Saturday, June 21st, we just hung out so Sunday, 22nd, we were ready to go again.
As we were heading out to Bear Lake, we decided to do a quick stop at the Moraine Campground to check it out. While looking at one of the loops, we could see elk in the meadow so that was our next stop.
View from Moraine Park:
Look who is coming to greet us:
Notice the spots on the little one – OH MY! Here is short video of their crossing:
Then we saw and heard the herd – HOW EXCITING. We parked the car and went into the exclosure - both for our and the elk’s safety.
The herd – babies and more babies – moms and young ones – all playing. The sound was incredible!:
This guy was just running back and forth and playing:
We watched, took pictures, and watched even more. Babies following mom across the river:
We watched as two of the babies were having a problem crossing. It was so interesting to see other moms come back to help.
Here is a video – watch them playing and listen to their sound – WOW!
The herd continued on:
So we moved on. What a blessing to see the herd in the wild!
As we made our way to Bear Lake, there were signs that the parking lot was full and that there was a park and ride. We decided to drive to the end of the road anyway and….. we got a space as someone pulled out – WOW again!!!
We did the nature trail around the lake with stops along the way.
In 1900, this area had a fire that lasted for over two months. Some of the first trees to come back were the quaking aspen – which are favored by wildlife. Eventually spruce and fir will take root in the grove and shade out the aspen.
Here is another interesting tidbit we learned. Notice the green on the rocks below – that is lichens.
When the glaciers receded, they left behind a stark landscape of bare, grey rock. Lichens were the first to colonize these rock surfaces. When moistened, these tiny organisms created a weak acid that disintegrated the rock. As they lived and died, the lichens trapped small bits of dust and provided organic matter. All of these processes helped form soil. Eventually, plants such as grasses and herbs gained a foothold.
Lichens are among the hardiest living things on Earth, growing in the hottest deserts and coldest arctic regions. Lichens are actually two entities, an algae and a fungus, which live together in a mutually beneficial arrangement. The fungus provides the structure of the lichen while the smaller algae conducts photosynthesis to feed the entire organism. Neither could survive without the other.
Lichens can be very colorful and are extremely slow-growing. One lichen found in the park area grows about one millimeter every 100 years. Scientists are able to determine when the most recent glaciers advanced by measuring the size of lichens.
Notice the curve in the tree trunk in the middle of the picture – that is called a snow-knee. Each winter, snow slides off the cliff above to form deep drifts. When the trees were young, the weight and downhill creep of the snow year after year bent them, eventually distorting the trunks.
Check out the snow drift behind us:
This is the north facing slope where the snow piles deeper in the winter and melts away later in the spring:
We had noticed the clouds moving in as we went around the lake. About this time, we started to hear thunder so we moved pretty fast to the car.
Going back, we made a quick photo stop near the falls:
There were colorful wild flowers all over.
Continuing back, we saw these beautiful mule deer:
The storm came and then cleared up in the afternoon. We took a little ride to the top of the mountain near us – great views. This is Estes Lake:
More Estes Park:
We finished the evening around the campfire. WHAT A GREAT DAY!