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Saturday, July 24, 2010

On a mountaintop

Yesterday, we climbed to the top of a Rocky Mountain, enjoying the pure air, astounding flowers, loud marmots, and views of peaks a hundred miles away.

On the lower slopes of our climb, the columbines still sang their summer song, covering entire hillsides in their pale blue and white hue.
Next to the boulder-strewn trail that led to our peak, flowers somehow eked out an existence, painting the landscape green, yellow, and white. Our peak loomed high above us.
Alpine Avens dotted the ground next to the trail at this elevation.
After more hard climbing the pyramidal peak looked almost impossible to scale and the trail appeared to drop off the other side of the saddle that we approached.
Once we reached that saddle, a view of the largest Colorado glacier met us with its lakes like turquoise jewels in the talus.
K looked happy and care-free.
R enjoyed the view and sampled the wind with his tongue.
As we lingered in that last flat spot prior to starting the hard part of the climb, we noticed a marmot gazing at the same view.
The climb challenged me. The footing was precarious with huge boulders and small rocks plus a sheer drop-off toward the glacier and its lakes on one side.
At about the point when dropoff got too close and the upward view looked like this, I tremulously said that the climb was getting too precarious for me.
The eager looks on the pups' faces were my motivation - I would climb this mountain!
Of course, R reached the peak first and propped himself to tower over us, well over 13,000'! Notice the "Devil's Gargoyles" jutting up from the knife-like ridge behind him.
The peak was calm and warm - a rare ambiance for such a rugged point. K balanced atop the world.
And gazed into the distance.
She posed with the compass pointing to other peaks, nearby and faraway, in Colorado. This plate was placed atop the mountain in 1928!
Even in the fierce environment on top of a Rocky Mountain, Alpine Spring Beauties flowered in the crevices.
On our way down, the big yellow faces of Old Men of the Mountain turned to the east, away from the late afternoon sun.
Marmots, huge rodents that weigh up to about 10 lbs, seemed to pop up from every boulder, whistling warning calls to their colonies. One colony's lookout guard appears in the middle of the photo below.
Our best sighting was when we spotted two adult marmots with a quartet of pups. Two of the pups briefly played while their guardians watched. One guardian was probably their mother, and the other might have been their father or another adult from the colony. These pups probably emerged from the den very recently and will stay with their colony until they're about 2 years old. Then, some of them will disperse to other colonies to breed. A colony usually consists of a male, several breeding females, yearlings, and young.
As we descended, a shimmering vision of the lake that the Duo swam in on our last alpine hike appeared - a truly magical sight.

12 comments:

  1. Since it is currently a real feel of 100+ outside, thanks for sharing all those KHOOL pics!

    Simply awesome scenery!

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  2. Spectacular x 3+!!!! Wowzers - my fave thing to do - climb to mountain lakes - but nothing comes close to that - at least in the Tahoe area, which is closest. Oh the flowers and snowfields to glissade down! The huge spiky boulders and viewsviewsviews! Such maejesty - gorgeous photos of a place that seems devoid of others - except you three? I climbed one of CO's easiest 14ers a few years back - San Luis Peak - not even called a "Mt."!!! But the view from the top was beautiful. Your 13er is more spectacular! Thanks for sharing a day that makes my heart beat harder!
    Hugs xoxoxo
    Sammie and Momma

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  3. Dogs and glaciers. What a great combination.

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  4. Gorgeous pictures - and, of course, you had to make it to the top.

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  5. beautiful! love to see the snow! 1928...couldn't help but think Spike was 16....
    thanks for the wonderful tour atop the world!
    xoxo

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  6. Wow! The snow just amazes me!

    Sam

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  7. Somehow we just knew you would make it to the top:) Congrats!

    When we look at your photos, we never cease to be amazed at the totally different world you live in that is just on the other side of our state.

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  8. If I had a place like that to hike, I don't know how I'd manage to stay inside! Thank you for sharing all those pictures! K and R are two lucky dogs to live the life they do with you. I love both those shots of them!

    I thought that horse mint looked familiar! lol Thank you! I wish we could convince the old lady to sleep when it's dark, but she stubbornly refuses!

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  9. That jagged ridgeline made me nervous. What a climb! I especially like the pictures of K and R just hanging out and enjoying the air. I love how hikes can be both challenging and peaceful.

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  10. We had to spend a moment at each photo. Magnificient hike! You can smell that fresh air, see K & R smiles, and all the effort to the top! Spectacular!

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

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  11. Oh, is it ever going to be hard to sit at a desk today after cherishing these photos and your trip report!

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  12. Wonderful views and flowers, KB. You and pups were on top of the World!

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