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    White Pelicans, Canyon Wrens, & a Poorwill

    White pelicans rhythmically  lunged their bills down into the shallow water while   swimming  together yesterday morning at Walden Pond.   At 7pm I hiked up a foothill to watch the sunset.  Canyon wrens  sang their swinging,  descending  notes in the twilight.  One darted about on the cliff face.  Other birds flew out and back, like a flycatcher.  Later as it became dark, I heard a poorwill’s sweet call from the hillside.  There were gallardia, yellow cone and purple cone flowers, and bats.   In the dark, I sensed a large animal about 20 feet away, and I relaxed after I realized it was a deer.

    Posted on July 13, 2015

    Camping & Hiking up a Peak

    I went overnight camping away up a trail for the first time in several years.

    We climbed up a 12,432 foot peak. Most of the snow was gone, and the flowers were out. We camped in the bristlecone pine, limber pine  and spruce next to a huge willow swamp. Lots of mysterious granite pinnacles, towers, cliffs, and stacks of rocks. A friend called one a stack of pancakes and another a stack of poker chips. Some seemed precariously balanced. There were lots of the undulating, flutey, hermit thrush calls. I had a scary moment crossing a beaver pond. The water was up to my waist, and my flip flops were sticking in the mud. A friend led walking on the interwoven sticks of the dam itself. Luckily a friend led by example, getting a stick to lean on.  Another friend loaned me a second staff. Earlier we had crossed two creeks up higher where they were narrow and faster. Yellow umbel type anise flowers that taste like licorice, shooting stars, bistorts, avens, marsh marigolds, ravens, vultures, meadowlarks, and an elk. The Milky Way and the teapot constellation stood out. The crescent moon was next to Venus and Jupiter.

    When I slow down and am quiet, I notice spiderwebs,leaves, clouds, shadows, birds, dragonflies, ladybugs, froth recurving on the creeks, swaying treetops, and sounds of streams and birds.

    Here are safety considerations when stream crossing a fast or deep stream : undo your waist and chest straps, wear shoes to protect your feet (after taking off your socks to keep them dry), get a tall stick to lean on, face upstream and walk sideways, and put your gear in waterproof garbage bags. If there are two or more of you, make a line facing upstream where the front person leans on a staff, and the person behind put their hands on the waist of the person in front and pushes down on their hips, helping the person in front to keep their footing in a fast stream. The first person shields the behind person from the current. Snow- and glacier- fed streams may be higher in the afternoon after the snow melt.  Freedom of the Hills may have info on this.

    Posted on June 24, 2015

    Stop to Smell the Blue Irises & Hug a Tree

    I  put my nose up against some  blue irises to smell their grape scent.  Suddenly, yellow and gold lines were curving away from me.  A snake had been sunning on the rock by the irises, and I had startled it.   The irises around town are starting to fade in the heat.   A pair of hawks circled above further on along the bike path.  When I stop to hug a huge cottonwood, I notice the spiderwebs and insects in the deep furrows in the bark.  Also, I heard a flicker and noticed some birds chasing a perched hawk.  Whenever I stop for a minute in a quiet place, I notice lots  of of life.  A few weeks ago, inspired by others who started to climb, after the annual University of Colorado tree walk, I climbed an oak tree.   Viewed from  the treetop,   all the other trees stood out and seemed more alive in the  gentle drizzle.

    Posted on June 18, 2015