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Colorado Seen

02/2011

THE PARK IN

WINTER Also n Asian New year


From the Editor ColoradoSeen continues to evolve. We are moving from a fixed publication date once a month to a floating schedule of 12 (or more) issues per year, publishing as stories are ready. This allows us to respond more quickly to timely events, such as Denver’s Asian New Year celebrations (page 22), and improve the quality and depth of the content. We’ll also be varying the structure and size of the magazine. Some issues will have multiple stories, and some will be devoted to a single subject. We’ve already dropped the table of contents pages as repetitive and a drain on resources better devoted to the stories themselves. We’ll be putting up a notice when a new issue is due. But visit the site often — you never know what you may find.

Colorado Seen An internet image magazine Editor & Publisher Andrew Piper We welcome comments and letters. Submit them to: coloradoseen@comcast.net To submit work or story ideas for consideration, send an e-mail to: coloradoseen@comcast.net If you would like to advertise in ColoradoSeen, send an e-mail to coloradoseen@comcast.net for information on rates and interactive links. Copyright © 2011 ColoradoSeen

On the cover: Clearing winter storm clouds give Rocky Mountain National Park’s Ypsilon Mountain the visage of a seething-but-frosty volcano.

Photographers ColoradoSeen is always looking for compelling photoessays about Colorado. Pitch your idea at www.coloradoseen.com


Eric Pendergrass tows son Henry, 2½, as he snowshoes the Glacier Gorge trail below Bear Lake in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.

WINTER WONDERLAND WALKING IN A

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park goes through a transformation with the change in seasons.


An educational sign showing Horseshoe Park and the Mummy mountain range in summer contrasts with the view in January.


Walking on (frozen) water, snowshoers cross the 33-foot depths of Bear Lake, which in summer is a blue pool reflecting the surrounding mountains.


Story & Photos by Andy Piper

I

t is a leisurely 24-mile drive over Trail Ridge Road from the Kawuneeche Valley on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park to Many Parks Curve on the eastern slope. In the summer. In the winter, when Trail Ridge Road is closed to cars by up to 25 feet of snow, the same trip requires a 180-mile circle over Berthoud Pass, through six counties, and out onto the plains around Denver. But it is only the road that is closed. The two halves of the Park remain mostly accessable, and become different worlds when frosted (or blanketed) by snow and ice. Wildlife come down from the higher elevations to areas where dinner is not buried in a deep freeze. Hikers and campers are re-

A tree holds a lost hat along the shores of Bear Lake, left. A “snow play” area, below, is set aside for sledding and tubing in Hidden Valley, on Trail Ridge Road in the Park’s eastern half.

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Ypsilon Mountain 13,514 ft

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Although the closure of Trail Ridge Road by snow each year in mid-October leaves s the park divided, much of the acreage tn M remains accesable to visitors. r e m (Exactly how much depends on ones m u S tolerance for winter weather er and rugged terrain.) While ev N the number of visitors declines by 90% from peak summer months, there were still 72, 809 visits in December, 2010 — or 2,350 per day. The part of the Park east of the Continental Divide draws visitors from the populous Front Range.

A Park for all seasons

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Glacier Gorge

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Longs Peak 14,259 ft

Wild Basin

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Scale varies in this perspective view


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placed by snowshoers, sledders and skiers — both cross-country and downhill. Rushing streams and springs become ice sculptures Summer thunderheads are replaced by eerie lenticular clouds that hover downwind of the peaks of the Continental Divide like alien motherships. In short, the Park is open for business — just a somewhat different kind of business. “It’s a great place in winter,” says Eric Pendergrass of Fort Collins, snowshoeing with his son, Henry, in Glacier Gorge.

“My wife is a student, so we leave her to study and come up here for some fresh air and exercise. It’s a great getaway.”

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t is a little less crowded, however. With a drop in visitors of nearly 90 per cent (July 2010 saw 699,101 visitors; only 72,809 came in December) the traffic jams and shuttle buses of summer are gone. Although there can be competition for parking spaces at the most popular trailheads for winter

The eastern closure point of Trail Ridge Road is a popular place to snowshoe or ski. 9


A snowshoer crosses a deep drift in the Kawuneeche Valley.


activities — Glacier Gorge and Bear Lake. Even the section of Trail Ridge Road closed to cars is open to foot traffic, and from Many Parks Curve, the hardiest skiers hike in several miles to natural runs of several thousand feet from the ridge down into the Fall River valley and Horseshoe Park. The closed road also offers an open, flat, and easy trail for beginning snowshoers.

