Saturday, July 26, 2014

Staunton State Park

Got Zak and Ginny out for a hike today. Destination: Staunton State Park to do the 10.8-mile roundtrip trek to the Elk Falls Overlook, which was validated as an excellent choice by the guy at the Chick-fil-A drive-through window when we picked up breakfast.

Forecast called for thunderstorms rolling in fairly early.  So hitting the trailhead around 10:30 seemed like we would be racing the weather.  I took advantage of the good weather at the start to shoot some wildflowers like this milk thistle, figuring I might have the cameras in the backpack before too long.

Jim Hill Mustard
Alpine Goldenrod with a helpful pollinator, if not necessarily an attractive one.

Black Eyed Susan
Black Eyed Susan, which I've been told my Aunt Susie referred as a "Black-Eyed Me" when she was a little girl.

Bee Balm with Bumblebee
Bee balm with a diligent bumblebee.  Clouds had rolled in at this point and I couldn't quite get the depth of field I wanted in the lower light.

Mariposa Lily
Mariposa Lily.

Richardson's Geranium
Richardson's Geranium.

Staunton State Park: Bugling Elk Trail
It actually takes at least three trails to get to the overlook.  This peaceful creek runs alongside the Bugling Elk Trail.

Staunton State Park: Elk Falls
We had our heaviest rain right when we got to the overlook.  And as much I hate to say it, I was underwhelmed by the view.  The falls are around 300 feet tall, but more than a quarter of a mile away.  Didn't really get a view or a good photo.

Staunton State Park: Elk Falls Overlook
Zak and Ginny did give me a pose when the rain abated a bit.  But with thunder still rumbling we didn't stick around up at 9,150 feet too long.

Staunton State Park: Elk Falls Pond
Fortunately, the clouds moved in a different direction than the one we were heading and we had some nice sun when we got back to Elk Falls Pond.

Staunton State Park: Elk Falls Pond
Zak has figured out how best to spend time while I'm fiddling with my camera.  Of course, it does leave him vulnerable to shots like this one.

Staunton State Park: Elk Falls Pond
The pond was pretty, and other folks were taking advantage of the unexpected afternoon sun to just relax on its shore.

Staunton State Park: Bugling Elk Trail
The park is just a little more than a year old, and everything from the facilities to the trail signs is still nice and shiny.  Homespun touches like this are nice, too.

Staunton State Park: Bugling Elk Trail
As final resting places go, this rusting piece of old farming equipment didn't do too badly.

Staunton State Park: Staunton Ranch Trail
We kept nervously checking the skies, but managed to get back to the car with just a few random sprinkles.  Despite a bit of a disappointing payoff at the overlook the hike was great.  Only about 1,000 feet of elevation gain and very few steep stretches, well-maintained trails, and of course the beautiful Colorado outdoors.  And just a 40-minute drive from our house.  I recommend paying a visit!

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