This hike is relatively easy, being only 4.8 miles roundtrip. However, it does involve almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain. The day that I chose for this hike was far from photogenic. The sky was drab and gray all day. But, fortunately, it was not a thunderstorm sky. It was obvious that if it rained at all it would be the long steady type of rain without lightning. Since the worst day hiking is better than the best day doing most anything else.....in my opinion.......I was going anyway. Plus, there was an added benefit on this particular day that would make the hike all worthwhile; regardless of the weather.
The trail quickly makes switchbacks up a fairly steep mountainside. The sun just peaked through at sunrise for a nice view of the Red Mountains.
The Red Mountains were stunning in the early morning light.
The views up ahead were not too shabby either! Note the elk grazing in the lower left.
Dew was clinging to the points of plant leaves - I couldn't resist a picture!
As I approached the pass, there was a greeting committee waiting for me. They were amazingly curious. But, as I got closer, they slowly moved into the large basin below. I don't know why elk like to hang out above timberline. I often see them at 12,000 - 13,000 feet. It must be the view!
Yours truly enjoying the views from the pass. THANK YOU LORD for this incredible beauty you've made....and for giving me the physical where-with-all to be able to hike to places like this!
After taking in the views for a bit, I then went higher up the mountain above the pass and sat down on a rock for a snack. The elk were now a thousand feet below in the grassy basin. I watched them for over and hour as they literally played non-stop. They bucked, and kicked, chased each other, stomped in the water and just plain had a good time. I saw little calves chasing bulls, with the bulls acting like a mountain lion was on their tail. It was the most unusual wildlife display I've ever seen. The shot below is after the playtime was over and they gradually moved out of the basin up the slopes to higher ground. This is only a portion of the the whole herd scattered out along the mountainside.
This is a view from the pass back to the west toward Yankee Boy Basin - Mt. Sneffels (a fourteener) is the high peak in the distance. You can see the Yankee Boy road in the valley below.
Well, it was getting to be mid-afternoon and the clouds were building. It was time to grab a shot of the wildflowers and head down the trail. Another great hike was in the books, and some memories that will last a lifetime.