Friday, December 9, 2011

(4) Colorado: Sunset with friends

We stayed at the Mueller State Park the second night. What a breathtaking place! I love sunsets and we decided to hike one of the trails to see if we could find a good spot to photograph one. Gosh, there is a notable difference between fit from cycling and fit from walking. I was just about ready to accept defeat with my chin up when someone pointed out to me that it might very well have something to do with the altitude.

Bring on the next mountain! :D

As majestic as the mountains are, I also find myself very much drawn to seeking out the little things to photograph. I don't even have to think about it. 

A chipmunk - a real live one - and no, his name is not Alvin.
This little guy is fast as lightning! At first I didn't know what it was. I've never seen a real chipmunk. My best idea of it before now was from the movie Alvin and the chipmunks. Sounds silly, but it's the truth :) They're a lot smaller than I imagined. Probably part of my misleading Disney fantasy :) In reality - this one anyway - is only about 6 or 7cm high (about 3 inches). Did I mention he was fast as lightning?

I Googled 'chipmunk' and what do I get? Alvin and the chipmunks right at the top of more than 10 pages of Google results. You see? No wonder I'm so misguided ;) Anyway, chipmunks are part of the squirrel family - I love squirrels. Not only do they have the cheeky attitude of some humans I've met but they also have a omnivorous diet like us, although I might give the young mice bit a miss, as well as the insects... They live up to 3 years in the wild and can sleep up to 15 hours a day. For all of that sleep I would have imagined them living longer. After everything I've read about them though, it is their attitude I still love most of all! (I'd say that is the quality best captured in the movie.)  

I believe I can fly!
Sometimes things happen to you - good things - that you did not pursue, could never have guessed would happen, let alone thought of. It finds you when you weren't even looking to begin with. Then, afterwards, you can't stop thinking of just how wonderful it was and what it meant to you in a perfectly timed moment! This was one such experience for me.

This here (above) is Suzanne and her son Peter. At first they drew my attention for my interest in taking portrait photographs. I find it works best when people don't know that they are being photographed. Nothing spoils a good picture like someone who tries too hard to pose. It happens to me but I also know I'm not the only one. Peter was jumping over the rocks fearlessly like a mountain goat and I kept thinking what if he looses his footing? I've been on the edge to look for pictures and it is a long, rocky way down. You could get seriously hurt. Thankfully he didn't. I liked this picture because he looks like he's going to leap over the edge (without a parachute or a safety harness or something). I was rather nervous for his sake. On this day Suzanne and Peter spelt 'Godsend'. I am delighted that I got to meet them.   

Sunsets with clouds are my favorite! It was worth the hike.
Postcard picture perfect
I was very surprised at this picture. We were chatting and I was standing with my back to him. Suzanne interrupted me to point it out and it was one of those moments where you had only a few seconds to take the picture before he was gone. I'm so grateful that I was on a good setting with my camera. I just flicked the power button, aimed and clicked. 

This picture made me think of a moment in a movie like Lassie.
Sitting by the campfire
In all honesty I did not consider the hike back downhill after sunset so much and even though we did walk briskly it was still just about dark by the time we got to the campsite. It was the first time I'd ever camped on a walk-in site. This basically means that no vehicles are allowed at the campsite. You need to carry whatever you're going to use there - in daylight! preferably, especially since there have been a few bear sightings recently. But let me tell you, in the woods, in the dark and with an overactive imagination just about anything that moves might as well be a bear. 

OK, so I've tried it and this is my conclusion: I am a spoiled brat! I like my blow up mattress, bacon and eggs for breakfast on the Cadac dish, the metal kettle in the fire and coffee in a tin cup, my fold up chair, a warm shower - an ablution block (with slops) is just fine - and I find that an old fashioned flashlight comes in very handy! I'll walk up and down a few times more for this. I don't mind :) 

'Dining room' and bear box
Even if I've ever heard of a bear box I don't remember it. For me - till now - bears have been associated with a zoo and not a roaring life threat on the other side of a paper thin nylon or polyester tent. In the wild, however, it is a very different story. The bears around these parks are drawn to the campsites because of food. For this reason you are clearly warned to lock anything food or cooking related in the bear box - a metal cabinet of sorts with a locking device that prevent any wild animal from getting to it. They also strongly advise you to not sleep in the clothing in which you prepared meals. You might just smell too appetizing for their furry friends. Thankfully we had a very uneventful night (as far as I know) ;)

I have to say that I was particularly impressed with the camping facilities at this State Park. I imagine that it is a wonderful place to visit in summer but if I do go back I would like to add a few of the luxury items mentioned above that I consider to make for a great camping experience. After all, success is 90 % preparation, right?

This was going to be interesting. They've predicted a low of 30*F (-1*C) during the night but I came prepared! We brought every blanket in the house (with exception of one) and I packed clothing for a week on a two day trip. The cold didn't stand a chance against my two pairs of socks, two tracksuit pants, two long sleeve vests, thermal tracksuit top, normal tracksuit top, beanie and gloves - and lying under all but one of the blankets in our house. Warm was the one thing I nailed on this trip!

The next morning breakfast wasn't exactly bacon and eggs but we had someone eating right out of G's hand - literally! In the next post I'm sharing the breakfast bunch with you. There's something to be said for waking up in the woods.

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