Posts Tagged ‘Alces alces’

Maroon Reflections

August 22, 2013

Fortunately for photographers North America had two sets of Rocky Mountains. The first peaks, known as the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, rose to lofty heights before erosion began to wear them down. The sediments from these giant mountains created a huge mudflat in central Colorado. The Ancestral Rocky Mountains were completely eroded away by the time the modern Rocky Mountains formed. The present mountains lifted from the earth elevating a few of these maroon mudflats with them. Those remnants of the first Rockies, known as the Maroon Formation, can be viewed at the Maroon Bells (Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak) in Aspen, Colorado as well as at the Flatirons above Boulder, Colorado.

Since I have already taken a gazillion panoramas of my hometown Boulder Flatirons I went to Aspen to get a dawn panorama of the “Deadly Bells” reflected in Maroon Lake. I tried this before but got rained on for 4 days. This time the weather cooperated and I joined a lineup of photographers at dawn…

Photographers Flock to the Maroon Bells

Photographers Flock to the Maroon Bells…The Most Photographed Mountains in Colorado

Here’s an upside down photo I captured from the reflection of Maroon Bells on Maroon Lake. Note the rocky sky…

The Maroon bells as Reflected In Maroon Lake

The Maroon Bells as Reflected In Maroon Lake

The dawns light forms a line which slowly descends the Bells…

The Bells at 5:45am

The Bells at 5:45am on 16 August 2013

The Bells at 6:10am

The Bells at 6:10am on 16 August 2013

Here’s someone’s timer-driven camera capturing a sunrise animation from a series of images…

Capturing an Animation of Sunrise on the Maroon Bells

Capturing a Video of Sunrise on the Maroon Bells

Later that morning I captured this view from an aspen grove above the Lake…

Maroon Bells From Aspen Grove 14 August 7:15AM @  39° 5'55.78

Maroon Bells From Aspen Grove 14 August 7:15AM @ 39° 5’55.78″N106°56’34.61″W

Maroon Lake forms the headwater of the Maroon Creek which flows down beautiful glaciated Maroon Canyon and on to hydrate the thirsty town of Aspen…

Maroon Creek Headwater

Maroon Creek Headwater

The flora of Maroon Canyon fill my memory…

Sunflowers Help Frame The Bells

Alpine Sunflowers (Tetraneuris grandiflora) Help Frame The Bells

The Fireweed is profuse…

Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)

Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)

Aspen Groves grow where the pines cannot…

Aspen Groves in the Maroon Canyon

Aspen Groves in the Maroon Canyon

Fossils show evidence of long times past…

Fossil Evidence of Early Vegetation

Fossil Evidence of Early Vegetation

Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) call this place home…

Ptarmigan with summer plumage

Ptarmigan with Summer Plumage

This one views me with some suspicion…

Soon the snows will fall and these feathers will be replaced with white ones

Soon this Rocky-Colored Camouflage will be replaced with Snow White Plumage

A small herd of Rocky Mountain Mighty Moose (Alces alces) has recently moved into the Canyon. Here’s a mom getting some breakfast, my first photo of a female moose…

Moose Cow Getting Breakfast.

Moose Cow Getting Breakfast.

Snack break over, it’s time to get back to her calf…

It's Time to Find Baby

It’s Time to Find Baby and Get Some Privacy

This is the only yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris) seen on this trip…

Yellow Bellied Super Marmots Did Not Reveal Their Presence

Yellow Bellied Super Marmots Did Not Reveal Their Presence

There were many sightings of Mountain Mandy in Maroon Canyon however…

Mandy (Canis lupus familiaris) takes a Break

Mountain Mandy (Canis lupus familiaris) Takes a Break

As does this grasshopper critter (I need some crowdsourcing help to identify this insect)…

Giant Grasshopper?

Giant Grasshopper?

It was a delightful week thanks to the Maroon Formation and I even captured my inner Summer panorama. I hope to go back in the Fall to collect some more colorful pixels.

Maroon Reflections

Maroon Reflections 14 August 2013 8:15AM MDT @ 39° 5’53.57″N, 106°56’32.52″W

Isabelle’s Warming Glacier lilies

July 14, 2013

On this adventure I was in hot pursuit of the elusive Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum). I figured that the best place to find them was near a glacier so Mandy the dog and I decided to head up to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area to check in on Isabelle, our local glacier and her high mountain wildflowers.

