Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Road to the Stars

At 14,130 feet, Mount Evans, the end of the road where we hiked from the parking lot to the summit and saw most of the Continental Divide in Colorado.  Our adventure to the top of the highest paved road in North America, turned out to be a wonderful experience even though a little scary at times as the last 14 miles on this paved road becomes very narrow in places and lumpy (frost heave) with parts of the asphalt giving way...with many hairpin turns while you share the road with bicyclists!!!  All drivers are very patient and yield to vehicles on those hairpin turns, thank God.

The alpine tundra, the land above the trees, is a harsh environment where this little plant, Bigroot Spring Beauty, sends its root down about 6 feet (looks like a parsnip).

Pikas do not hibernate but stay active all year.

We did not see any Bighorn Sheep, but we did see this Mountain Goat by the side of the road.

Summit Lake, at 12,830 feet, is the highest park in the mountain system with the environment mirroring the arctic.  "Permafrost, unique to the dry alpine tundra is present, along with rare plants usually found above the Arctic Circle."

This area is where Ice Age glaciers were thousands of years ago.  As the ice receded, it left this U shaped valley and Summit Lake.

Mount Goliath Research Natural Area, elevation 11,540 feet, was an interesting place to visit where we saw Bristlecone Pines that were over 1,000 years old...the oldest single living organisms on earth...where they must grow twisted for a stronger foundation against extreme winds.

Krummholz is a German word meaning "crooked wood."  Behind the center there are trails to take with little garden plots and a stone indicating which garden you are in.

The drive was like a journey to distant lands.  "Every 1,000 feet gained is equivalent to traveling 600 miles north in latitude.  In only 45 minutes, you will drive through a landscape that reflects the upper regions of North America."  

I will back up to the start of this post, at the end of the road is Crest House...what is left of it after a propane tank explosion in 1979.

This is the end of the road at the parking lot.  On the lower left side is Crest House with a clean restroom to the right where the people are lined up.  The building with the blue on top is the highest observatory in North America which was closed for repairs as a big wind storm blew the top of it off.  Bummer!!!

American Pipits were everywhere as they nest in the rockies.

We had a late lunch at Echo Lake Lodge, established in 1926.  A great place to stop after Mount Evans.  Good food, great prices and souvenirs to take home.

It was a glorious wind, not too cold and clear.  We did not experience any problems with elevation sickness.  What a wonderful time we had.  BUT, this trip is not for the faint of heart!!!

Here we are, on top of the world looking down on creation, hum, sounds like a song.  Aren't the clouds pretty?

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Yours is the third blog post about Mt. Evans I have read in the past 2 weeks. We are from Colorado and I haven't been there for over 50 years, John has never been there. We have to go.