Pop goes the weasel

I took a hike to one of my favorite alpine tundra areas.  The area doesn’t have an official name, but it is within the boundaries of the Indian Peaks Wilderness area.  Looking east from this unnamed 12,000 foot mountain top, the smoke from the wildfires in western Nebraska helps to differentiate the different layers of the mountain view.  Normally it’s just a mass of forest and one ridge is difficult to discern from another.

(Click for larger on all photos)

In the mountains, the season is transitioning from summer to fall.  The aspen leaves in some areas are already in full autumn colors. It seems a week or two early. Many of the small plants in the tundra are turning rust color as well.

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Niwot Mountain & Niwot Ridge

I like getting up on the tundra this time of year. Normally there would be more snow and wildflowers.  Niwot mountain is a relatively quick (less than 1 hour) hike up from near Lefthand Reservoir.  Niwot is named after a native Indian chief of the Arapaho. His nickname was Left Hand, probably for obvious reasons.

Lefthand Reservoir and Mount Audubon from Niwot Mountain (11,400 elevation)

Mount Audubon, in the photo above, is a thirteener, meaning it’s summit is over 13,000 feet in elevation.  I know I’ve attempted the summit a couple of times, decades ago.  I don’t remember ever making all of the way up.  It’s a long hike with a 3,000 foot elevation gain.  I’d like to attempt it again this year and cement a yay or nay into my memory.  I think if I could stop injuring myself, I’d be in good enough shape to accomplish it.

Some type of shrine/memorial at the top of Niwot

I have mixed feelings when I discover shrines or memorials in conspicuous places along trails or on top of mountains.  They’re interesting to look at, but they are selfish when placed at such a public point.  There are so many corners of the forests or on the sides of mountains that would be more appropriate.  But claiming a major mountain top as your own is simply self-centered.


Reach Out and Touch a Cloud

I climbed a mountain today.

It wasn’t the first time I climbed a mountain, but it was the most euphoric.

It started off as a gorgeous day in paradise.  I was on the trail by 7:30 am.  Two hours later it was sprinkling.  I had studied the weather.  It wasn’t supposed to do that.  I looked at the clouds; looked at the sky.  I decided that there was no chance of lightning.  The clouds weren’t tall enough.  I wasn’t stopping.  By the time I reached the top of the mountain, it was sunny again with white fluffy clouds. Perfect.

It was on the way down the euphoria set in.  I wished I could have shared it, but finally decided that this was a personal euphoria that couldn’t be shared.  If someone else had been with me, I probably wouldn’t have experienced it.

Here are the photos from the hike.  Click for the larger versions.