Monday, November 20, 2017

Copper Mt with snow

A few photos to post.   Big machines making snow on the ski slopes in the early morning.

Natural snow from a storm on Friday night.  The skiers were happy to have fresh new snow on a Saturday morning.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sparrow has landed

Since the season has ended at Grand Tetons, I have spent most of my time in Utah.  A few days birding at Great Salt Lake revealed that this is too early for most of the winter ducks to have arrived.  Thousands of Coots, and Shovelers, Ruddy Ducks and Eared Grebes, and many Avocets.  I love Avocets.  A photo from a few years ago.
     I spent a week in Moab, in the SE corner of Utah.  Fall is very pleasant and colorful in Moab. Yellow Cottonwoods, red sandstone cliffs, and blue skies reflected in the Colorado River.  2 photos from previous trips  in the area.  I also visited Hovenweep NP, a collection of  ancient structures built by the Puebloan people about 1200 AD (or CE).   I drove a loop thru Colorado and Denver to take care of a few errands.  Great Sand Dunes NP was a fun place to visit for the morning.  90 % of the park is undeveloped for preservation of the unusual landscape and habitats.  Visitors are allowed to hike on the dunes in the 10 % of the publicly accessible park.
By Monday of this week I had been accepted at Copper Mountain Ski resort for this winter.  I will be working with the guests who come to stay in the ritzy townhouses and condos.  Copper Mt is located one hour west of Denver on hwy 70, near Silverthorne. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Season's ending

After several days of inventory and counting, we closed the Gift Shop on Friday, cleaned our rooms, and departed for various locations across the country.  Co-workers went to Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Texas and more.  
    Photos taken by co-worker, David, of me counting stuffed animals.  41 Raccoons and 26 Black Bears.

I drove into Utah to do some birding at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge.  I was horrified to see so many people out hunting ducks in the refuge with guns, boats, and wearing waders.  This is supposed to be a REFUGE for ducks to rest and eat and be peaceful.
     After one night in the area, I drove south to Moab.  Its a laid-back small city in the middle of canyon country.   Arches NP and Canyonlands NP are nearby, as are many miles of mountain bike trails.  The hostel is cozy, convenient, and cheap.  I have done a few morning hikes while doing computer work in the afternoon.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

When leaves are

as pretty as the summertime flowers.  Huckleberry bushes, Mountain Ash, and Dogwood are out-competing each other for brilliant color.

 Aspens are still holding onto their green leaves for another week or two. 

Bears have come down from the high country to eat berries and other good things before hibernation.  This one caused quite a "bear jam" on a narrow road when it stopped to drink from a puddle.

Moose are fun to watch. Mama Moose had 2 little ones in early summer.  They were foraging near a creek one morning.

Smoke from the wildfires in Idaho, Montana, and Washington has finally blown out. Mid-September a series of storms came across northern Wyoming and persisted for 10 days.  Rain, snow, cloudy skies, more rain and low temperatures had us thinking winter was coming early.  Yellowstone Park is higher in elevation and received alot more snow.  3 entrances and several roads were closed, trapping some guests in Yellowstone until the roads could be cleared and opened.

Friday, September 1, 2017

noticing August flowers

In early August I walked around a small pond to the north, and re-visited a mountain top that had been covered with flowers. Wildflowers have noticed the subtle changes in soil moisture and sun intensity.  Lupines are giving up for the season, as are the Salsify, and the Scarlet Gilias.  Bluebells, Yarrow, and small Sunflowers are doing well.  Musk Thistles are in full bloom by August, and are a favorite food for Goldfinches.  Buckwheat, an early bloomer, is turning pink and setting seeds. Geranium flowers are passed, leaving their large Delphinium leaves to turn  yellow and red.  The bright yellow flowers of Arnica and Balsamroot are gone, only the leaf clusters remain drying quickly in the August heat.
     Paintbrush, Fireweed, and Asters are maintaining their bright colors along the trails.

above red leaves from the Wild Geranium.
Asters to the left.

This is a mountain meadow I had not visited before.

Smoke from wildfires in Montana and Idaho has been giving a hazy look to our mountains, not the clear summer views guests hope to photograph.  Yellowstone is also affected by the smokey skies.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Park

     So much preparation !  Designated eclipse viewing areas were announced, extra porta-a-potties, and extra dumpsters were in place in the park by the weekend.  Park Service waived entrance fees for the day to facilitate the heavy flow of traffic that was expected to enter the park. While preparations were good, crowds were less than expected inside the park.  All the campgrounds and rented cabins are usually full during the summer, anyway.
     Umbra-philes stayed in the southern part of the park because the Gros Ventre area was forecast to have 2 1/2 minutes of totality. Signal Mountain Lodge area had 2 mins of totality.  And what an amazing 2 mins it was !  All guest services were closed for 45 mins so that all employees and guests could be out enjoying the eclipse.  Everyone was given eclipse glasses to watch the show. 

     I sat near the wooden fence with a view of the lake and mountains to the west, and the sun to the east.  Slowly the moon nibbled away at the sun, hiding more and more of it.  Even as a tiny thin crescent the sun was brilliant without the eclipse glasses.  Suddenly the land went dark, the mountains went dark, and the temperature dropped significantly.  A different type of dark, quite unlike a sunset.  The corona shone brightly, it was almost a spiritual experience.  The guests stood up and cheered.
     It was over too quickly, the "diamond ring" effect moved from a small "diamond" to a tiny crescent.  The corona disappeared into the brilliance of the sun. My co-workers and I continued to monitor the sun's re-appearance after lunch.  We were blessed with beautiful weather. 
     Heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic was reported in Idaho on hwy 15 and on the highways leading to Teton Pass.  In Wyoming, Lander,  Riverton, and Casper had large crowds watching the eclipse, and many miles of  slow traffic on their highways.  I did not see any of the traffic problems, as the employees were cautioned to stay home and avoid the potential gridlock.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mid-summer photos

Wildflowers are blooming in so many colors and species.  All are simply beautiful.  This is a Columbine coming up thru a low-growing Fir branch.

 A hike on the west side of Jenny Lake became exciting when a Black Bear cub was found in a tree.  Mama Black Bear was not far away, so the Rangers closed the trail.

I was happy to see the Trumpeter Swan family with 5 little cygnets at the Elk Refuge (Flat Creek area).

I found this Wilson's Snipe in Idaho along a meandering creek.