And then some deer crossed the road as I made my way up toward Deer Mountain.
The sunflowers didn't impress them as they moved down into the meadows below, but I liked them.
But it was hard to drag my eyes away from the mountain vistas as I drove onward.
After turning at the intersection for Horseshoe Park I descended again and at the bottom found a meadow near Sheep Lake where some young deer were playing.
I parked at the Lawn Lake trailhead, right where it says "you are here". The question was where would my boots take me from there?
I decided to go left for no other reason than I didn't want to start with vertical hiking and wear myself out before all the morning light was gone.
The path crossed back over the road I drove in on, and cut across the side of the meadow by Sheep Lake. Far off in the distance some elk were moving down the mountain to enjoy the grassy area too. Today the 1,700 elk that inhabit the park grounds are decendents of the 49 that were brought back to the Rockies from Yellowstone National Park to repopulate the area in 1913.
A few wildflowers were growing, breaking up the monotony of the grass and cheering up the cloudy morning.
There is a gap large enough at the bottom of the fencing to let other animals in but keep the elk out. I used the gate on the way in, but slid under the fence on my way back out.
|birds plucking the thistle seeds|
When I was on the other side again I ran into the remnants of a predator's breakfast so made a wise decision to head back the way I had come on the edge of the open meadow.
|What animals are hiding in this thick growth inside and just outside of the fence?|
With my wandering in the meadow cut short I headed back to where I started and began heading up the mountain.
I climbed steadily for about a mile before I decided that I had enough exercise for one morning. On my way back down I ran into a Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.
They resemble chipmunks but are larger and have a lovely golden brown coloring around their neck and shoulder area. This one seemed to know how handsome it was and posed freely for me.
I mean, seriously! Who says rodents aren't adorable?
I'm glad I got my hiking in early, by the time I got back to the camper I had neck pain so bad that when we were driving down to Loveland I considered going to the emergency room because it was radiating up into my face and the top of my head. Ice and advil eventually reduced my suffering, but I am still babying it days later. A few cookies from Mary's Mountain Cookies in Loveland helped too.
And a sighting of Peter Toth's Whispering Giant named "Redman" as we sped along Highway 34 back to Estes Park lifted my spirits as well.
Here's a video of my morning hike before the agony set in, enjoy!
And happy birthday to my mother-in-law who celebrated her 95th today!!