colorado trip part 5
as we drove through the park we stopped at all my favorite pull offs for photos. i think i have these same photos over and over. the trees grow. the seasons change but they are about the same every time!
there are a few pines in the foreground that look pretty bad. they are just a few of the trees in the park that are affected by the mountain pine beetle infestation that is terrorizing the rocky mountains. as we traversed the park it jut got worse and worse. there are thousands of acres of dead trees. the beetle is a native species. it would be hard on the environment, really expensive, and almost impossible to do any kind of widespread spraying to counteract the pests. so they are just trying to save trees in certain areas. in some places they had already begun to cut down the dead trees for fire safety. i don' t know how they could ever cut them all down though. the range of the affected area is just incredible. i couldn't even begin to photograph it. it was sickening to even see.
just to give you an idea. several years ago mom and i took a long weekend to grand lake remember? well i took this photo back then.
i drove down this same road just two weeks ago and i don't think a single one of the above pine trees is still alive. if it is. it doesn't have long...
ok. that is enough of the depressing news.
near the top of the pass, well above treeline, there is a stopping point where you can see the alpine tundra ecosystem. it is incedible that these plants can even grow. miniaturized versions of plants you may know struggle to keep hold in high windsand freezing temperatures.
i wanted to yell at those idiots for walking on the tundra. it can take years for the plants to recover from a single footprint.
anyhoo. the soapbox is officially put away. i promise.
as you drive along trail ridge road you see these poles standing up beside the road...
well they mark the edge of the road so the snowplows don't fall off the side of the mountain. aren't they exciting!
we continued our drive up to the alpine visitor center. it is high. i mean really high there. i've been living at sea level or just about for a little over 2 years. i was huffing and puffing just to get air! forget climbing up to the top. i was happy to just look out the windows at the view! makes you cold just to see it doesn't it? can you believe that was taken in june?
afterleaving the visitor center we were headed out of the park. after a final stop at the grand lake visitor center that is. mom has to stamp her national park passport you know! can't miss out on that!
we did have to stop along the side of the road a couple of times though. whenever there is a creature out and about everyone stops to get a good look...
this time we were suprised with a special treat. we saw 6 moose that day! i have never seen a moose in r.m.n.p. the last time i saw one at all was about 8 years ago in yellowstone. of course then we didn't take a picture because we expected to see so many. this time. we took pictures!
this guy was grazing on the willows near the far edge of a meadow on the west side of the park.
and this little guy was wading through the stream with his momma. while we were watching the moose my mom overheard a little boy telling his mother that this was a special day. yes it was little guy.