Indian Peaks Wilderness

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Peg and Dave were out for a walk before breakfast again. I was awake in time but missed my cue. Instead I chased email, Facebook, and photos until they returned for breakfast.

Today’s outing was a special treat for Majella as she had expressed a desire to see a male moose. Dave suggested a drive to an area where moose are usually easy to see. We were also assured that we would see some fall colours. As soon as possible after breakfast Peg packed up for a picnic lunch. Dave drove us west and north through Golden and Boulder and then into the mountains toward the Indian Peaks Wilderness area. Once we had gained some altitude we began to see foliage that had taken on fall colours. Yellow gold aspens predominated but there were occasional splashes of red and some other species.

Dave found a parking space at the Brainard Lake area. That was not first preference for the walk Peg and Dave had planned so we walked around the lake, found the start of the Long Lake trail, and set off. We had barely started when we spotted what we thought was a Blue Jay but later decided, based on our photos and a book, that it was a Stellar Jay.

Our walk around the lake took a couple of hours with stops to catch our breath and a snack. The altitude was a bit more than 10000 feet (3000 m) so we took it easy in the thinner atmosphere. Most of our walking was in the forest above the lake where we had shade and occasional patches of warm sun. 

We were passed by other groups of walkers going in both directions. They ranged in age from babes in arms to noticeably older than us. Several walkers had dogs, a couple carrying packs on their backs.

Despite much searching and hoping, no moose were seen. The ranger at the park entrance had indicated that we were unlikely to see any at this time of year as the moose were on the move away from the park. As we approached the end of the trail we spotted more birds, a Gray Jay and some ducks. We accidentally took a longer route than necessary back to the car. That put us in the right place at the right time to see 3 female deer and a young male cross the path.

We enjoyed our picnic lunch at a table among some trees before starting our drive back. On our way down the mountain we stopped to look out over a valley that seemed filled with yellow aspens. Dave informed us that they are known as quakie trees because of the way their leaves tremble in a breeze.

After a short pause at Nederland for refreshments, coke for Dave and coffee for Majella and me, Dave took the alternative route home. That took us through Black Hawk, a town that seemed full of nothing but casinos, and down a narrow winding valley to Golden. It was a great drive for sightseeing passengers who could enjoy the steep rocky hillsides and fall colours but must have been wearing for Dave driving.

We enjoyed dinner of grilled chicken with rice and corn on the cob followed by strawberries and mango as we watched the Emmy presentations.