Two Winter Days
I don't know what you did Christmas day - besides perhaps eating too much and opening too many gifts - but here at Elk Lake, a few of us trekked a couple miles out into the valley to look for wildlife and enjoy a spectacular sunset. Our cold fingers and noses were rewarded with spectacular views of both.
We went in search of the 'Big Bull' who has been hanging around the last few weeks. Moose are valley residents, commonly seen in the winter. However, this guy had grown an impressive rack this year - and like most 'unique' features, it garnered our attention.
However, he wasn't the only wildlife we enjoyed on this Christmas evening. While we snapped photos of the bull, other wildlife were going about their 'normal' routine - a few in quite an obvious manner.
We could easily have missed this coyote as you strolled by a hundred yards behind us. However, not everyone had their eyes glued to the moose (fortunately).
Overhead graceful swans passed back and forth several times. While our vantage point was not very close to where they had been hanging out, our presence was still enough to rustle them out and up. Thus we were able to enjoy their presence as well.
Of course the moose were our primary object. Unfortunately this bull and cow seemed to be connected at the hip. Thus my photos really do not do him justice. That didn't stop me from snapping away, however!
As we lingered, the sun sank lower, the colors intensified, and the wildlife continued to move across nature's palate. Who could expect me to refrain from trying to capture such magical moments?
Of course getting to these special spots in time to enjoy them - especially after eating too much and knowing we would be heading back in the growing dusk - required speedy and comfortable steeds. Ours did not let us down.
The Centennial Valley is known for spectacular sunsets. While other places boast of sunsets as grand, I know of no other spot (outside of the seashore) where one can enjoy a sunset so unmarred - a spot so untouched by time and development where nothing but the majesty of God's creation stands between the sun's glorious departure and the hallowed spot where I stand. So we considered it an extra special treat to watch a majestic sun sink behind so grand a curtain! What a way to close our day.
Of course evening is not the only good time in the Centennial. It is one of the better times to catch such wildlife activity, but winter's drama is just as easy to see almost any time of day - especially if the day has an unusual element.
Thus when we were given a rare foggy day, instead of sticking to the house with a good book and a warm beverage, we mounted our trusty steeds and headed for higher ground seeking to capture the fog-shroded images. Our search was not in vain.
I am not a fan of fog. However, on the rare ocassion it visits Elk Lake, it can turn our winter landscape into something surreal. At least that is how it looks to my camera's eye.
As we expected, however, the skies were clear and bright just up the hill. Our friends seemed to enjoy the sun's warmth and the beautiful mountain views as much as we did.
This winter has already proven to be of blue-ribbon quality. The snow is piling up, quiet and deep - and as of right now virtually undisturbed - on the hills above Elk Lake. Thus Horn Mountain looks to be surrounded by blankets of white, shaped only by the finger of the wind. The frosty trees, showed the fog had visited the higher country at least briefly that day.
On this particular day it was all about the clouds. Where they sat. The shapes they took. The way sun interacted with them. These elements created the mystery and magic which take the ordinary and make it look extra-ordinary.
Whether it was the fog boiling up from behind a snow-coverd hill
Or the unique fan array seen over the crest of the hill - the clouds definitely made the day.
However, nothing could top the combination of sun and cloud. The glory of the sun's rays piercing through the misty fog, especially with the trees to add drama, well, its hard to top a vision so grand or imagine a stage which sets it in a more awesome light!
Lady of the Lake