In September, David and I took a drive to a place called Maroon Bells, which is a mountain in the Elk Mountains about 25 miles from our town of Carbondale. There are two peaks - South Maroon Peak (14,156 ft) and North Maroon Peak (14,014) with Maroon Lake at the foot. This gorgeous scene has the reputation of being the most photographed spot in Colorado. The drive through the White River National Forest is not bad either with its meadows and pine forests laced with golden Aspen trees. It was interesting to learn from the locals that these groves of Aspen trees are really clonal colonies that started from a single seedling and spread via root suckers. Aspen with their shimmering leaves and stark black and white bark can live 40-150 years above ground but the root system lives longer than that. That can be a big plus when surviving forest fires.
The Maroon Bells are also known as the Deadly Bells because they're dangerously unpredictable for hikers. Unstable weak points of mudstone fracture beneath the climbers feet without warning. The Bells got their "deadly" name in 1965 when eight climbers died in five separate accidents that year. That convinces me to stay the photographer on the basin floor where it's safe. That view is enough beauty for me to last a lifetime.
We chatted with the Forest Ranger on our way out and learned that the entrance can be closed from as early as October and not reopen until late May due to avalanches. She said that this past season picnic tables were found split in half from heavy snow. We also asked about hummingbirds since we noticed the hummingbird feeders hanging from the roof. They are quite abundant in the summer. The Rangers keep hummingbird feeders filled outside the entrance building and if the feeders run too low, the hummingbirds actually fly inside their office and hover in front of them with a hungry look on their beaks. I can't wait to see these amazing little creatures next spring.
Now come join us on our Fall drive through White River National Forest and the Maroon Bells. If you like the photos in the video, you can see the still shots in my photo gallery. The video is more enjoyable if you watch it full screen. To do that, click on the 4 arrows to the left of "vimeo".