Eight Is Not Enough

Eight is not enough unless it’s Bighorn rams all in an unexpected bunch walking along highway 14 on a Friday afternoon. Then eight is plenty. I mean you can be greedy and ask for more but that is just plain selfish, eight is enough. They’re bunched up pretty good but look carefully and count and you’ll find eight good rams there amongst the ewes. They stayed tightly grouped like this. You could have dropped a net over the whole lot of them and got them all.

The rut is over, at least for this bunch it is. For those of you in the know the rut is when the rams get all chesty and full of themselves and believe that they are each God’s gift to the ewes and are the only ones fit to breed and gift the world with their progeny and will battle to the death with the other rams to prove it. But when it’s over and the fighting is done and the breeding is finished they’re all like “Dude! How you doing. Sorry ’bout that! You OK? Let’s go get a Pizza. No, I’m buying. You still got a headache, me too.” They’re all BFF, until next year that is, then it happens all over again.

This group of about fifteen animals appeared to be in really good shape. Healthy, well fed, alert. They’re not all that skittish, allowing people to be within 50-75′ before they begin moving off but they will bolt uphill at sudden movements of any observers. It may be stating the obvious but the rams are heavy bodied and have the very heavy horns and the ewes have smaller bodies with the small somewhat short horns. There is always one or more of the ewes on watch and the rams tend to stay on the outside of the herd but not always. The more at ease they are the less they appear to be in defense mode.

These guys were spotted on March 2 and it was in the 50’s in the mountains. What that means for an early spring is anybody’s guess with our nonexistent global warming happening, but whatever it is here’s your Bighorns. Enjoy.

There Be Trout Fishes Here



This is the Cache La Poudre river, the one that runs downhill alongside of Hwy 14 in what we locals call the Poudre canyon. Non-locals call it that too as that is its rightfully given name but the locals were calling it that first so we get to say it’s our river and the non-locals just get to visit it. Besides they usually say it funny, like Poo-dray canyon or Pooh-Der canyon, which makes us laugh really hard. We’ll trick them into saying it and then just laugh like idiots when they do. There’s lots of knee-slapping fun in talking to the tourists about the Poudre.

You’ve already seen parts of it in previous posts. Most recently while it was covered with snow and before that when it was filled with sunshine, kind of like this picture which was taken the day after the snowstorm. It’s when it looks like this, all sunlit with the water just the right depth so you can wade out into it and see the bottom, listening to the rocks clunk together under water as you slip and slide over them, that draws the fisher-folk out of their cubicles and homes and jobs so they can sneak up here and do fishing. There’s lots of calling in sick on day like this.

This is a particularly good place to go after those trout. That big wide quiet spot in the river above and below the small rapids are where the real fishermen and I guess fisher girls think they’re going to catch that 3 lb. rainbow or that big brown they saw there last week. Maybe they will maybe they won’t. Those fishes are wily. They’re on to a lot of the tricks those fisher types try and play on them. Sending single salmon eggs down through there on a small hook. There hasn’t been a salmon in this river since Haysoose was a lance corporal and they’re still trying to pull that one on them. Lots of fin slapping when they get together in the evening and talk over the days activities.

No the guys who have the best chance of catching something are those boys who do that fly-fishing. They’re the ones those fish have to watch out for. Those old boys tie their own fly’s that look just like a real bug. They use fly’s they’ve tied with names like English Pheasant tail,  Flashback Scuds wet hare’s ear, Griffiths Gnat, Moto’s Minnows, and Bead Head Flash Zonkers and many more, some with strange names. Besides they look like fishermen. They’ve got fishermen suits on and hats with fly’s stuck all over them and they’re confident. They wear suspenders. You got to be confidant to wear suspenders. They all carry nets to get those caught fish out of the water with, and they do something non fly fishermen don’t. After they go through all that trouble of catching that big trout, they look at it, maybe weigh it with a fancy little scale they carry just for that, and then they let them go. Just like that. They set them back in the river, wait a minute or so to make sure they’re going to be ok, then just set ’em free. Cool, right?

Some times even the fly fishermen don’t catch anything. I’ve seen that happen. They spend the whole day fishing and don’t catch a fish. You’d think they’d be mad, but I’ve seen them at the back of their pickup trucks, tailgates down, maybe a beer sitting there, taking off their gear and looking  back at the river with a little smile on their face. They aren’t mad. They’re just thinking about the next time when they come out and really nail that big fat rainbow that was dozing down at the end of the pool. I’ve heard them talking to their buddies in a quiet kind of way saying things like “You know, he was just lazing down there hardly moving, sweeping his fins back and forth and I landed that wooly worm right in front of him. He sorta looked at it and it was like he was laughing or something. I’ll get him though. Next time.”

A photographer’s day is somewhat like those fishermen’s day. Some days we don’t catch a picture, but it doesn’t matter. We’ll get it tomorrow, or the next time.


Snow In The Canyon



Wouldn’tcha just know it. Yesterday the sun was shining, it was almost hot with the temps in the mid 60’s and today just a few miles away as the crow flies, if he wasn’t frozen and stuck to his perch, it was cold, windy and the temps were in the low 30’s.

This is the Poudre River canyon where Colorado hwy 14 climbs up along the mountain along side the Cache La Poudre river as it rushes down to the flatlands below. In the background you can see the snow heading this way. It’s not a full-blown storm yet, more of a test or a warning that it’s going to be doing this in earnest before you can say “Maui, I want to go to Maui.”

It’s serious though, the storm that is, look back into that dark, opaque gray way up the canyon. Cars were coming out of that with 3 or 4 inches of snow on them. The elevation right here is between 8 and 9 thousand feet and it’s much higher up there where it is really snowing. What that means is the leaves that are trying so hard to change color are soon going to be lying on the ground and floating down the river and all of these aspen* are going to be standing here with their bare little branches sticking out, nude and defenseless until next spring, which is a long, long way away.

The danger here is that snow at this time of year is usually sticky and heavy with moisture and will cling to those bright golden aspen leaves and cause them to fall off much sooner than they would have without the snow. The leaves are in a weakened state and are barely clinging to their branches now and the slightest little breeze will send them flying off into the great unknown.

What that means for a photographer is that if you want color you better get your keester up there and shoot like you mean it for as long as you can, before the leaves are all gone off the trees and it’s game over. So today bright and early it’s off to the now chilly mountains and getting used to shooting with a heavy down coat, gloves and a thermos of hot tea again. With a little luck the storm will have blown through and left some of the leaves on the trees.

But even though the scene is muted isn’t it one of the most beautiful places in the world? Regardless of the conditions and discomfort it is a real treat to be able to be out there, communing with nature, freezing your hiney off, and seeing some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. Someone has to be taking pictures and saving these views for all to enjoy next summer when we’re all whining about how hot it is. Besides if I wasn’t doing this I might have to get a real job and that would really suck.

* Actually these bright yellow trees are cottonwoods. If you turn around and look across the road you’ll see the aspen standing there. Oh wait, this is a picture and you can’t look over there. You better just come along then and I’ll show you exactly where they are. Hurry up we’re going to miss them. And don’t forget your gloves.