We started at the Brainard Lake Recreation Area which is our closest gateway to the Indian Peaks Wilderness…

We Start At The Brainard Lake Recreation Area

We Start At The Brainard Lake Recreation Area

The Indian Peaks form a dramatic backdrop for Brainard Lake. This Colorado Wilderness Area gets its name from a majority of its peaks having Native American names. Ogallala, Pajute, Pawnee, Shoshoni, Apache, Navajo, Arikaree, Arapahoe, and Niwot Peaks all reach well above 12,000 feet, making for breathtaking views of jagged summits that tower above green valleys and glacial lakes.

Brainard Lake and the Indian Peaks

Brainard Lake with the Indian Peaks Backdrop

From here it was a short hike to the Pawnee Pass Trail which will take us up past Long Lake and Lake Isabelle

The Pawnee Pass Trail To Long Lake and Lake Isabelle

The Pawnee Pass Trail To Long Lake and Lake Isabelle

We were being watched by a “Rocky Mountain Mighty Moose

Rocky Mountain Mighty Moose (Alces alces)

Rocky Mountain Mighty Moose (Alces alces)

Long Lake is a great place to cool off…

Mandy in Long Lake

Mandy in Long Lake

We arrived at Lake Isabelle after a two-mile/3.2 KM hike. The melting snow drifts and the Glacier feed the lakes and drive the wildflowers…

Melting Snow at Lake Isabelle

Melting Snow at Lake Isabelle

The Pawnee Pass Trail continues to climb above the Lake…

Lake Isabelle from the Pawnee Pass Trail

Lake Isabelle from Pawnee Pass Trail

As the trail ascends towards Pawnee Pass on the Continental Divide we encountered lots of receding snow. This is Glacier Lily territory.

There is Still Lots of Snow on the Pawnee Pass trail

There is Still Lots of Snow on the Pawnee Pass Trail

Mandy found another opportunity to cool off…

Mandy Wallows In The Snow

Mandy Wallows In The Snow

I finally spotted what we were looking for…

We Found the Yellow Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum Pursh)

We Found the Yellow Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum Pursh)

Yellow Glacier Lilies

Yellow Glacier Lily Trio

The roots of this plant feed deer, elk, and bighorn sheep. Grizzlies have been known to “cook” the roots of yellow Glacier Lilies in the sunshine. They know what the native people have learned: that the roots of this alpine plant aren’t pleasant when raw, but become sweet after a good heating. The roots of the yellow Glacier Lily were so valuable that they became a trading commodity in the Native American culture.

Because the Glacier Lilies bloom so early, they suffer reduced pollination in years of early snowmelt. Such “phonological dislocations” between flowering and pollinator activity are likely to become more common as climates warm. Glacier Lilies are being studied to determine the impact of warming on plants and their pollinators. These vulnerable lilies may become both an early warning and a victim of climate change.

I’m glad we were able to track down this pretty little flower before it’s too warm and too late…

The Last Lilies of the Alpine?

The Last Lilies of the Alpine?

A Spectacular Land of Volcanos and Earthquakes

July 20, 2012

I went to visit my local supervolcano two weeks ago to go camping in a caldera. You see, I live near a geological hotspot which is a place where lava or magma  approach the surface of the Earth. Hotspots are responsible for the formation of the Hawaiian Islands and for the geothermal activity in Iceland. This area of North America includes the Yellowstone hotspot. This is also a land of glaciers and major geological faults. The consequence of this convergence of  geological features is a zone of unique beauty encompassed within the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

It’s easy to imagine the powerful forces lurking just below the earth in Yellowstone. The last super eruptions that occurred 640,000 years ago formed the Yellowstone Caldera, home to dozens of geothermal features.

Here the gentle flowers of Summer are nourished by the fumes from hell…

Dragon’s Mouth Spring ( 44°37’31.90″N 110°26’8.35″W)

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a place where these forces of fire, ice and water combine to create a place of unsurpassed beauty….

