Cloud Nine

I have definitely been on Cloud Nine since yesterday’s road trip to Jefferson Lake. I just recently learned of the place when I got a hot tip from one of the rangers that there were often moose feeding around this lake. On our way back from Mount Evans last week Kevin and I decided to swing by there and check it out. We didn’t see any moose that day but a return trip was assured when we saw all the awesome moose habitat!

Storm on Lost Creek Wilderness

So plans were made and by sunrise we were off on a road trip to see moose. We’ve been hoping for a few years now to finally get some pictures of moose, all the while hearing stories and seeing the pictures from everyone else who seemed to be having much better luck 🙁

As the sun rose over the mountains of the Lost Creek Wilderness to the east it was obvious that it was going to be an amazing day! Temperatures were nice and cool, a bit of fog lingered in the valley… and a lot of red-tailed hawks were watching down upon us from above. We finally arrived at our destination not too long after sunrise. A few trips through the park and a bit of hiking on the Colorado Trail yielded nothing in the way of large mammal photography. I must admit, by this time I was a bit discouraged.

Moose at Jefferson Lake Colorado

We decided at this time to take a break and head down to Como where we also heard there was moose habitat, again… to no avail. By this time it seemed lunch was the best idea so we went on in to Fairplay where we found a place that was serving pizza by the slice.

As ominous rain clouds began to build towards the north we decided upon at least one more pass through the park, even if it was raining. As we neared the first pull out we spotted a huge black animal shaking the aspen trees. Finally, a moose to photograph!

We pulled in close and quietly exited the car in hopes of a clear capture through the heavy vegetation. I carefully moved around to the side while trying not to disturb the huge moose cow from her meal of aspen leaves. She glanced at me a couple of times but didn’t appear to be very worried about our presence. She was going to allow us to snap a few photographs!

Soon I noticed another animal off to the side, and then another. Two moose calves were resting on the ground not too far from their mother. As we snapped a few images of the calves they slowly began to stir, finally getting up to join their mother in the feeding.

Every once in a while the mother would let out a great huff and the younger ones would occasionally make a  grunting sound so I shot a few seconds of video so you all could share in the experience! It’s not much… but it’s something. Hopefully I’ll be seeing more of these magnificent creatures soon and I’ll capture some more video footage for you to see. By this time the little family was very close to our vehicle so we decided to give them some time and space and moved on to look for a bull moose in the beautiful pond area ahead.

We made a couple of passes by the beaver ponds without seeing any more of the giant mammals, so we decided to return and check on the trio. We found them right where we left them… feeding on the aspen leaves beside the road. Only this time they were moving a bit and came out of the dense forest to pose for a few unobstructed photographs. Mother moose turned to look at us a couple of times, seeming to warn us that she was watching and would not tolerate any kind of threat to her little ones… Not that they are that little anymore, baby moose appear to be about the size of some full grown farm livestock!

I have to say though, I am still on Cloud Nine from the experience. I can  barely put into words what it is like to lock eyes with such an amazing creature. It is an amazing experience to stare into those huge soulful brown eyes and for just a few short seconds feel the bond between animal and man. Every time I experience such a thing I come away incredulous that someone could pull the trigger and kill one of these great beasts. The need to kill these animals is beyond my comprehension, perhaps if hunters could see into their eyes the way I do, the killing would stop.

Finally the trio ambled off into the dense forest to the north and we lost sight of them. The day was not over yet though, there were still the red-tail hawks to photograph along Tarryall Road, a waterfall to capture with the motion blur effect, and as it turned out a herd of pronghorn antelope too! The day ended at the waterfall as the storm finally caught up to us with a deluge of water and hail that drove us back to the car and on our way home.

Well anyway, what a fantastic day of photography it was! Once again I hope you enjoy the little video I made to document the sighting, along with a few photographs that I was able to capture!



Pronghorn Antelope

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Waterfall at Tarryall

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