Finally, we had a day off with nothing we had to do. No trip to Denver or Colorado Springs for our new truck. No doctor's appointments. Plus, we have been here for a month and are becoming adjusted to the thin air at 9,600 feet elevation. So we went for a hike. We chose a 5 1/2 to 6 mile hike to the old Cheesman Ranch in the north part of the park.
Spring has finally arrived here and the aspen trees began leafing out this week.
A few wildflowers are blooming, a sure sign of spring. Surprisingly, there are lots of dandelions. Since I'm sure you all know what they look like, I'll share some other yellow flowers.
The north end of the park will be closed for most of June, during elk calving. Elk spend the winter here and their browsing on the bark of the aspen trees is visible. Here you can see recent nibbling marks.
We have often seen groves of aspen with black bark scars. Now we know that is caused by elk and deer, feeding on the trees.
The old Cheesman Ranch is picturesque, with a barn and corrals, a small cabin and outhouse.
Just over the ridge, we found a small shed that may have been used for grain storage, as well as a shelter for livestock.
This is where we stopped for a lunch break.
We saw and heard lots of birds during our hike. But the only wildlife we saw was this rabbitt.
We have always enjoyed spending time at Mueller State Park and have been looking forward to a summer in the Colorado mountains. Yesterday we had a beautiful hike and we feel we are beginning to enjoy what we came here for.