I finally saw a moose! Seven, to be exact. For the two years we've been here I've heard about moose and elk up in the Indian Peaks near us and wanted to see them in the wild. But I've haven't been up there much and didn't see any when I did get up there.
But yesterday as we hiked up, up, up to Blue Lake which is in the Brainard Lake region of the Indian Peaks and we saw three big moose near one of the lakes we passed.
Here's the scene from down our trail.
Here's a closer look.
And here's a cropped in view.
And that, my friends, is as close as we got.
But, on the ride up to Brainard Lake, on Highway 72 about a mile to the turn off, four big bull moose came plodding down the road in the lane heading towards us! As they approached our car they got spooked and broke into a run, hurrying across the highway in front of our car and into the woods on our right. Now that was exciting!
One of the bulls had blood on its antlers, very similar to the moose in this photograph by Jeff Mitton for the local Boulder newspaper, The Daily Camera.
Here's Jeff's description of why the antlers get so nasty looking:
During summer, antlers are covered with velvet, a layer of skin with a dense layer of short fur. The skin is highly vascularized to bring oxygen and nutrients to the bone, which grows quickly from spring through summer. But in the early fall, the skin dries and the antlers cease growing. The moose rub their antlers against branches and small trees, scraping the velvet off. This moose had scraped off some but not all of the velvet, so his antlers were ragged and grisly. (Moose in the Willows, The Daily Camera, 9/17/2010)
If you can imagine a big moose with "grisly" antlers like these running with three other big bull moose right by your car, you'll know why I was so thrilled.
Blue Lake was blue and beautiful.
Besides the seven moose we got to see another creature of the wild, the ever popular striped chipmunk.
Now to see some elk. It's said that they roam the streets in Estes Park during the fall, so a car trip up there is on my list!