The farm was nice, but it was getting uncomfortably hot down on the plain... and we didn't have proper electrical hookups, so the only way to have air conditioning was to run our generators. Jan hates the sound of a generator. I don't mind it as much, but listening to it from ten in the morning till six at night, plus the roar of the air conditioner, was getting tiresome. It was time to move on to a higher, cooler location. We chose Mount Evans.
The road up Mount Evans has many twists and turns. We found a nice boondocking spot on Forest Service land, two thirds of the way to the top of the mountain, making it a perfect staging point for day trips to the summit.
The road is paved all the way to the top, making it easy to drive up to the 14,000-foot summit. We went up mostly in the afternoons, when the light was best and the mountain goats were coming back down from their daily trip up the slopes. On the way up, we passed several lakes that presented striking vistas. This is Abyss Lake...
...and I think this one might be Lincoln Lake. I (I shot it from the car window as we drove back down one evening, using my iPhone.)
I managed to get some good photos of the marmots. They're all over the upper slopes, sunning themselves and obviously enjoying life. (No predators up here!)
But for me, the main attractions on Mount Evans were the mountain goats. Singly and in groups they roam the mountains freely. Even the newborn kids are astonishingly agile, as you'll see a little later.
The goats seem unafraid of humans, but there's always an adult posted as a lookout, keeping an eye on things:
Jan and James used their big tripods and long lenses to full advantage, while I got by with my Panasonic FZ150's built-in 24x zoom, leaning against a rock or bracing my elbows against my body for stability. I do own a tripod and a monopod, but on a field trip like this where I'm going to be scrambling over rocks, I find they just get in the way, so I improvise support. It works pretty well, and makes "grab shots" easy. I don't even use a lens cap—it would just slow me down.
Shooting from a little below the goats is a great way to catch them silhouetted against the blue sky.
When the goats wandered off for awhile, I'd just lean back and watch the clouds—so close that I felt as if I could reach out and touch them, constantly moving, changing, growing, merging... endlessly fascinating!
At almost three miles altitude, you don't move too fast (unless you're a goat!) or you'll run out of breath pretty quickly. I took it easy and enjoyed the sights. After spending most of the past seven years in New Mexico at altitudes around 4,000–8,000 feet, and camping here in Colorado for several weeks at 10,000 feet, I'm pretty well acclimated... but at 14,000 feet I could definitely feel the lack of oxygen, so I took deep breaths and moved slowly.
We usually went up the mountain in the late afternoon, when the light was growing warmer and more dramatic. Toward the end of the day, as the sun slowly sank, it gave each goat a halo of gold.