Friday, September 9, 2016

Montrose, CO (9/4 & 9/7//2016)

A beautiful Labor Day Week-end begged for me to get outdoors, but the start of the college football season kept me on the couch most of the week-end.  The lone exception was Sunday afternoon, when there were no games scheduled.  I took the opportunity to visit a place I had not been for five or six years, Buckhorn Lakes.

Owned by the city of Montrose although a few miles south of town, Buckhorn Lakes is situated just below the 10,000 foot level on Storm King Mountain.  This mountain is known locally as Buckhorn Mountain because of all the elk and mule deer who leave discarded antlers all over the place.  The spot is popular among the area's fishermen who drag travel trailers up the rough road and camp near their favorite fishing spot.  Buckhorn Lakes is also the starting point for rock climbers who want to ascend Castle Rock, a part of Storm King Mountain.  ATV drivers also frequent the area, perhaps explaining the poor condition of the roads around the lakes.  While Montrose did some grading and gravel fills on part of the road this summer, the last five miles are still very rough, and those near the lakes collect and hold any water that lands on the mountain.  The result is a series of mudholes that make for a nasty trip.  Figuring the LRJ was muddy enough before this trip, I quit after going through one smaller mudhole and seeing much worse conditions ahead.  While I didn't see any elk on this ride, I did encounter seven mule deer, including two bucks with impressive racks.

Starting up the mountain, I passed Buckhorn Mountain Ranch with its 13,000 acres of pasture and hay fields.

Half way up the mountain, there are good views of the nearby hills, as well as the entire valley below.  Notice how the service berry bushes have already changed into their fall color.

The first lake was where I turned around to avoid further nastiness in the road ahead.
There were many mountain blue birds along the way, but they were shy as usual.  One female seemed willing to pose for me.
At the bottom once again, I took a road through some of the farms and other residences.  I saw several birds in flight that were larger than songbirds, but not as large as crows.  I thought they may be American kestrels, and this was eventually confirmed when I came across one perched on a power line.
In my experience, kestrels tend to congregate in a given area.  Sure enough, I spotted others just down the road.

On Wednesday, we had very dramatic high clouds all day.  Expecting a good sunset, I drove to the top of Flat Top Mesa to see if it developed as promised.  Late light on the adobe badlands created the color and shadows I love to see.
The sunset did not disappoint, creating wonderful color for a full 360 degrees.  I had to move several times to get clear views in all directions, but it was worth it.

1 comment:

  1. OMG . . . fabulous . . . I don't know where the best sunsets are . . . Wash/Ore coast or the Co mtns