The Alpine Tundra

For me, the most magical area, in the Rocky Mountains National Park, was the Alpine Tundra.  Although it was a bit of a hike, it was well worth the climb!

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Elevation 12,005 feet above sea level

“The alpine tundra is a land of contrast and incredible intensity, where the sky is the size of forever and the flowers the size of a millisecond.” ~Ann Zwinger, Land Above the Trees

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The tundra is a very special place.  Strained by bitter winds and cold, only the strong survive.  Even in the summer, the temperatures are very cool.  The trees that border the tundra grow only an inch in diameter every one hundred years.  Here, snow can fall any day of the year, with nighttime temps dipping below freezing.  Unfortunately, with these conditions, the growing season lasts only 6-8 weeks each year.

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Alpine Sunflower (Tetraneuris grandiflora)

During the winter, hurricane level winds, over 100 miles an hour move snow across the tundra.  Drifts up to 30 feet high form, providing a protective blanket of snow for plants and animals.  Learning about the winter in the tundra, made me rethink moving to the tundra!

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Climbing just a little higher in elevation, we came across an area with mushroom rocks.

DSC_0660 These fabulous rocks were created with a little fire and water.  Originally sand, silt and clay from the bottom of the ocean, these materials were met with hot magma from deep in the earth, thus leaving us with lighter colored granite.  The mushroom shapes were formed when the granite stems eroded more quickly than the caps.

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There was nothing more magical than playing above the clouds…

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While exploring these rock formations, we discovered this beautiful compass. We felt a bit like treasure hunters!

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Trail Ridge Mountain Index: 12,304 Feet Above Sea Level

I could have sat for hours, watching the clouds and the mountains play.  The high elevation forced us to move slowly, which was a beautiful gift.
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There was a peacefulness in the tundra unlike any other I have ever experienced when traveling.  I felt connected somehow to this “land above the trees”.  This photo describes my feelings exactly…

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Until we meet again…

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…

♥Roda

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It’s a Girl!

What is it about babies?  I love babies!  Human babies…critter babies…they are all completely adorable!  Baby bees are new to my list of cuteness.  I must admit, they are at the very top!  This little sweetie welcomed me to the hive, during inspection today.

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Baby Worker Bee 

Now keep in mind, the female worker bee constitutes the majority of the colony’s population.  Worker bees do most of the chores for the hive, except for the laying of the eggs which is done by the Queen. These lovely ladies live only 6 weeks during the colony’s busy season.  However, during the winter months, worker bees live up to 4-8 months.  As the worker bee ages, she loses her fuzzy hairs and becomes darker in color.

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Now over 21 days old, these worker bees become field bees. Their main job is to collect pollen and nectar, to sustain the colony.

In this photo, you can see worker bees tending to the brood.  The closed yellow cells hold the hive’s future worker bees.  The open cells are where the baby bees have already chewed their way out. The queen will lay a new egg in the open cells, and the amazing  process will begin, once again.

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The open cells, in the photo below, are filled with pollen.  The closed cells, that look like Kix cereal, in the upper right hand corner, are capped drone brood.  The drone bees are the only male bees in the colony.  They make up an extremely small percentage of the hive’s total population. They have one job and one job only…to fertilize the queen bee.  Because of this, the ladies tolerate the drone’s presence.  Once mating season comes to a close, the drone bees are tossed out the front door, by the worker bees! Life is tough for a drone.
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It was another exciting hive inspection day.  Queen Thelma and Louise both said hello today, too.  It was nice to see them and their freshly laid eggs.  Until next week!

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Jut Be You….

♥Roda

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Roda’s Critter Connection: Elk

I had many encounters with elk, one of the largest members of the deer family, while hiking in the Rocky Mountains.  The elk spend their summers in the alpine tundra, which was my favorite location in the Rocky Mountains.

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I so enjoyed observing and photographing these majestic creatures.  My family finally put limits on my elk photography!  I was told if it was not “special” we were not stopping!  Granted, to their defense, I took a ton of photos.  It is all about balance, once again.

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This beauty was radio collared and seemed to enjoy posing for the camera.  Elk are the only tri-colored member in the deer family, with tan bodies, dark brown manes and a beige rump patch.

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We both enjoyed the wildflowers, for different reasons!

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I enjoyed observing this female elk (called a cow or doe). Considering I was sitting only 15 feet away from her, I think she enjoyed my company.

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…

♥Roda

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