August 15, 2016 Twin Lakes, Colorado

Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat

A Trip Up Mount Evans

From the Mount Evans Road
From the Mount Evans Road

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.

From the Mount Evans Road
From the Mount Evans Road

Climbing over 7,000 feet in 28 miles, the road travels through groves of evergreens at the start, then …

Mount Evans Bristlecone Pine
Mount Evans Bristlecone Pine

… through a rare forest of ancient, some as much as 2,000 years old, Bristlecone Pines …

Above Treeline on the Mount Evans Road
Above Treeline on the Mount Evans Road

… then breaks above treelike, providing spectacular long range vistas.

From the Mount Evans Road
From the Mount Evans Road
Above Treeline on the Mount Evans Road
Above Treeline on the Mount Evans Road

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.

Above Treeline on the Mount Evans Road
Above Treeline on the Mount Evans Road
Mount Evans Road From the Summit
Mount Evans Road From the Summit
At the Summit of Mount Evans
At the Summit of Mount Evans

There is a small paved parking lot at the summit …

At the Summit of Mount Evans
At the Summit of Mount Evans

… 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.

Summit of Mount Evans
Summit of Mount Evans

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.

Nanny and Kid
Nanny and Kid

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.

Mount Evans Nanny
Mount Evans Nanny

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.

Mount Evans Nanny on the Move
Mount Evans Nanny on the Move

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.

Two Kids
Two Kids

The two kids joined up and fell in behind their moms …

Mount Evans Two Mountain Goat Kids
Mount Evans Two Mountain Goat Kids

… but like any small kids, one of these guys seemed to be a bit of an agitator ….

Two Kids
Two Kids

… turning and blocking the other’s way …

Mount Evans Two Mountain Goat Kids
Mount Evans Two Mountain Goat Kids

… not letting him catch up to his mom, as he clearly wanted to do.

Mount Evans Two Mountain Goat Kids
Mount Evans Two Mountain Goat Kids
Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat

Not far away, I spotted a solitary male, surveying his domain, still wearing the remnants of last winter’s coat.

Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat

He soon was off, heading up the slope towards the summit.

Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat

Loved getting the opportunity to get some nice shots of a large male mountain goat in his high altitude habitat.

Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat

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.

Three Mountain Goats
Three Mountain Goats

As I descended, I noticed more goats feeding and bounding amongst the large boulders that make up most of the summit of the mountain.

Mount Evans Mountain Goat
Mount Evans Mountain Goat

Pretty nimble, graceful fellows.

Mount Evans Mountain Goats
Mount Evans Mountain Goats

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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