Monday, October 18, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

OK, I'm sorry for the bad cliche in the title, but you guys, these mountains. I don't think it is ever possible to take them for granted. They are just so beautiful. (Full photo set here).

On Saturday we drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park. We took the dog, even knowing that she would only be allowed on roadsides and not on any of the trails. This was the right choice--at 12,000 feet, I was also getting pretty out of breath, and the weather was cool, so we were able to leave her in the shady car for a few minutes while we walked short trails, and we had no desire to do anything longer.

Because seriously, look what you could see without even taking any long hikes. I'm sure the hikes were absolutely stunning as well, and at some point when I'm not pregnant and the weather is a little warmer we will go back and do a couple of them, but this trip (including the $20 park entrance fee) was totally worth it just for the beauty of the drive.

We were really lucky with the timing--it was possibly the last temperate weekend of the season. You could clearly see that the mountains that high have already had some snow this year, but while we were up there, it was sunny and clear, though cool and windy.

It's mostly pines up there (that is, where there are trees at all--some parts of the park are above tree line), so it wasn't the awesomest in terms of fall foliage, but there were just enough changing aspens to satisfy our desire for colorful trees.

September and October are also elk mating season. Everyone told us we were likely to see elk, but my hopes weren't high--it seems like we never see exciting wildlife, even when people swear that we are in prime viewing areas. (See: moose and bighorn sheep, which I feel like I've been looking for for YEARS and yet have never seen.) But then! We were really high up, above 11,000 feet, figuring it was probably too high for elk, and then we came around a bend and there one was, standing so still we both briefly thought it was a statue. But then she crossed the road and started to walk away, and we both came to our senses and grabbed for the camera.

And there were even MORE elk, after that. We saw herds and HERDS of them, big groups grazing in meadows all over the place. I didn't even both trying to count how many of them we saw. Did you know that elks make a sound called "bugling"? I had never heard such a sound in my life until this weekend. It pretty much just sounds like screaming, but it is awesome. Apparently the males do it to keep their females together and to signal to other male elk in the vicinity how big they are. And the other males bugle back to signal that they are even bigger.

I seriously love these mountains. I don't think I've ever seen anything more stunning than the Rockies in my life, and I feel so grateful to get to live so close to them. And to be having a baby who will grow up with them. I hope they are in his blood from the day he is born.


  1. I love RMNP! The elk rut was one of my favorite times up there too!

    You should buy a National Parks pass- then you can head up there as much as you want for the next year.

  2. Gorgeous! The mountains are breathtaking. I've only ever seen them from a plane, but you have convinced me that I need to see them and soon.

    Lucky you & lucky baby Piglet!

  3. Moose are the scariest. Be glad you didn't see any.

  4. Breathtaking! I am soo envious. Nothing much to see in our city.

  5. Ah, these pics just say "Home" to me. I love the Rockies.


  6. Absolutely gorgeous. I can never take stuff like that for granted, either.

  7. Don't ever apologize for referencing John Denver. I openly admit to loving him and all his wonderfully cheesy music. :-)

    Your photos are incredible! I was looking at all of them yesterday and was just blown away. Looks like it was a perfect day for a fall drive. Glad you got to see some elk!

  8. so pretty!! i've been to RMNP twice now, and i suspect it would *never* get old to roam around there.

  9. And *this* is exactly why we can't come out to Denver ... because would surely never return to the much less beautiful Midwest. =) BTW, you and Torsten look great!!