Back to tundra

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54° and hazy. Rumor has it something is moving in and a change is brewing. Just in time too, because yesterday was a scorcher, with it crawling up to 87° here at 8,800 feet. July 24 today is historically the warmest day of the entire year but of course that's an average taken over the last hundred years. But it's good to know we're peaking out and the trend towards cooler temps starts soon. 

Yesterday Elaine and I learned about septic systems. We're pretty much neophytes when it comes to this home ownership stuff, but the goal is to learn it all. We were checking the circuit breaker and noticed the switch for the septic pump, as well as the septic alarm had been flipped to off. That seemed a little strange, so we flipped on the septic alarm and it sounded like somebody busted out of prison. Hmm. After getting online and a little consulting from Elaine's dad we realized that before we bought the place the previous owner (or somebody) had flipped the septic pump off and it was in danger of back flowing. That would have been a mess, so we flipped it on and the pump began doing its thing. Pretty soon the alarm went off. Good news for sure.  The tank got pumped six months ago, so we should be good to go for quite some time. A bit of a crisis for a moment, but the good news is Elaine and I now understand the workings of a septic system. 

After that high excitement we headed up valley to Arapaho Pass. This is an old stand-by – a simple 2,000 climb up to the western edge of the valley we live in along the Continental Divide. Great to be back on the tundra for real after eight straight days of work and some days that crept into the 17 hour range. Back in the 50's they debated putting the Interstate over the pass, and I'm glad they found an alternative. That would certainly have changed the place. 

IMG_1184Quite glad there is not an Interstate highway crossing this place. 

The flowers are simply erupting, with a cornucopia of purples, yellows, reds and pinks dotting the tundra. The mosquitos are out strong in their hell-bent mission for blood and the marmots are enjoying their brief respite from winter. It's strange to think that in just over a month all those flowers will be dead. It's a short but brilliant life they lead. Why anybody who plants flowers up here would want to grow anything but native flowers is beyond me. They are so brilliant. I suppose some folks want flowers that would grow in a flower bed in Paris or Zurich at their cabin in Colorado. Humans are a strange breed. 

IMG_1192The wild flowers are out in force. 

We headed up to the pass, giving the legs and lungs a little work, and hung out on the tundra for a bit identifying flowers and enjoying the evening light. Even got a little chilled, which was kind of nice. There are still some good snow fields under Neva to enjoy some summer turns on. On the way back down I noticed a more centered, relaxed feeling that I have not had in a week. Nature gets you fit, but it also is the best healer for the mind too. 

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On the way up another hiker commented on Elaine's Elk Mountain Traverse shirt. It got us thinking – it's time to get serious about ski season so when the snows of winter come, we're ready. Going to head back up to the divide today, and hopefully if the weather holds, along it, for a 20 mile loop. Time to cook some pancakes, because we're going to need the fuel!

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