer).
ELK (EUROPE). What North Americans call a Moose.
Get it? Got it? Good.
Just for your information, the actual word "Moose" comes from the Eastern Abnaki word "Moz". (Eastern Abnaki is a language spoken by the ancient Penobscot Native Indian Tribe of the Maine region of the USA, whose last speaker died in Maine in the 1990s).
Adult bull Moose (NOT Meese like Geese!), can weigh up to three-quarters of a ton - you don't want to run a Moose over - it will die, and so, possibly will you!
I've posted a wonderful photograph sent to me by my sister - her and Mike watched this adult and calf graze on trees nearby.
That's the Rocky Mountain National Park in a tiny wee nutshell for you. I'm sure one could write a whole blog on this (obviously) fascinating, awe-inspiring wildnerness.
Maybe one day Anna and I will get to see it, and I can do my Grizzly Adams** impression...!
** James "Grizzly" Adams DID actually exist, and DID roam about (mid 1850s) the mountains of California, mainly, getting friendly with Grizzly bears called Ben.
I've got no idea whether he did look like Dan Haggerty of the 1970s film and tv show though.
NB. If you are a soppy old get like me, and you'd like to hear the theme tune to Grizzly Adams again, click on the word Grizzly (above) and follow the link. (just don't blame me if you start blubbing...).
Me... I'm off now.
I'm filling up.... sob sob!