Tuesday, December 2, 2014

RMNP: December 2014, Part I

I spent the afternoon at Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday, and to say the crowds were sparse would be a gross understatement.  The entrance booths weren't even staffed, in apparent anticipation of the light attendance.  I passed only a handful of other cars the entire time I was there, but that's certainly not a complaint.  Feeling like you have a place as special as RMNP nearly all to yourself is pretty amazing.

Alluvial Fan, Rocky Mountain National Park
I parked in the west lot for Alluvial Fan for the first time since the September 2013 floods, and I was stunned at the impact on the area.  The trail was completely wiped out, though a new one had been smoothed.  Rocks, sand and gravel covered a wide area, and the path of the water had been changed substantially.  Still, the cascades are striking in spots -- especially with a little snow and ice mixed in.

Alluvial Fan, Rocky Mountain National Park
My love affair with running water continues.  Zooming on the area in the center of the wider shot above and switching to black and white provides a completely different perspective on the scene.

Alluvial Fan, Rocky Mountain National Park
Ice had formed along the edge of the water in an interesting formation.  Freezing the flow beneath it in mid-splash was a nice bonus.

Magpie, Rocky Mountain National Park
The Black-billed Magpies at the trailhead must have been used to handouts, because they descended on me while I ate a snack.  Their close proximity gave me a chance to get a few shots, and they were clearly comfortable enough with me to do a little grooming.

Magpie, Rocky Mountain National Park
I love the iridescence in the feathers of birds like mallads and magpies.  The dark blue and emerald tinges on the head, shoulders and chest aren't something I'd noticed before.

West Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
The weather was rather odd.  Sparse clouds raced through the sky overhead down in the meadows, while much thicker clouds hung over the peaks that never broke up but also never descended.

Mule Deer Buck, Rocky Mountain National Park
I didn't encounter any elk, bighorns or wild turkeys like I have in past visits.  But I did come across a small mule deer buck watching over a three-doe harem on Trail Ridge Road.  He gave me this indication that he thought I'd gotten close enough for his picture.

Click here for Part II.

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