Aug 062010

Monday, August 02, 2010

I woke up early this morning. During the night I had woken up several times because I was cold, but synching the mummy sleeping bag around my head so that only my nose and mouth were showing helped keep me warm.

There is not much to do at camp in the morning, so I headed off towards the Fern Lake Trail. The dirt road was full of potholes, but nothing my Prius couldn’t swerve around. It reminded me a lot of a dirt road we took in Olympic National Park. The scenery was interesting, but there weren’t many places to pull over and take photos. At one point since there wasn’t anyone else on the road, I just stopped and took some photos from the road.

Fern Lake Trail proved to be pretty, but buggy as the whole hike was along a stream. Luckily my Off worked well and I escaped without too many bites. I brought my tripod, camera, lunch, and rain gear, so I was a little loaded down. However, I was happy for everything that I brought. I used the tripod the whole time to take lots of water photos. I found little critters to photograph, like chipmunks, squirrels, and various birds. I photographed flowers and bugs, too. I was hiking, not for speed, but for photos, and many people passed me.

At one point I was really lucky to turn my head towards a bird chirping to find a very large grouse (of some variety, Blue Mountain was a guess) just sitting on a log. The chirping sound was a hummingbird that was sitting nearby. Well over the course of about 30 minutes watching these birds, I was able to come quite close. Also, the humming bird hung around the whole time and the grouse never took a step. I was all of a sudden an expert on birds of the forest and everyone stopped to see what I was taking photos of. I noticed a second grouse under some branches, as well, but it was too hidden for photos. Eventually I moved on.

After 1.7 miles of hiking I came upon the first destination of the hike, The Pool. Everyone was here! It was noon and everyone had stopped for lunch at this beautiful spot. However, it was too crowded for me and I hiked on hoping to stop on the way back.

At this point in the hike, I did notice the rain clouds brewing in the distance, and I decided to keep hiking and use my rain gear if it did start to rain. It may be true all the time, but at least this week, the weather promises sun in the morning and then rain all afternoon and into the evening.

The hike at this point left the stream I was following and started following another stream. I stopped to take photos of a large, unnamed waterfall. At first I was curious if this was my destination (Fern Falls), but the mileage on my GPS told me it couldn’t me.

After another mile of hiking past The Pool, I found Fern Falls which was indeed impressive. Now that the clouds had rolled in, I waited around for the sun to go behind a cloud so I could get a good slow shutter speed photo of the falls. As I waited, I became the official photographer of the falls for every group and couple that came by. Finally the sun went behind the clouds and I got my photos in. Then, I decided to head back since the clouds were getting dark.

On the way back, I didn’t get as many photos because it did start to rain and I had to put the camera away. I did see a couple good photo opportunities, but with the camera stowed, I didn’t feel like setting it up again. This is why I love my new hiking method of using straps connected to my hiking backpack to hold my camera always out and ready while I hike. Unless it’s raining of course.

It was after 3 by the time I reached my car and starting to rain hard. I drove out to find a good place to eat some more of my lunch as the hike left me starving. I decided to stop and eat in the car at a location where I was yesterday. Yesterday, I saw Elk in the area so I was hoping to spot them while I ate. Well, no dice. But, after I ate and relaxed in my car (since it was raining), I drove another 500 feet down the road and there were all the elk! Haha. They were just around the bend. And there was an even bigger traffic jam than there was yesterday. The elk were much closer to the road and everyone was out taking photos even in the rain. I did see a ranger keeping an eye on people which made me happy as yesterday people were just hiking off the road to get to the elk. I grabbed a few photos myself since I saw some young bulls in the mix of cows. But, when I decided to leave, I saw two elk fighting each other, up on their hind legs. By the time I pulled over and got the camera, they were done. Oh well.

At this point, after a long hike in the morning, I wasn’t interested in much more hiking and the rain was not going to let up any time soon. So, I went into town to see if I could get my stove fixed and also pick up a few more provisions. I found an outfitter shop that offered to look at my stove. He took it out back and, surprise, it lit up just find for him. He was very helpful and told me that I needed to pump up the stove before lighting it. I assured him that I had pumped it more than enough times when I tried. Well, I guess he has the magic touch. So, feeling slightly silly, I took my stove back and was glad I’d have a warm dinner tonight.

It was still raining, so I went to the Beaver Meadow Visitor’s Center to charge my computer, type up some more of my journal, and use the wifi. I spent well over an hour getting the journal typed up, photos downloaded, and set several journal entries to start automatically posting once a day. So, hope you enjoy!
When I went back outside it had finally stopped raining, but it was too early to go to camp and go to bed. Actually, what I really wanted to do was see if I could find a sunset. So, I decided to head up Trail Ridge Road and see what I could see. It was definitely dusk as I headed up and I found a small group of 3 older bull elk laying around for photos. As I was stopped on the road taking photos, I got a knowing smile from an approaching car and a small wave of invitation to go farther up the road. Well, good thing I was there just then because a much larger herd of bull elk were crossing the road! Wow, what a sight! I couldn’t take enough photos. Luckily everyone else was taking photos as well because there was no pull off to stop the car and we were just stopping up the road. I was not in the right position to get the photo I really wanted, and I couldn’t exactly leave my car to move around. But, still I was happy.

Then, I drove a little further and found a parking lot with a small trail leading off. The views were spectacular, so I took my tripod and camera to take photos of the clouds hugging the mountains. I turned and saw that the elk were headed in my direction. So, I thought I’d see if I could hike back down the road to get a photo. But then, I turned around and saw that there was going to be an actual sunset! I had given up hope since there were just too many clouds. But for about 5 minutes the sky was red and gorgeous and I ran back the other way to get photos of the sunset instead.

Now it really was getting dark and I still hadn’t eaten dinner. It was probably about 9pm too. So, I decided that I was in a pretty area and had enough light to cook my dinner. Well, wouldn’t you know….I couldn’t get the stove to light. I figured it was probably too windy anyway, so I headed back down the mountain towards camp. By now it was pitch dark at camp, and I still couldn’t get the stove to light. I worked on getting that stove lit until I finally was too frustrated and gave up. Oh well. Good thing I bought some food that didn’t have to be cooked at the store today. I had my dinner and headed to bed. I won’t bother with the stove anymore this trip. It’s not worth it. My only guess is that it does not work due to elevation as town was a lower elevation and I had been able to make it work for me previously this trip.

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