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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Those Dang Pine Beetles!

Seems like I just got back from a pair of shows in Colorado, but on Aug 26th I went to the airport and jumped on a plane to Denver. My wife had a week off so we had quickly planned a week of camping in the cool mountains of Colorado. I had heard about the damage that Pine Beetles were causing and had seen quite a few dead trees on the mountains near Frisco and Vail two weeks earlier but I got a good look at just how bad it was on this trip. The first three campgrounds we headed to had all been clear cut because the beetles had killed all the trees. Around the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park (Lake Granby and Grand Lake) about 90% of the pine trees are dead. We were planning to camp a couple of nights just inside the west entrance to the park at the Timber Creek Campground. When I saw it had been clear cut and had numerous piles of trees scattered about, my frustrations hit their limit. We went back to the town of Hot Sulphur Springs and got a room. I hadn't showered in three days so it was probably a good idea to get a room anyway. It was quite depressing to see the number of trees that had died in that area.
The next day we drove through the park and found a campsite at the Glacier Basin Campground. Most of the trees were still alive where we camped but one large loop of the campground was closed and they had cut most of the trees down. The top two pictures are of that area.

The eastern section of the park didn't have near the damage as the western side. Only about 10 or 15% of the trees were lost. The two images above were from a mornings shoot at Sprague Lake. You can see a few of the dead rust colored trees on the opposite shoreline.

These last two images were actually from the first day of our trip. We rented a car in Denver and drove to the top of 14,240 foot Mount Evans. The first was from Summit Lake which is not actually at the summit but it is well above timberline. We continued on and right after reaching the top of Mount Evans it began to sleet... and kept sleeting. The temperature was 38 degrees so it was melting. We started down from the mountain but quickly had to pull over to photograph the last scene. I may have created a better image of this scene if the darn sleet hadn't gotten the front of the lens wet.
Our trip was soon over and as we drove back to Denver on Monday evening I thought...why is it so dark already. Sunset is around 7:35PM and its only 7:00PM. While watching TV later in our room I got the answer. The fires in California! When we flew back home the next day we could really see the layer of smoke that was in the area. We had a stop in Amarillo and it also appeared pretty hazy there. I haven't officially heard this on the news but it seemed quite hazy in the Dallas area today also.