Saturday, February 27, 2016

Let's Count Deer

Every year about, this time, early spring, or late winter, we do our official, unofficial deer count in the park. I took all of the photos on this page Thursday evening during the last hour and ten minutes of daylight.
First one we saw
 We will do another as this one fell a bit short. The counting methodology was simple, we drive through the park and count the deer. This week we took on the west side but didn’t have time to do all the roads so our count is unofficial. 
Couple more, only one seems interested in us
One hour drive we saw 24 deer, not bad, but most years we go another ten or so. It's always fun, we drive the last hour of sunlight and go slow enough to try to see as many animals as we can.
These 2 were about 200 yards away, almost missed them
 Not much out this time of year we saw only deer and a few geese, not one turkey.
Water looks cold, but these guys seem to be enjoying it
Next week we will redo this one and do a count on the east side also. Last year our two-day count total was 60. 
Almost dark for this last shot
This week also looks like it will be a good hiking week, not sure which trails we will try but we have an old abandoned road we have wanted to try, maybe this is the week.
Stay late enough and the park will reward you with a stunning sunset

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February and a Walk In the Park

What a beautiful day in the park. I had to look hard to find much ice as it appears about 99% gone.
A Bit of Ice near the dam

 Today we took kids, grandkids and friends for a hike. The temperature was in the low 50s no wind, just a hoody and my ever-present gloves – hands never seem to stay warm.
The lake is back

We hiked the Red Cliff to Museum Loop Trial. A nice hour and a bit more trip. As always it was fun, good exercise, and you just never know what you might see.
These might be the best steps the CCC built in America

With the snow now melted and nearly forgotten and the trails drying out we will be on our, almost every day, schedule of walking in the park.
Get out and see the park and maybe a mink, like this one we watched today

 We like to go east side one day and west the next.
Always interesting raptors in the park

 It is also almost that time of the year for our rather unscientific annual deer in the park count.
Never know what might fly over when we walk in the park

Meanwhile, get out for a hike in one of Wyoming’s great State Parks. 
Museum is well past the half-way point of our hike

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Guernsey State Park - Knight Mountain Trail

The big snow a week ago slowed down our time in the park. At last, we were able to get out for a hike yesterday, Saturday. As we do after every snow, we choose a trail with mostly southern exposure. Yesterday it was Knight Mountain Trail on the east side.
Knight Mountain, the trail winds up this side

I have posted about this trail before, it is a great hike, somewhat challenging, because of the elevation change of over 400 feet, but a nicely maintained trail.  
Some nice rocks along the way - they make for interesting speculation

The Trail

Views from the top, or nearly so, are spectacular. I ended my hike at the last lookout area and didn’t attempt to go on up from there. 
At this point, it is all about the view

One of the parks best overlooks

The rest of the trail is a bit dicey, steep with some significant steps, and recovering from a slight foot injury, I decided to end it about a quarter mile short. This is the spot where most hikers turn around, the top is nice but getting to this point makes for an up and down of nearly an hour. It’s hard to believe that this hike can be an hour or more when total distance is not much over a mile.
On up to the top
It's a wonderful time to get out in the park. The next few days all look to be in the 60s and some in the 70s, hiking weather indeed.

The lake, itself is still ice covered, but I would not be surprised to see it start opening up in the next few days.
Along the way

This week we are planning to get out and hike on the west side trails.

Have a great week.
Almost finished with another great park hike

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Snow Day Walk In The Park

If there is even a remote chance to do something in the park, we will give it a try, even in the snow. 

Not many in the parking lot for the main boat ramps
Yesterday (Saturday) was too nice to stay inside. We pretended that the snow was gone and off we went for a  hike in the park. This time, we choice one of our favorites, Red Cliff as it has quite a bit of southern exposure and we expected not as much snow. 

Steps nearly covered but not bad, only about 4 inches of snow
One of the older markers in the park - the trail splits at this point

Exhilarating as always, and in places, it felt warm as we walked. This trail stays away from the high winds that were gusting and we actually felt quite comfortable.

Seldom used CCC steps on the east side of the circle on the trail.
These steps led up to the back, east side, of Civilian Conservation Corps Camp BR-9

Fisherman far below in black and white
It’s easier when the snow is gone but with the nice snows, we have had this winter, 30 total inches at our place so far, the wildflowers should be exceptional. For those who like to boat, tube, and swim or just relax in the water, the snow pack for the North Platte River is excellent at this point of the snow season. Should be plenty of water, and with the snow, frigid water this spring.

More zoom and color still looks cold - hope he caught a few fish

Looks like the weatherman believes we will get some days in the mid-50s this week. Great hiking weather. Spring is on the way.

One of my favorite photos of wildflowers in the park from last year

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The CCC and a Snowy Day

Snow Trees and Summer Too

With too much snow to get around, I thought that I would take a look at another excerpt from my book, The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Building of Guernsey State Park. I also decided to throw in a few summer photos from the park, make us all dream of warm weather.

Planting of Trees by the CCC

In his notes, J. H. Coffman, Camp BR-9 Superintendent, accounts for the planting of more than 500 trees in the park.[i] (It is likely Coffman was referring to trees planted only on his side, the east side of the park)
This area was a bare hill before the CCC built the Museum and planted the trees in the photo

Other camp diaries mention planting trees and shrubs near the Museum. Early photos of the Museum show the steps going from the lower parking area to the Museum with no trees in sight. If any natural vegetation was present workers removed it to build the great rock steps leading to the Museum. Today it is hard to tell which trees were planted around the park and what trees are old growth products of Mother Nature.
Much of the park has nice stands of natural old growth trees
Trees are difficult to grow in Wyoming and the tree planters of the Civilian Conservation Corps left a legacy of new trees in the park and all across America. Although now lost from old age, one of the most interesting tree plantings in the park was the placing of several apple trees at the low point of Red Cliff Trail near the end of a long flight of rustic rock steps.
Wildflowers last May

They Called it Parkitecture

Like all the buildings in the park, trees were planted in harmony with nature, to blend in and not stand out. Only on the old CCC-built golf course can one readily see trees in a straight line, obviously planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Unlike some CCC projects, trees and shrubs at Guernsey were not brought in. They were dug up along the lake and river then moved around the park.
May is only a few weeks - about 12, away
Although there was no actual count of trees planted in the park, reports vary from 500 to as high as 5,000. If it was the latter number, it likely included shrubs planted around park structures.
Resting on  Camp BR-9s , incredible Red Cliff Trail

[i] J. H. Coffman, Record of Work and Accomplishments of CCC enrollees in Camp BR-9, Wyoming (Wyoming State Parks & Historic Sites Digital Collections – Guernsey Museum Digitization Project) Tabulations of Main Developments, 1