Day 8: June 16, 2011
Breaking Camp
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I'm breaking camp (That's what us outdoor types call it.) today so thought I'd post a few camp pictures. The first one was taken through the tent door about 3:30 AM. The second was taken from just outside the tent about 5:30 AM. In keeping with my sometimes posting of non-chain motel interior shots here are the accommodations at RMNP. I didn't see or hear of any but black bears are a real threat here. Reminders are posted liberally and bear proofing (food airtight and out of sight) is strictly enforced.

After I'd exited the campground proper but while I was still on the campground road, I noticed a couple of fellows who obviously take their nature photography much more seriously than I do.

I take the easy way and head up around the corner where a herd of elk is grazing next to the road. At 6:00 AM it seems that you can't swing a dead cat, as they say in Hannibal, without hitting an elk or two and, if you don't connect with an elk, you'll probably clobber a deer. I stopped by Sheep Lakes and grabbed a snapshot of the daily report showing that the streak had ended, purely by coincidence, on the only full day I was there. I again drove toward Old Fall River Road since there had been reports of a few sheep there yesterday. On the way, the roadside was teeming with elk and deer.

A pickup truck was in the road as I neared the closed portion. It pulled to the side after a few moments and I drove slowly past. I figured the driver was watching something up the hillside but as I passed I saw he had his binoculars pointed straight ahead. Then I saw them and pulled over to the side myself. Five rams were nibbling at the grass right next to the gate.

I got out of the car and the pickup soon pulled up beside me. As we talked and I snapped pictures, the rams would cavort -- the word was made for this -- a bit then go back to nibbling. After several minutes, the driver of the pickup said, "I'm going to try easing past them if it's OK with you." I assured him it was and he drove at a crawl past the sheep. Then it was my turn. I stopped directly beside them and grabbed a few close ups. There is a picnic loop to the left of the locked gate and I pulled in there to turn around. I passed the pickup as he headed out.

When I completed the loop, the rams seemed to be waiting for me. Then, as I again crept by, they nonchalantly turned and walked away. Silly humans.

There are several streams -- all filled to the brim -- in the park and I know I've been remiss in not photographing them. It's just that the mountains and the critters are so captivating. But it wasn't yet 7:00 when I left the big horns and, unlike the afternoons, there wasn't much traffic. I decided that I could get away with stopping on the "No Stopping" bridge for just one shot.

I headed back to Trail Ridge Road, a.k.a, US 34, and followed it over the mountain one more time. I then picked up US 40 near Granby where US 34 ends.

This is Byers Canyon near Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado. I wasn't expecting anything like this at all. That's US 40 to the left, the Colorado River in the middle, and (I believe) the Union Pacific Railroad to the right. I'm traveling downstream. The last picture is facing upstream.

I had already seen several F.M. Light & Sons signs before this one that is about thirty miles from Steamboat Springs. Other signs talked of Stetsons and boots and, although I have no need for either, I thought it was an interesting ad campaign and was considering stopping in the store. But I'd seen several cyclists before, too, and now I started seeing an almost constant string of them.

I'd already realized that this was a sizable organized outing when I can to this support station. I ran back over the riders I had seen and estimated that I had passed somewhere between two and three hundred people on bicycles. I started counting as best I could and had counted an additional 500 when I reached another support station. At that point I stopped counting but the bicycles did not stop coming. About a dozen miles from Steamboat Springs I came upon the biggest support station of all and there was space to pull over on the right hand side. I finally learned that this was the fifth day of a six day 412 mile event called Ride the Rockies and involving over 2000 riders. Today's ride had started at Steamboat Springs and would run about eighty miles total to Granby. The place I'd stopped was at the top of a seven percent grade and the pull off was actually a brake testing area for vehicles heading down the hill.

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