A Rocky Mountain Interlude

We were gone this weekend for our 39th anniversary, so I didn’t get a chance to write a new post about birds and birding, my normal Monday topic. Instead, I want to share some photos from our trip.

We stayed in Kremmling, a very small town nestled between Steamboat Springs to the west and the continental divide to the east. After packing up on Sunday morning, we decided to head home to Colorado Springs via one of our favorite national parks, Rocky Mountain.


Precious Pikas

pika_mt-quandry-co_lah_6325-001Living at 7,100 feet at the base of the Rocky Mountains, I sometimes complain about our cold winters, especially as they stretch into March and April. But imagine spending the winter on top of the Rockies, at 11,000 feet or higher. At these elevations, winter lasts from October to May. The wind howls, blizzards come without warning, and the snow that doesn’t blow away piles deeply over the tundra.

Many species that summer on top of the mountains migrate vertically to lower, more sheltered wintering grounds. Of the few that remain all year, most hibernate.  But amazingly, there’s one small mammal—six inches long, weighing a mere six inches—that chooses mountaintop scree slopes as its home: the pika.