Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cub Lake

Our 20th anniversary trip to Estes Park included a hike to Cub Lake in RMNP. After spending much time setting up my camera to the right ISO and aperture setting for the shots I thought I'd be taking, the first truly photogenic thing we came across was a ground squirrel standing on his hind legs nibbling a wildflower ... completely in shade. Still cute, even if not as sharp as I'd like.

Thistles, however, are kind enough to give you the opportunity to set your camera properly.

We thought this insect might be a hummingbird at first, but couldn't get a good look at it because it was moving so fast. Thank goodness for exposures that only last 1/500 of a second. Hopefully friend of the program Mike Fisher will be able to provide an ID for it. And I didn't even notice the ants on the thistle stem until my third or fourth time looking at the picture!

UPDATE: As usual, Mike comes through. :)

The one nectaring on the thistle flower is a sphinx moth, specifically the White-lined Sphinx. Sometimes moths in this group are referred to as hummingbird moths. This species is sometimes seen during the daytime but they are most active in the early evening until sundown, particularly in urban areas.

The wildflowers were in bloom all along the trail. These Black-Eyed Susans were already past their prime.

It hasn't been a great summer for butterfly sightings on my hikes, but it was nice of this Weidemeyer's Admiral to pose. At least I think that's what it is. Again, I'll be reaching out to Mike Fisher for confirmation.

UPDATE: Mike confirms!

More Black-Eyed Susans, with eyes no longer so black but still striking.

Cub Lake had damselflies similar to those at Echo Lake a few weeks ago, but not as numerous.

We set up a little picnic lunch on the shores of the lake, and it was like we'd rung a dinner bell for the local fauna. Ducks, butterflies and a ground squirrel with a taste for Cabernet Sauvignon all crashed the party.

Oh, did I forget to share the postcard shot of Cub Lake? Shame the water lilies weren't still in bloom, but it was still gorgeous.

The trail had a lot of beaver ponds that look like they make nice watering holes for wildlife. We only saw ducks and a dead tree that I thought was a deer or elk, but they were still nice.

Dead wood. Still always visually interesting.

Signs of the approaching fall were everywhere, from the dying thistles to the browning meadows.

Danelle found the perfect remedy for her tired tootsies when we got back to the trailhead -- a soak in a snowmelt creek!

Really a beautiful hike. It took us a leisurely four hours to cover the 4.6 miles roundtrip, counting the lunch stop at the lake. Only about 500 feet of elevation gain to the lake, most of which comes in a fairly steep final half mile. Well worth the trip!

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