A Trip Up Mount Evans
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved roadway in North America, topping out at 14,130 feet. IMHO it also has to be one of, if not the most spectacular roads I have ever driven.
Climbing over 7,000 feet in 28 miles, the road travels through groves of evergreens at the start, then …
… through a rare forest of ancient, some as much as 2,000 years old, Bristlecone Pines …
… then breaks above treelike, providing spectacular long range vistas.
There are many miles of road above treeline, with several switchbacks and lots of unprotected drop-offs, as in no guardrails. Not for the faint of heart, but truly spectacular views.
There is a small paved parking lot at the summit …
… where the adventurous can scramble up these large boulders to the true peak of the mountain. Delighted that I could still simply breathe at this altitude, I decided not to push my luck and join those folks up there in the clouds.
Mount Evans Crest House, the castle in the sky, was completed in 1941 and was destroyed in a fire in 1979. The surviving stone and concrete walls were stabilized and the remnants of the building now serve as an observation structure. During my hour at the summit, the weather went from sunny and hazy, though still brisk in the 50’s, to blue sky, to light rain, to snowing, much to the delight of several of the small kids at the top.
Mount Evans Mountain Goats
Much to my delight, just below the summit, I noticed this mountain goat mom and kid taking a noon time siesta. Though not that far from the road, they were actually pretty easy to miss amongst all the light rocks surrounding them.
I pulled my photo gear out of the car and hiked off the road a bit to get a little closer once the mom and kid got up and began to graze.
Mom was joined by another nanny and kid that I had failed to initially see, and they slowly started walking across the side of the mountain.
The two kids joined up and fell in behind their moms …
… but like any small kids, one of these guys seemed to be a bit of an agitator ….
… turning and blocking the other’s way …
… not letting him catch up to his mom, as he clearly wanted to do.
Not far away, I spotted a solitary male, surveying his domain, still wearing the remnants of last winter’s coat.
He soon was off, heading up the slope towards the summit.
Loved getting the opportunity to get some nice shots of a large male mountain goat in his high altitude habitat.
Not having ever had the opportunity to be this close to a mountain goat before, I was impressed with just how stocky and powerfully built this rugged guy was. Living up here in this rarefied air, I imagine a lot of that bulk has be taken up with a large set of lungs.
As I descended, I noticed more goats feeding and bounding amongst the large boulders that make up most of the summit of the mountain.
Pretty nimble, graceful fellows.
A great pose from a pair of Mount Evans mountain goats. After two months of searching for elk, goats, and sheep, with nothing to show for it, I have now found two of the three just this week during my stay at Twin Lakes. Though I didn’t bother to take any shots, being just too far away, I also found a large herd of Bighorn Sheep, ewes and lambs only, while heading down the mountain.
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