Sunday, July 3, 2011

Above Clouds in Mount Evans

Mount Evans in Colorado, is the highest mountain in the USA whose peak that can be reached by road. Early in June, I drove up several times to the top at 14,150 feet to photograph the mountain goats and the Bighorn Sheep.  The first morning I suffered a slight case of altitude sickness but later on there were no further symptoms.  The weather was variable with complete cloud cover at times, strong winds and freezing point temperatures at the top.
The goats are easily approached or rather; they approach you at the Great House, the ruins at the peak.  It was a resort built in the 1930's that was destroyed in 1979; some said by fire, others by an explosion of a propane tank while it was refilled.

The goats were seen the first day at sunset and the next morning at sunrise, the sheep were never seen.  These are wild animals that are hunted during the fall, yet for some reason, they know that a certain times of the year humans are safe.

They come to the Great House to lick the salt applied to the sidewalks to melt the ice/snow, to prevent the two-legged animals from slipping and falling. While licking the salt, the goats are totally oblivious of people and they will come within arm reach. 
The mountain goats travel in families and my goal was to photograph newly born ones. But they were not brought to the Great House while I was there. Perhaps they were not born yet since this year had very long winter.  I found a similar situation with other species where new born were rarely seen during my 4,000 miles trip throughout the West that followed.

There are a few other animals to be seen just as the marmot above and an occasional raven at this time of the year.  At the lower attitudes mule deer and various smaller birds were seen, and at the entry to the park, hummingbirds were visiting the feeders.
The road to the top was spectacular but not as dangerous as those I have driven in Central and South America.  Two scenic stops come to mind, Echo Lake where several snow boarders were practicing their skills and the interpretative center near the Sequoia trees forest.  Some of the trees nearby are more than 2000 years old and they showed it.  The harsh weather sculptured the trees into very twisted and scared shapes.  These are a delight to photograph as the sun illuminates them at sunrise or sunset.


Anonymous said...

que excelentes imágenes José...ciertamente aprendo mucho viendo las fotos y lo detalles que ven tus ojos y se plasman a través de tus cámaras...
siempre es un gusto compartir aunque sea un ratito en tu blog
Marianito "el profe"

Ken Conger Photography said...

The tree shot came out great! Awesome marmot as well. Blue Skies.

Chris Tennant said...

Hey Jose,

Great shots! I probably don't appreciate how difficult it is to capture those images of birds. I like the farm scene and the tree has great light!

gidje said...

great shots. we went to mt evens the later part of June. Breadth taking views. We never were able to get to the summit due to the road being closed the last 4 miles. There was a lot of snow the days leading up to our visit. Wish were as lucky as you!