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with Lower Falls Captured 9 July 2012 2:00pm @ 44°54’20.34″N 110°23’40.63″W

Looking North to Artist’s Point

Looking North into The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Thanks to being in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem the hearty animals of Yellowstone thrive…

This Snoozing American Bison (Bison bison) Became A Roadside Attraction

Roaming Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)

After a short drive south the geothermal effects of the hotspot fade and the land is dominated by the effect of a mighty earthquake which formed the youngest mountain range in the Rocky Mountains and the valley known as Jackson Hole. Here slippage along the 44 mile Teton Fault caused the dramatic topography of the The Teton Range

Grand Teton Dawn Vista Captured 12 July 2012 6:50am @ 43°52’51.12″N 110°34’46.74″W

Teton Reflections Captured 11 July 2012 7:20am @ 43°51’59.90″N 110°33’1.97″W

Here too the wildlife is abundant…

Schmoozing Moose (Alces alces)

Smooching Beaver (Castor canadensis)

I brake for Columbines…

Red Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea)

This is a land that was hard to leave…

Mount Moran Sunset from the Snake River Captured 10 July 2012 7:50pm @ 43°51’59.90″N 110°33’1.97″W

Rocky Mountain Mighty Moose

August 5, 2011

It was 4:30 am, an hour before dawn, and I was on my way to 8,200 ft/2500m Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. I was drawn by the vision of a sunrise on the Continental Divide reflected in the placid lake. An hour later I was rewarded for the abbreviated snooze. The backdrop (left to right) consists of Taylor Peak, Andrews Glacier, Hallett Peak, Tyndall Glacier, Flattop Mountain and Notchtop Mountain…

Dawn at Sprague Lake

Clearly I was not alone. Those folks in the canoe were looking at a young bull moose grazing on the other side of the lakebed (look to the left of the canoe at the edge of the shadow in the above photo…look closely…it’s small). So there I went to capture this magnificent sight. I found a suitable hideout in the closest thicket and got this shot…
This was not my first face-to-face with a bull moose  (Alces alces) and I’m smitten. There is something exceptionally compelling about this big, solitary, mostly peaceful, vegetarian giant of the deer species. This ungainly product of evolution has survived despite human behaviour at its worst and because of the recent benevolence of humankind. This is is a story of our redemption.
Since being hunted out of Colorado by 1900 their number has recently recovered thanks to a reintroduction program in 1978 and 1979 by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Two groups of moose (12 each year) from the Uintah Mountains and Grand Teton herds were transferred to an area just west of the Never Summer Range near Rand, Colorado. The Colorado herd (estimated to have expanded from the original 24 to nearly 700 in 1994) is scattered over a range that now extends to Winter Park in the south, and Steamboat Springs to the west. In 1980, visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park saw the first members of the herd that had migrated into the Kawuneeche Valley on the Western side of the Divide. Two thrill seeking cow moose were sighted by rangers on the Continental Divide at the Boulder-Grand Pass just a year later.  Since then their numbers are increasing on both sides of the Park. Who knows, this mighty moose might have left the Valley to strike out on his own crossing a 14,000ft/4267m mountain range to do so. Moose are like super deer.
Here are some moose facts…
Here in Colorado we have a subspecies called Shiras moose (Alces alces shirasi) which are the smallest of the subspecies of  moose. They are also known as Yellowstone or Wyoming moose.
Shiras Moose are the largest mammals of the Rocky Mountains.
The moose has a very thick, strong neck from which hangs a long, round flap of skin and hair called a dewlap, or bell.  This varies in appearance from moose to moose and occurs in both the male and female of the species.  Some dewlaps are fat and up to 20 inches long; some are short and thin; and some others may just be a tuft a hair. Bull moose have been observed contorting their bodies in order to urinate on their dewlap, thereby soaking it in their pheromone-rich urine. It drives the cows mad!
The moose has a top speed of 35 miles (55 kilometers) per hour. Those long spindly legs work well in snow and water too.
Moose are loners by nature and these largest members of the deer family rarely travel with more than one or two other moose companions.
Over a 20-year life span in the wild, bulls may reach a height of 6½ to 7½ feet (2-2.3 m) at the shoulder, and weigh from 800 – 1,600 pounds (360-725 kg). Cow moose are only slightly less imposing at 5 to 6½ feet (1.5-2 m) tall and 600 – 1,000 pounds (270-450 kg).
Both mature males and females can be extremely unpredictable. Rutting bull moose have charged horses, cars, and locomotives. The female is particularly protective of her calf.
The moose is a herbivore and is capable of consuming many types of plants and fruits. The average adult moose needs to consume almost 10 thousand calories per day to maintain its body weight.
Much of a moose’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation, mainly consisting of non-grasses, and fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch. These plants are rather low in sodium, and moose generally need to consume a good quantity of aquatic plants. While much lower in energy, these plants provide the moose with its sodium requirements, and as much as half of their diet usually consists of aquatic plant life.
Here are some more photos from my lakeside hideout…
That’s All Folks! ©Bullwinkle Studios

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