My heart has been heavy lately. Between the difficulties of adjusting to the new job, the long commute, difficulty sleeping during the day (since I work nights), missing my Mom - whose birthday would have been this past Tuesday, the ever increasing to-do list for my little home, the yard - which seems ten times the size it was when I bought the house, and trying to keep up with it all, much less make progress with, not to mention the fact that my creative muse seems to have up and left me high and dry... I needed a day of rest and relaxation, a short escape. With Rocky Mountain National Park just over an hour away, a spontaneous day in the mountains seemed just the thing. It was gorgeous with blue skies, fluffy white clouds and a comfortable day.
No sooner did we drive into the park, when we came across this herd of Bighorn Sheep rams at the salt lick in Horseshoe Park. Behind them several bull Elk in growing velvet horns. What a treat! My daughter took it as a sign that we were "meant to come".
Just 3 short weeks ago, the aspen were still barren, but now their bright spring green leaves glow against the ponderosa pines.
We headed for our favorite hidden corner of the park, past the recently burned area, where the grass is growing in lush and green and the sound of frogs fills the air!
Our picnic spot was also touched by fire, though by the wildflowers and green grass, you can hardly tell. We had a peaceful hour here, eating our picnic lunch, sketching wildflowers and trees until a brief sprinkle of rain caused us to head on to other parts of the park.
We headed up to the tundra to see the deep cuts through the snow. We enjoyed those, but watching this Bighorn ram right next to the road was the real highlight!
And down in the rocks, I spied this little critter, a Pica, the smallest member of the rabbit family that lives up in these high peaks. I was thrilled to see it as they are becoming rarer with our warming climate.
After enjoying the tundra, we headed back down and spent a couple of lovely hours enjoying the late afternoon in the woods where we sat and sketched some more, watched the birds and just enjoyed the sights and sounds of the woods.
We saw lots of Magpies ~ so gorgeous with their pristine black and white!
As we headed towards home, we spied these two bull Elk resting in the evening light.
Longs Peak is just barely visible over the ridge on the south side of Horseshoe Park. I love the colorful willows. A lovely sight to send us home with lighter hearts than what we arrived with.