Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spring with a capital S

Things popping out right and left, I can hardly keep up. And the weather will not stay consistent, rain, sleet, snow showers yesterday, then blue skies and blazing sunshine. Giant wind today - keeps you hopping.

That is a hoof emerging!
The elk and deer are all over the place and the big news is the elk have started having their babies. We accidentally came upon an elk in the labor process while hiking. She didn't get up and run away when she saw us, which is clearly not elk behavior, and we quietly walked away still not understanding the significance. Realized when we got home and looked at the photo I'd taken. That was courtesy of the great zoom I have now - she was not close. Next, a brand new elk calf was all by itself barely able to walk at the mudhole as Mark and I drove by at separate times. We were worried it was abandoned, but later in the day it was gone, mommy came back it seems.

fake dynamite a neighbor put in
trash dump from at least one cabin - lots of tinned food eaten apparently
old washtub
excuse me, why are you here?
another cave!
Our hike was a lot of fun. It was actually on Star Mt., believe it or not, in an area that neighbors had told us about but we'd never been. A whole other set of old mining cabins - how did they live and make it through the winters here?

Still a tad early to put out hanging baskets and herbs but we're ready to jump on it when freezing temps abate.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hummingbirds, elk, exploring, and Happy Memorial Day!

Hope everyone is having a terrific Memorial Day weekend! Our weather has been great, but I hear not everyone's is cooperating. In spite of that, let's celebrate all our military and their loved ones...

Hummingbird mania is upon us. We added another big boy feeder to help with the endless refilling, which has helped, but given we aren't even in peak numbers yet (the crazy orange Rufus haven't arrived ), we've decided to order two more to replace the smaller ones. We sadly did have a few casualties last week when the temps dropped below freezing. These little birds do not do well in cold, so its a mystery why they get here before freeze date ( June 10). Yes it's very late here - our daffodils are still blooming - the end of May!

The elk continue to stay with us and we got to see a group of them playing around on the piles of dirt at our neighbors property across the road. They are starting construction on a house and the elk took advantage of the quiet to play who's king of the castle (or queen in this case). And for those of you who've expressed concern we have a house going up close to us, it is different after not anything for 4 years, but they will be a good distance away tucked way close to their woods as we are to ours. No issue I think.

We went exploring to Lake City, an old mining town an hour south of Gunnison. While the mining influence is still very evident with old operations dotted around, it's been transformed into a complete recreational place with river, Lake Cristobal, places to hike,horseback ride, and a cute town. The crowd had evidently not shown up yet as most of the stores and restaurants were closed even on Memorial weekend.

Mark snapped a photo of a neighbor
We took a different road back - a cutoff, not to be confused with a shortcut, and it definitely was not shorter. Fun to see a new area, with homes (part of the Blue Mesa HOA) and large plateaus above Blue Mesa, and in part we drove through an area apparently owned by the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. Large signs indicating basically do not get out of your car and touch or walk on anything...okay then.
Local news: anyone remember the story of the young bear who woke up way too soon and was captured by Roaring Judy? He was released a few days ago way up on Red Mountain. He gained 100 lbs in captivity (was only a scrawny 25lbs when caught) and now is very healthy and raring to go bear. He jumped out of the cage and never looked back. Nice story...
And we got the scoop on new ownership of the Kochevar bar on Elk St. when dining at Soupcon - it's Chef Jason! We were the only customers that night (they'd just opened back up after off season) so time for talking. Spectacular food as always, and everyone seems excited about the bar purchase - its right behind Soupcon. No big changes in food over there, definitely remaining a bar type place.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Deer, flowers, and hiking

Things changing every day right now- snapping pictures as fast as I can. Hurray Spring!

Mark with "mini" Pinnacles
looking over at Blue Mesa
You can see where the water level normally is
We went on our first hike of the season - Dillon Pinnacles. These are amazing rock formations formed by volcano starting 65 million years ago. It's out by Blue Mesa, passed the entrance many times, and never stopped. Well worth it! 4 miles round trip, some incline but not bad, well marked trails with benches dotted here and there for a rest and a look at the view. Facts I learned: it's made up of a strato volcano, same kind as Mt. Fuji, Mt St. Helens, and others. And that cute multicolored mossy stuff on rocks (lichen) actually helped break down the pinnacles into the shapes they are now - it took millions of years of course.

Lots of early wildflowers out including cactus blooming. Well, it is arid land over there...

More deer are here, including a sighting of Flap this morning! Too far to take a photo, but the famous ear flap was easily recognized through binoculars..

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fishing and tons of wildlife goings on

New things happening every day. Great time of year. And my woods walk continues to be magical and almost mystical.

snowmobile tracks still on the ice
Went on a new adventure taking the one man pontoon boat that's been sitting in the garage for the past 4 summers (thanks George!) up to Taylor Reservoir. Mark zipped out to fish with ice melting enough in the last week to maneuver around. 39 degrees to start out up there! I painted, we had lunch, he caught two rainbows (kept them - dinner tonight) and a small northern pike.

Caught this bald eagle fishing at the reservoir. Hurray new camera!

First chipmunk sighting this morning, and saw two deer yesterday. This fox was successfully hunting out by our garage.

The hummingbird population continues to swell. Two dozen plus is the best estimate. The third feeder has come out - the big boy (thanks Lisa!).

the elk are all losing their winter coats - pretty scraggly
Lots of elk all over Star Mt. They are wandering here and there, but still crazy skittish of the least little noise. I caught  some photos of a dozen racing out of Star Mt. across Ohio Creek spooked by something. Luckily that road has very few cars on it.

a perfect fan
I knew the elk were hiding in the woods when I walked this morning, but saw nary a one. Did see a grouse and it saw me, doing the famous "eye" and hooting at me to keep me away from the female and probably their nest. These are not the Gunnison sage grouse I've mentioned before that are causing road closures, etc. for nesting protection - merely ordinary dusky grouse.
Local news: As unbelievable as it sounds, they are tearing up Taylor River Rd again, this summer for some unnamed period of time. It's all the part that wasn't done last summer Almont on up. They are actually closing the road starting the 28th and detouring everyone to Jack's Cabin cutoff. For those of you who know the area - a big mess right??