Catamount Reservoirs

I started to write a post with pictures from the three weekends this month I spent camping, but today’s hike was interesting so I’m writing it up while it’s still fresh. Also, I’m playing with photo editing software, so some of the pictures in this post are cropped and/or have the color balance adjusted.

My first choice for a hike today fell through (I couldn’t find parking within half a mile of the trailhead…) so I ended up in Green Mountain Falls to hike up to the Catamount Reservoirs. I parked by the pond, which had ducks in it:

From town it was a long hike up the side of the valley. I passed a few groups of people lower on the mountain (including one with a dog that just didn’t trust me, he had a hard time getting past me because the trail just wasn’t wide enough to stay back from me), but once I passed the waterfall (pictures of that later) I didn’t see anybody else out. There were a couple spots with gaps in the trees to look down and see the town:
Green Mountain Falls

Once I hit the top of the ridge the trail descended slightly to follow the creek through a remarkably green meadow (picture not taken by the creek, that section was too overgrown to have any sort of view):
Garden of Eden Meadow

As the trail exited the meadow I passed a national forest boundary sign, and shortly after that the trail dumped me out on a road. The Catamount reservoirs are dammed and used as part of the city water supply, so there are a number of utility buildings and maintenance roads downhill from the dams (which is where the trail from town is). Also, the reservoirs are also accessible to the public for fishing and boating (at least kayaks and such) so there were parking lots and restrooms nearby once I finally found my way to the water.

Last weekend we hiked the crags, which I believe ends up on top of the large diagonal piece of rock to the right of this picture:

Obligatory picture of Pike’s Peak, too bad the water wasn’t smooth enough for a reflection:
Pike's Peak

During the vast majority of the hike it was overcast, though thankfully there was very little rain. This was one of the few sunny moments
Sun on the water

Public access to the reservoirs stops at 7pm, which was unfortunate because I didn’t actually get there until about 6:30. I didn’t get sent off by the park ranger who was driving around making sure everyone was leaving, but I don’t think I made it back to the national forest until about 5 after.

I took most of my waterfall pictures on the way down. With the fading light the shutter speed was slower, so the falling water is a blur instead of a sharp snapshot:

Eventually I made my way back down to where I parked. That bit of water was still enough for a little reflection, though it would have been better had a duck not swam across right before I took the picture (or if I’d noticed at the time and waited to try again):

Florida Vacation

A couple weeks ago I was in Florida for family vacation. We had some days with good weather:

Some bad weather:

And a great sunrise (the one morning I actually got up early enough to see it):

Overall it was a great week, even if the water was too calm for boogie boarding most of the week but too murky for snorkeling (presumably due to the dredging they were doing for beach replenishment).

It turns out the birds were the most interesting part of the week (at least when I had my camera out), especially the heron that would perch on the boardwalk of our house or one nearby to preen itself after the rain. Before I get to that, here’s the one good picture I got of a Black Skimmer:

And here are the best of the pictures I took of the neighborhood Great Blue Heron: