Friday, August 22, 2014


We are back at the New Jersey shore, and on the first cloudy day since our return I can't avoid remembering our last adventure in Colorado this summer.  Having heard my parents talk about their trip up Pikes Peak in 1923 in their model "T" Ford I have always wanted to go there (by railroad or car, not hike it as many of my younger friends have done).  Every time we have tried it has been closed due to high winds, but this time when a doctor's appointment took us back to Colorado Springs just before we left for NJ we tried again - successfully this time.

A bit of geology of Pikes Peak is, I think very interesting.  The pink granite rocks and stones on Pikes Peak may be well over 2.3 billion years old,  predating the 300 million year old Rocky Mountains.  About one billion years ago, an immense dome of hot molten rock, called magma pushed up from the earth’s core to form what geologists call a batholith. This formation never made it to the surface, but rather remained hidden in the earth’s crust for millions of years. The formation of the Rocky Mountains, and the subsequent appearance of Pikes Peak followed in three relatively recent stages.

The 1st stage was the creation of what geologists call the Ancestral Rockies. This is when the earth’s crust went through some rather intensive sea floor spreading at the mid-Atlantic Ridge. Unable to absorb the crust as fast as it was being created, the stresses on the North American plate were too high and the crust faulted along what is now the same area as the Rocky Mountains. It was at this time that the huge mass of Pikes Peak first surfaced. 

The 2nd stage - Ancestral Rockies and Pikes Peak experienced a period of great erosion which virtually leveled the mountains. The debris from this erosion survives in some of the red sedimentary rocks of the area.  After a period of time when the seawater and additional sedimentary rock covered the area, another up-thrust of the earth’s crust formed the present range of the Rocky Mountains and along with it, pushed up the sunken batholith of Pikes Peak, a massive mountain, made entirely of pink granite.

The 3rd Stage - In more modern days, only 3 million years ago, the erosion caused by glaciers and their runoff in the Pleistocene Ice age have carved many of the features of the mountain.  This erosion is greatly expedited by what many call “frost wedging.” The constant freezing, thawing and refreezing of the water is like driving little wedges into the rock and splitting them apart. At the lower elevations, the water seeps deeply into the microfine joints and cracks found in the pink granite. Then, as it freezes, the water expands and cracks the rock apart into large boulders. At the higher elevations, where the colder temperatures keep the water from seeping in as deeply as below, the rock is split into much smaller pieces.  This can be seen in some of my photos.

We  took the cog railroad to the top - a round trip of about 3 hours

Along the way I enjoyed the huge boulders among the Lodge-pole pines, and later as the altitude increased, silhouetted against the blue sky above the fine scree fields.

 At Windy Point, above 12,000 feet (about the same altitude as the top of Crested Butte) we stopped
temporarily at the stone structure that housed the railroad workers who laid the tracks that were completed in October of 1890.

At this point the conductor exited the train to reset the tracks for the train that was due to come down from the peak. 
The vegetation grew even at high
altitudes in the midst of some of
the scree fields. 
Above we could see the train
descending from the peak.             
Ay the summit I refrained from taking our photos in front of the tourist sign.

But thought Chuck looked better up in the clouds, and there were plenty of them!!               


Our time at the top was very limited and at first shrouded in clouds, but gradually they lifted and blue sky began to appear.

 Looking down you could see features and lakes far below.

In 1893, at the age of thirty-six, Katherine Lee Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College had taken a train trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to teach a short summer school session at Colorado College. Several of the sights on her trip inspired her, and they found their way into her poem, including the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the "White City" with its promise of the future contained within its alabaster buildings; the wheat fields of America's heartland Kansas, through which her train was riding on July 16; and the majestic view of the Great Plains from high atop Pikes Peak.  The words came to her at the top of the mountain and she quickly wrote them down. Later, American The Beautiful became our favorite patriotic song.


From high above, the Red Rock of the mountains of Garden Of the Gods become visible the the City of Colorado Springs in the background,

Sitting on the edge of the world, one can "see forever",

 But our train awaited to take us back down the mountain.

On the way down, lakes began to appear in the valleys.
The cog railway track circled the mountain as we descended,

We passed one group of Big Horn Sheep, one shaggy one still in the process of losing its winter coat.

 At the Sidling we pulled over to allow the last train of the day to pass.

 At times the angle of descent reached 25%.  We hoped that the cogs and brakes would hold.

And at one point we passed rocks that had to be part of the original Pikes Peak Batholith, still relatively undisturbed.

Small streams and waterfalls followed us down the mountain.

Finally the red rock debris and the city spread out in front of us.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Our trip to Vail was instigated by our late life passion for the game of Bridge. We attended a session of lessons with friends from Crested Butte, given by a marvelous teacher from Canada, 
Barbara Seagram.

         Turning at Glenwood Springs towards Vail along the Eagle River, there was a lot of raft and
                                                                    Kayak activity.

   The highway to Aspen is a pleasure to drive, nothing like the roads in our part of Colorado.
It is a two level freeway through the canyon, with the East bound lanes at river level and
 the West bound lanes high above.

Our condo in Vail was right by this charming creek which was rushing with water from all of the rain.

The Colorado Columbine grew there in profusion.

As did the Bladder Campion and the Fireweed.

Driving home at the end of the week, we encountered the damage done by a week of showers.
                Mudslides caused havoc with the roads and produced delays in traffic.

But after passing over the McClure Pass blue skies began to appear.

                   Back in Crested Butte, our mountain stood below some light high fog and blue sky.


In the summertime leaving Crested Butte for Vail or other destinations to the North, there is a new option because Kebler Pass is open.  In the winter it is covered with deep snow and inaccessible.

    Approaching the beginning of the Pass you pass this wonderful view of  green meadows and
                       "The Dykes" & Ruby Mountain - a popular hike in summer.

           Kebler Pass takes you through aspen forests, which by the way are golden in the fall,

By Wildlife, like this deer on the side of the road - the sometimes domestic animals, horses and cattle.

Lost like is a favorite camping, kayaking and hiking spot.  There are 2 smaller lakes a bit higher up,                                           and waterfalls, and always gorgeous wildflowers.

  Majestic Marcellina Mountain towers over the terrain reminding one that the Rockies  prevail

                                 And occasionally a Yellow Bellied Marmot will show itself.

Redstone is one of my favorite stops.  The old coke ovens by the roadside tell its history, and the hotel and town by the Crystal River are a turn of the century resort with many quaint shops to enjoy.
The Crystal River is crystal clear and is a favorite of Kayakers and rafters, and of course fishermen.

The scenery is spectacular and the red rock is prevalent, contrasting beautifully with the other colors
                                                           of  rock and the vegetation.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Living in Colorado where we do, horses and wildflowers are part pf the scenery in the summer.  The Lacy Ranch, on the road between Crested Butte and Gunnison, hosts a "Cutting Horse" competition each July, drawing contestants from all across the West & Mid-West.  The horses are beautiful, and superbly trained for their job - which is to cut one particular animal from a herd of cattle.  We have gone the past 3 years just to admire the skill of the animals and riders, who are not allowed to give any directions to their horse.  Our first year I went wild with my camera, photographing the horses in the practice and warm-up ring, getting a cooling showers, etc. but this year I confined myself to the  competition which takes place inside, in a huge barn.

This cowboy has cut out his 1st steer within the allotted time.

Later that week I decided to walk down the hill across from us, early in the morning, to grab some shots of the horses as they came in from their night of rest and freedom to enjoy their oats and start their day of taking riders up the trails.

 Some come in reluctantly, the long way around, with encouragement from the well trained dog.

 Some trot in eagerly, thinking mainly of the oats, I am sure.

Others  mosey in with their friends to begin another day of work

Walking back up the hill to our home I couldn't resist snapping pictures of a few of the wildflowers.
                                 The sun was just hitting these Mountain Gumweed

These Orange Sneezeweed were showing their color.
As were the Scarlet Gilia

Lupine and Fleabane

As I arrived at home this little friend welcomed me.