We’ve had a very full day and managed to see a lot of wildlife for a change.
We started out with the sight of Mr and Mrs Duck crossing a main road together but unfortunately didn’t have the camera handy.
At Milner Pass we again crossed the Continental Divide!
We decided to go back to the Trail Ridge Road today, to the valley, to look at the Holzwarth Historic Site. As we passed over the summit It wasn’t quite so cold and it didn’t snow.
In 1917, John Holzwarth Sr. staked a homestead claim in the valley with the intent of building a cattle ranch. After the Fall River Road through the park opened in 1920, the ranch was re-developed into a popular resort known as the Holzwarth Trout Lodge. The Lodge is now part of the park and preserved as a historic site. The Holzwarth homestead depicts the rustic, unpretentious dude ranching of the 1920s.
Prior to the homestead another valley settler, a miner Joseph Fleshuts, homesteaded 160 acres with the intent to live on the land for at least five years. Life must have been hard because in 1911 he abruptly abandoned his cabin and was not heard of again.
Homesteaders, miners and trappers were not the first people to inhabit the valley. Ute Indians have hunted game and gathered plants there for more than 6000 years. The Arapaho came later in the 1800s. Members of both tribes still return to a place that was once their home.
On the way to the Homestead we passed over a raging river which we discovered was the Colorado River headwaters.
After that we visited Sprague Lake as the Ranger we met yesterday had told us that a moose and her calf had been seen there. The Lake stands at 8,710 feet and is just a 0.5 mile walk round the lake in very easy conditions and it was beautiful. The lake was built early in the early 20th century to provide trout fishing for guests at a resort owned by local pioneer Abner E. Sprague. The lakeside retreat is long gone but visitors still flock to this beautiful place. We saw a young girl of about seven having a fishing lesson from her father.
We were very lucky to see a moose but alas no calf. He didn’t seem bothered by the hordes of humans taking his photo as he enjoyed his lunch.
Our last port of call for the day was Bear Lake. The Bear Lake area stands at 9,475 feet and is only a 0.6 miles hike. It has jewel-like lakes with breathtaking back-drops, ice-cold crystal-clear streams that cascade down spectacular waterfalls, great forests of pine, spruce, fir and aspen, soaring mountains summits, amazing wildlife and colourful plant life.
As Sprague Lake had been an easy walk we thought Bear Lake would be the same but alas it wasn’t. Most of the trail was covered in very deep snow. Lucky for us we had taken our walking sticks with us.
We met some ladies on our walk and one of them was was telling us how her sons went to the college in the very town we live in! The world is very small indeed.
Here are some other photos we’ve taken today of the Park.
On the way back we rounded a corner and there in the middle of the road was a fawn, without its mother. It looked lost and wasn’t sure which way to go. We sat and waited for it to make up its mind. In the end it went back into the forest to find its mother. We also saw another Marmot clinging on to a rock at about 11,000 feet. He seemed very at home. We also saw mature elk.
We were very lucky to be able to visit the Estes Park and Rocky Mountain Park area because last September the whole area was devastated by historic floods. Homes and roads were just washed away and businesses devastated and although everything is more or less back to ‘business as normal’ there are still signs of the devastation to be seen.
Tomorrow we leave Estes Park and make for Colorado Springs. A fairly short drive for a change, just 2.5 hours. For those who may remember the television show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, it is our intention to climb Pikes Peak but luckily for us we won’t have to climb it as she did, by foot, we can either drive up or go on a cog railway. As our previous experience of a cog railway was not that pleasant, I think it’s safe to say we will be driving!