Sunday, April 11, 2010

Crosier Mountain Hike

Yesterday we decided to hike Crosier Mountain, a hike we did in June 2008. We loved Piper Meadows, the beautiful green meadow about halfway up which provided a lovely foreground for views of the Continental Divide. Our enthusiasm for Spring preceded the season, because it turns out in April any part of the meadow that is not white with snow is still quite brown. The trail was a little muddy and slushy in a few spots until past the meadow when we encountered mostly all snow, which made for a much tougher climb to the top. I sure wished I'd packed those micro spikes! We did finally make it to the summit, which was surprisingly calm considering the weather. There was a summit register in a PVC pipe, but one of the endcaps was missing, and the spiral notebook inside was completely soaked.

Various songbirds chirped and tweeted all along the trail, but Dark-eyed Juncos were the bird of the day. We saw tons of them flashing their white tail feathers as they flew around nearly every low lying shrub-filled area. On the way out, near dusk, Mike also spotted a red-tailed hawk landing high in the pines overlooking the meadow.

This trail is horse, dog and mountain bike friendly, but we met only one other hiker all day. His dog had found a large section of deer vertebrae and ribs, which she proudly carried in her mouth. I believe we may have seen some bear and cat tracks in the snow. Any ideas of who made the tracks pictured?

On this hike we were trying out some relatively new photo gear. The summit photo was taken with a new Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 ultrawide angle lens. The bird pictures were taken with a Canon 100-400mm lens we got last month. Mike was also testing a new chest pack to carry the DSLR with zoom lens attached.

This hike was fairly strenuous -- over 8 miles round trip, and almost 2000 feet of overall gain, with a lot of up and down. Here's a map of the area.

P.S. If you like Turkey Vultures, and who doesn't, you might enjoy our photos of the one Mike spotted on the way to Glen Haven, just above the little pond on the east side of the road after you turn onto Steamer Drive.

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