We hiked to Cub Lake today and decided to go beyond to Fern Falls – an 8 mile round trip in all. The foliage is a more fiery orange/red here, although it is a late fall this year. 

Our hike was accompanied by the loud bugling of elk all along the trail. This is rut season and you can hear it going on all around you. I thought it would be confined to sunrise/sunset – but the cries rang out around the tranquil vallies all day. During the fall, bull elk become aggressive as this is the breeding rut. They gather harems of up to 60 females around them and fiercely defend them using their antlers as weapons as they lock in combat with other bulls for breeding rights to the cow elk. I failed miserably to capture the sound of a bugling elk all day.  

The best I could capture was a still shot of an elk in full voice – but I couldn’t put my finger on the shutter release and the video button at the same time! The elk and the foliage around here truly are “all fired up”. 
 

Shame we weren’t here on 4th/5th October – they hold an elk fest then with a bugling competition as part of it, to see who can sound most like a bugling elk ?! On second thoughts, maybe It is a good job we are going home!

As we continued our hike, we were surprised by a hailstorm on the way. It was actually warm hail, bizarrely – the sun was still shining, albeit weakly. They do say, if you don’t like the weather in the Rockies, wait 5 minutes, and it will change.

 We were conscious of the risk of elevation sickness here – although I can’t say it was much of a problem at all. You do feel a bit light headed at times, although I can’t say we found this much of a problem. As long as you drink copious amounts of water, it seems to be OK. there are a lot of leaflets around warning of the symptoms of moderate and sever elevation sickness – it can kill you apparently, which I didn’t know. The mild version is difficult to distinguish from drunk – so they advise you not to drink during your stay. ??!!

 We discovered Cliff bars on this trip. They are so fab?! One kept us going all day long – 260 calories – and such lovely flavours – coconut and choc chip, oat and blueberry etc. These would sell so well back home?!

 I was pleased to be able to achieve a “freeze the water shot” at Fern Falls, using a fast shutter speed. 

I’m learning …! I was even more pleased to capture a Stella’s Blue Jay on film. he seemed to be watching the waterfall with us – but was probably more interested in the potential for any crumbs from our Cliff bars. No chance! 

We were fortunate to see elk in the forest during our hike. They are very hard to spot – well camouflaged – now you see it, now you don’t. The bugling was loud – there must have been a male in the vicinity somewhere. You could see the female turn her head to hear the cries. Then – a bit further along – we saw the male. Those antlers are awesome!  Some of the fire damaged trees looked just like elk antlers?! 

We met a couple from Ohio who have a condo here in Colorado – they are looking to retire out here in 2-3 years time, when her health insurance is all fully paid up. Interesting what a big impact that has out here. they are choosing Colorado to retire to because it has 300/365 days sunshine a year and very low humidity plus – they love hiking in the mountains. They drive 24 hours to get out here from Ohio, sleeping on the road on the way.  He was a firefighter (already retired 2 years) – she is working part time in an office. We hiked the last couple of miles of the trail with them, talking about the fires in the Fern Lake area (very severe recently), American politics and gun law. They are here for 6 weeks (she can do her job remotely) and will be able to enjoy snow shoeing by the end of their stay. Great company, again. This is such a friendly country!

We rounded off the evening with a lovely spaghetti bolognese Colorado style, using the last of the smoked bacon we had bought. It certainly packed a punch of flavour.

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