AmeriCorps 2020: Moose!

This post continues the tale of my 2020 AmeriCorps service term in Boulder, Colorado. The rest of this series is located here.

I awoke on the morning of August 8, 2020 feeling rather unrested. I hadn’t slept well the previous night, since I had laid down in an uncomfortable position. Despite my morning grogginess, this would turn out to be my favorite day in Colorado, partially because I saw an animal that I’d wanted to see my entire life.

My friend Mark and I had my favorite kind of morning: a lazy one. We made coffee, ate breakfast, and lounged around camp.

Some purple flowers just outside our campsite, as seen on the morning of August 8, 2020.

I find these slow mornings to be incredibly rejuvenating. When I’m able to rise slowly – without the pressure of a schedule – and allow my body to wake up at its own pace, then everything seems to go better.

Once Mark and I had had enough of our lazy morning, we decided to go for a hike. We started off by following the Forest Service road that we were camping along, which was surprisingly beautiful. It was a dirt/gravel road, and surrounded by a forest of conifer trees and aspens on most sides.

After a while, Mark and I left the Forest Service road to follow a winding path. It led us up a steep hill that was difficult to climb in spots, but we were rewarded at the top with amazing views of the nearby mountains.

Mark and I took some time to catch our breath and enjoy the views, before we descended the hill and returned to camp for lunch.

Not content with our morning excursion, Mark and I decided to explore more of the area in the afternoon. This time we ended up walking through a wet meadow, which I kept thinking resembled prime moose habitat. Sure enough, we found several moose tracks.

A patch of habitat in which Mark and I found several moose tracks.

At this point I began to have mixed feelings. I’d always wanted to see a moose, since they’re such unique animals, but trudging through tall vegetation without much visibility was not how I wanted to have my first encounter. This is because moose can be very aggressive when threatened, and surprising one at close range seemed like a bad idea.

For better or worse, though, Mark and I made it back to camp without running into any moose.

The purple flowers near our campsite again, but this time in the afternoon.

After a break for dinner, we drove to a nearby campsite called Rainbow Lakes. This campsite was much higher in elevation than our Forest Service road; and, as the name suggests, it contained lakes. I didn’t check to see if the lakes were made of rainbows, though.

The road through Rainbow Lakes was rough and narrow as it wound up a mountain. We followed it, slowly, observing how the fancier campers lived. Eventually, after we’d climbed for some time, we beheld an incredible sight: to our right, not far off the road, was a mother moose with a calf.

The mother and calf were peacefully browsing in a dense patch of trees. Mark and I watched them for several minutes, and I did my best to snap some pictures with my zoom lens. However, the thick forest made this difficult. Not wanting to bother the moose, Mark and I drove on and then turned around, so that we could head back to camp.

Later that night, I tried my hand at night sky photography. I was a novice photographer, and didn’t have a tripod with me, so this proved exceptionally challenging. I placed my camera on a tree stump for stability; and, following advice given to me by a professional photographer named Joseph Wyman, set my camera to a very slow shutter speed.

I then took several photos. Most were garbage, but there were two that sort of turned out alright, which was acceptable for my lack of experience and horrible setup.

After our night sky photo experiments, Mark and I went to bed. This concluded my best single day in Colorado. I’d gotten to live life at my own pace, explore a gorgeous corner of the Rocky Mountains, and see two moose.

The next day, August 9, would be the perfect conclusion to our weekend camping trip.

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