Snowfall is heaviest in the Kawuneeche Valley. At left, a campsite notice board is capped with white. Below, tracks show wildlife have simply stepped over a buried fence.

W

esterly winds generally deliver deeper snow to the western half of the Park, giving up their moisture as they climb the heights of the Continental Divide. In the Kawuneeche Valley north of Grand Lake, the braided headwaters of the Colorado River become a smooth white blanket, marked by the tracks of elk, deer, rabbits, birds and hunting predators such as foxes and coyote. And the occasional skier. 11


Low sun and snow reveal the trail left by a hunting coyote casting about for 12


prey on the frozen headwaters of the Colorado River. 13


14


At left, two elk stags lock horns in a battle for dominance in Horseshoe Park. At right, a mule deer stag browses underbrush on the snowbrushed slopes of aptly-named Deer Mountain. Below, a browsing elk carries a hitchhiker — a magpie looking for parasites in the elk’s shaggy winter coat.

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Under a coating of ice and snow, the Roaring River descends into Horseshoe Park from the Mummy Range.


But the eastern half of the park is no stranger to winter storms or deep snow, especially at the higher elevations. Heavy winds, blowing snow, and unplowed white roads can lead to sudden white-out conditions even for drivers in the lower reaches of Moraine Park, the Beaver Meadows, or Horseshoe Park.

A

bove 9,000 feet — the elevation of popular winter activity destinations Glacier Gorge and Bear Lake, the weather can change fast, as the peaks of the Continental Divide high overhead create their own microclimates of wind and snow. And even on clear days, strong winter winds rippling over the mountain peaks mold the surreal formations called lenticular (or lensshaped) clouds. But sun or snow, windy or calm, over 2,300 people, on average, still come each day to sample the special charms of the Park in winter. n

Lenticular clouds form downwind of the Continental Divide, a sure sign of strong winds overhead. 17


Winter gales wreath Longs Peak (14,259 ft) with blowing snow and cloud,


and stir up a ground blizzard on the shores of Bear Lake, below.


Sunlit western ridges of Longs Peak fade away as a snowstorn descends from the Continental Divide. Constantly changing weather is the one certainty at the Park in winter. n


Welcoming the


As lions dance and chestrattling fireworks detonate, a hand lights another string of explosive good luck for the Year of the Rabbit.

New Year with a

bang


Story & Photos by Andy Piper

The year of the Rabbit began February 3, and Denver’s Far East Center celebrated Saturday with fireworks and traditional lion dances to bring good luck to people and businesses.

I

Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, Ben Walin holds a bunny belonging to a young friend. At right, two youngsters in traditional clothing get a boost to watch the lion dance. Opposite, Amanda Smith lifts her lion costume as she climbs a 10-foot pole in pursuit of lettuce representing good fortune. 24

t’s called the cái ching, or “plucking of the greens” — a play on words, since “cái” in Mandarin can mean either “green” or “fortune.” It brings good luck for the New Year. Lions, portrayed by two people in costume, approach an offering (often lettuce) set out by a household or business seeking good luck in the coming year, swallow the greenery, and then spit it out as a blessing. Traditionally linked to Kung Fu societies, for whom it is a sign of success to have a lion dance troupe, the cái ching is the traditional way of celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year. At Denver’s Far East Center, the performance is conducted by the Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu association from Boulder, which also give a dem-


Young members of the Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu school hold banners offering “Good Luck.”

Oranges are an auspicious fruit for the New Year. At right, after the celebration, ‘fortunate’ red and green remains of fireworks and lettuce line the sidewalks 26

Huy Lam (above and right) breaks four paving tiles over his head in a demonstration of Kung Fu mastery during the celebration. onstration of the members’ martial arts’ skills. The troupe conducts the cái ching for every shop or business that hangs lettuce and fireworks over their entryway, usually taking both days of a weekend to visit each locale. The ceremony is accompanied by a procession of banners and a graceful tintinabulation of drums and cymbals. And a rib-rattling 30-second cannonade of hundreds of firecrackers that becomes a physical assault for anyone within a dozen feet. n


As lions dance to bring good luck to a Far East Center restaurant, a young diner looks on in fascination. n


ColoradoSeen 02-2011  

Second issue for 2011

ColoradoSeen 02-2011  

Second issue for 2011

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