Practically no sooner that we unpacked the moving trucks … well, at least the first photography out of area trip we made … was to go to Mt. Evans for my mountain goat encounter that I had been denied a few years before. See, the road to the top is only open a limited amount of time and the last time I tried to make the trip to the top, I could go no further than the Echo Lake Lodge, 15 miles from my desired destination.
So off we went from Fruita, CO at around 3:00 am … to the town of Idaho Springs. We were treated to a wonderful sunrise along the way. I considered it a taste of things to come.
Once arriving at Idaho Springs, we drove to Echo Lake Lodge, where we then drove the 15-mile Mt. Evans Scenic Byway. The sunrise began to reveal the beauty of the landscape along the way.Summit Lake is an amazing recreational location along the way and a place for many to hike the wilderness area and explore some of which it has to offer. For us, on this morning, I was on a mission … to the top!The roads are, as they say, “not for the faint of heart”. In some areas there are sheer cliff drop offs of unfathomable heights. Poor Tom was getting strict orders to keep his eyes on the road for those sections. LOL. Other areas were more gentle and could allow for a bit of sightseeing along the way.Finally, we reached the top and I held my breathe … will I find what I was looking for? Yes! There it was … my first sighting of a mountain goat at the summit of Mt. Evans … 14,264 feet high.When we got out we found some of the younger goats climbing around the structure, in and around the stairs. My heart went pitter-patter, then began to skip a beat. How incredibly adorable!Of course the adults were always around and watching the whereabouts of the young ones.But that sweet innocent looking face of the young kids were by far the sweetest I’ve seen. Just like other young, they possess such curiosity … as well as a playful nature.The mountain goats weren’t just frolicking around the structure shown above, but they were also out navigating the boulders of rocky terrain … being such excellent climbers.A few of the older ones were collared, which isn’t the best for photography, but monitoring of their behavior and whereabouts is sometimes a necessity.On the other side of the summit, they began to make their way into the grassy landscape for foraging of food.The family unit sticks closely together. Also of note in this image, is that the adult goat has all but lost its winter coat. Just a small patch remains in random places. After spending time with the mountain goats, we decided to head down … slowly … and enjoy some of the other sightings that the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area has to offer. Yes, the air was thin up there, quite crisp, and invigorating.
We soon found some pika up there as they were sunning a bit, but mainly foraging the vegetation. For them, it won’t be long before winter arrives, even when the calendar reads “summer”.
Yellow-bellied marmot also make their home up there and can often be seen sunning themselves as well.But the real stars of the adventure were the mountain goats.No sighting was more heart-warming than the kids with their moms. ❤A herd of elk was also spotted as they migrated. Bighorn sheep also call the area home, though on this day we didn’t see any.The beauty of the area is undeniable. I wish that we had more time to spend there and rest assured we will in future visits. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.Of course, we stopped at the Echo Lake Lodge for a quick break and to celebrate our day. We treated ourselves to lunch, including these amazing Macaroni & Cheese tots. Yum Yum! We did return to Mt. Evans one more time before the road closed for the rest of the year. More on that visit in a future post.
Next up: More sights and stories from closer to home
© 2018 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy