Friday, September 25, 2009

Tyndall Gorge Walk, Rocky Mountain National Park

One thing I love about national parks are the park rangers. At most parks, there are free ranger programs throughout the day. Rangers have taught me many things about nature over the years. I always appreciate a park even more if I understand it better.

I chose a ranger-guided walk for Friday morning, while Jim was at his photography class. I felt very comfortable in the group even though I was basically traveling alone today.

The bend in that tree is called a "snow knee". When the tree was young, deep snow pushed against it and curved the trunk.

There are three types of pines in Rocky Mountain National Park: lodgepole, Ponderosa and limber pines. These are lodgepole pines.

The brown, dying pines are infested with pine bark beetles which have periodically infested the pines of the Rockies for at least 300 years. Cold winters with long periods below 0F (-18 C) tend to kill off these infestations, but the Rockies have not had a cold winter in about 20 years.

The trail we hiked this morning covers beautiful ground, and continues to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake.

The ranger stopped just short of Dream Lake. He turned back, but told us that we could continue to lakes further up, or walk back with him.

Since I could see the lake, I had to continue!!

Jim had our good camera, so my landscape pictures with my pocket camera aren't really bloggable.

I did get this picture of a Greenback Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus Clarkii Stomias) hanging out in Dream Lake. It's all catch and release fishing here, so the trout are happy and bold.

Isn't Dream Lake beautiful??

This walk was pretty tiring for me. I covered 3 or 4 miles, but we were at 9400 - 10,000 feet (2865 - 3048 meters) above sea level, and I'd only been in Colorado for a couple of days. I definitely got winded really easily on the ascent because of the high altitude. Plus, because I thought it was just a ranger walk,I didn't have any food and I was hiking long past lunch time. Poor tired, hungry Sue!

The trail was very well-traveled. Otherwise I wouldn't have hiked alone with so little in the way of food or emergency gear.

Luckily, Jim and I returned to this spot to hike it together on Sunday - with both cameras. I'm glad I got to do it twice! (You'll be glad too when you see those pictures!)

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