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Message #2832 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones  
Rocky Mountain National Park
3/3/06, 11:40pm (Last Edited: 3/4/06, 12:35am)

As promised, I made it into Rocky Mountain National Park during my visit to Colorado. This is my first visit to the park during the winter.

The park was snowbound and only the first 10 miles of the park road were open from the western side.

This Florida boy tried out snowshoes for the first time. The guy at the rental place told me that the shoes I got should float right on the snow with no problems. I could not get the straps to remain tight and I did take a step off of the packed trail and post holed and face planted into the snow. It's all good though.

I found that most of the wildlife had migrated to lower ground to the west and over on the eastern slope near Estes Park.

I did find some sign of some recent passings and I spoke to a park ranger who had seen a cow moose and calf a week or so earlier.

My snow shoes would not let me walk in stealth nor in comfort. I did hike a little ways down the Onahu Trail. This trail is an old friend as I backpacked this section of trail several years ago. I found it interesting to see a different face to the trail with my winter visit. This trip I did find a lone squirrel casually working away at his winter cache of food. He entertained me a while before disappearing down through a network of holes in the snow with his winter meal.

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Message #2833 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones
BestLight
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/4/06, 7:39am
You know the old cliche about the New Yorker who doesn't notice the Statue of Liberty? I guess that's me witht the beauty of Colorado.

Thanks, Rob, for allowing me to see it through your eyes. Excellent pix!

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Robert Jones
Thomas Canty
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/4/06, 10:19am
>This Florida boy tried out snowshoes for the first time. The
>guy at the rental place told me that the shoes I got should
>float right on the snow with no problems. I could not get the
>straps to remain tight and I did take a step off of the packed
>trail and post holed and face planted into the snow.

LOL... It takes a while to get used to those. When I bought my pair a few years ago, I headed to a picnic area near Islip Saddle on Angeles Crest Highway where there was just a foot or two of snow so I could practice. Once you've got the hang of it, it isn't so bad, but you sure do get a workout!

Nice pictures. Great job on the squirrel. He's a lot darker than the ones we have out here.

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Message #2841 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones  
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/4/06, 12:53pm
>You know the old cliche about the New Yorker who doesn't
>notice the Statue of Liberty? I guess that's me witht the
>beauty of Colorado.
>
>Thanks, Rob, for allowing me to see it through your eyes.
>Excellent pix!

Lori,

Colorado is one of my favorite places on earth. It will always hold a special place in my heart as I think I discovered myself there. It happened when I was about 12 years old and I stepped off of a airplane in Durango, Colorado. I saw the Rockies for the first time and breathed in that Colorado air. I knew something came alive in me then and the Rockies have sang a siren song to me ever since. I have always wanted to live there in the mountains. Over time, I find that living where I do that I can get away one or two times per year and my reacquaintence is always a renewal of that intitial feeling of awe and appeciation. I think living there that I might desensitize and loose that feeling and I don't want to do that.

I see things here in Florida that others are oblivious to as well. I love living here and I love the people too. I mourn over all of the development that is taking place as I feel like I am aware of what we are loosing that can't be replaced. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who sees it.

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Message #2842 of 4034  *NEW*
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Thomas Canty
Robert Jones  
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/4/06, 12:59pm
My straps kept working loose and then the snow shoe would take a dangle or I would step out of them. I kept having to stop and cinch them up again. I prefer to be a lot more stealthy in the woods. I could not walk without making a lot of noise in those things.

Thanks for the compliment on the squirrel. I am not certain on the type of squirrel. I will have to do some further research. I stopped at the visitor center hoping to get a book that would help me to identify it but they did not have much selection.

That squirrel pic made me think of some of your work.

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Message #2844 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones
Larry Levy  
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/4/06, 2:31pm
graphic
Beautiful pictures!!!!!!

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Message #2847 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones
Thomas Canty
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/5/06, 2:54am
>Thanks for the compliment on the squirrel. I am not certain
>on the type of squirrel.

I'll look through my book when I get home from work and see if I can find it.

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Message #2849 of 4034  *NEW*
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Thomas Canty
Robert Jones  
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/5/06, 7:40am
I am pretty sure that it is a young Abert's Squirrel

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Message #2850 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones
Thomas Canty
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/5/06, 10:00am
>I am pretty sure that it is a young Abert's Squirrel

The Albert's Squirrel in my book is light grey with very long hair on the tips of the ears. That looks nothing like your squirrel here. I'd say that's a negative...

I don't see anything else that really looks similar though. The Eastern Fox Squirrel has the same coloring, but again, the ears are wrong (no hair at all on its ears).

I think the winter color change is making this too difficult. The Eastern Gray Squirrel might be it, but the picture in this book shows the tail over the back, covering the head. Kinda hard to tell from that...

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Message #2851 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones  
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/5/06, 10:07am
I found a picture of an Abert's online that was nearly black. I suspect that the squirrel I have pictured is a juvenile Abert's Squirrel. I also googled mammals of Rocky Mountain National Park and checked the listing of native squirrels. The Abert's was the closest I could find. The tufted ears on this squirrel are not as pronounced as what I saw on the photo of an adult Abert's....There is a degree of uncertainty with this ID though.

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Message #2852 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones  
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/5/06, 11:44am
Thanks to Carol for the ID. I checked RMNP mammals list and the Chickaree is native to RMNP and I found a photo on that site that pretty much confirms the ID especially the white circles around the eyes.

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Message #2853 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones
Carol  
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/5/06, 11:55am (Last Edited: 3/5/06, 11:57am)
graphic
Chickarees are one of my favorite animals. They are very common in the Sierra and the Rockies. They are such vocal squirrels, I've had one chew me out many times when I dare enter their little piece of the woods. They're also very territorial. They eat giant sequoia cones and usually it's just one chickaree per giant sequoia! When they chop down the sequoia cones, watch out! Those little green cones are like a bomb when they come hurling to the ground from 200-300 feet up!

They were also one of John Muir's favorite animals. He called them a "bright chip of nature." He devoted one whole chapter to them in his book "The Mountains of California"...

http://www.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/framein
dex.html?http://www.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibi
t/writings/the_mountains_of_california/chapter_9.ht
ml

"One never tires of this bright chip of nature,--this brave little voice crying in the wilderness,--of observing his many works and ways, and listening to his curious language. His musical, piny gossip is as savory to the ear as balsam to the palate; and, though he has not exactly the gift of song, some of his notes are as sweet as those of a linnet--almost flute-like in softness, while others prick and tingle like thistles. He is the mocking-bird of squirrels, pouring forth mixed chatter and song like a perennial fountain; barking like a dog, screaming like a hawk, chirping like a blackbird or a sparrow; while in bluff, audacious noisiness he is a very jay."

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Message #2854 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones
Carol  
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/5/06, 12:18pm (Last Edited: 3/5/06, 12:23pm)
graphic
It also looks like your chickaree was busy gathering or eating lodgepole pine cones. When I worked at the Centennial Visitor Center in Wyoming during the fall/early winter of 2001, I watched a chickaree gather up an enormous supply of lodgepole pine cones. He cached them in a tree's base that had been scared by fire. In the spring I checked and there was nothing but pine cone skeletons left.

This chickaree was constantly up on my deck when I lived at Camp Nelson eating the bird seed that dropped from my feeder. My two cats loved watching him He's (or she's) a lot leaner than your chickaree.

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Message #2858 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones
murphy brown  
Re: Rocky Mountain National Park
3/5/06, 8:22pm
graphic
SUPER pics again Robert.....I love the one with the squirrel holding a treasure in his mouth.

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