Last weekend, Don and I went up into the mountains to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. I had two wishes as we planned the trip. Those two wishes were to enjoy viewing the colors that were changing from the greens of Summer to the golds of Fall, and to hang out at dusk so we could watch the mating rituals of the elk and hear the bull elk bugle. I added one more wish to my wish list on our way up and that was to see a moose, which I have never done here in Colorado (only in Alaska).
We spent most of our time in Rocky Mountain National Park and here's how I did on those wishes...
The change in colors hadn't hit their peak yet so there weren't the vibrant colors I had hoped for, but there were still obvious color change. I realized that my amber sunglasses made the colors even better.
I did see a moose. In fact, I saw four moose. This cow, in the above picture, was spotted late afternoon and then a young bull was spotted about an hour later. We got ourselves out the door the next morning very early and went back to where we saw the first moose. We weren't disappointed. There was a fairly big bull there in the field. While I was elsewhere, photographing some elk eating grass on the side of the road, Don saw a baby moose. Later, when he was in the car, I saw an even larger bull. So we each saw four, but not the same five between the two of us. I never expected to see even one so it was a real treat for us.
But the real treat was watching the elk herds during their mating period. It's quite an interesting show. The bull elks are on a quest to collect cows for their harem (yes, that's what it's called). Of course, there's competition between the males and clashing of antlers ensue. But most of the time it's a spectacle of watching the bulls trying to keep their gals in a tight circle and from running off.
And then there's the bugling. If you've never heard an elk bugle, you're missing quite the treat. Bugling is an almost indescribable sound that communicates strength, size and vigor. They use their remarkable vocal skills to attract cows and intimidate rivals.
The show starts at dusk and goes until you can barely see them any more due to the darkness. The second evening, we were entertained by this ritual at a VERY close range. So close, that the ranger had to continually make all the spectators move back, for our own safety. It was a thrilling show!
We also took a short hike to a waterfall, walked through the town of Grand Lake, threw a stick out into the lake over and over again for our dog, found comfy places to sit and read, and drove around in areas we hadn't visited before. It was a great weekend.