Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Hummingbirds Can Fly at 8,000 Feet

Vega Lake, Colorado

I got up this morning and stepped out to our lakeside campground in the high and remote Vega State Park. My red camera strap was being dive-bombed by dozens of nectar-crazed hummingbirds. I retrieved the camera and held up a pink plastic rose. A stream of hummingbirds flew up to my hand and dipped their beaks into the plastic.

We had intended to camp on top of the 10,000 foot flat-topped Grand Mesa. We dragged the Toyota up the mountain for two hours. When we arrived all the campgrounds were closed and under ten feet of snow. So we went to "Plan B" and spent two nights at 8,000 feet at Vega Lake.

I went for a four-mile hike in the early morning by myself and saw some turkey vultures drying their wings, a Northern Flicker woodpecker and sub-alpine meadows full of wildflowers. Lately, when I hike, my left heel becomes very painful for about 36 hours. It's disturbing. I've read that when you get old, your body starts falling apart. Aside from the results from a few motorcycle crashes, my body has served me well, up to now.

We've driven several hundred miles now in the Colorado Rockies. The state is amazingly green compared to brown Utah, only a few hundred mile to the west. I put it down to the adiabatic process. That is the process by which air drops it's moisture as it is lifted over an elevation as it flows over a mountain range. There are places in Hawaii that get hundreds of inches of annual rainfall as the tropical air get lifted and cooled by flowing over a volcano. I seem to recall that air tends to be two degrees C. cooler for each thousand feet of additional elevation.

We've moved on to Steamboat Springs. There is a lot to do here. Our new GPS sent us down two hours of dusty, washboard, switch-back roads this morning. We made the mistake of asking for the shortest route. Next time, we'll try the quickest.

The rivers and streams are still swollen with snow melt. We saw some kayaks today on the Colorado River who were negotiating some amazing rapids in the canyon on the highway. The kayaks almost disappeared in the huge rapids.

1 comment:

  1. Im thinking that with some practice you may learn the best method of throwing the dog into the air as bait for the birds respestfully, David