Colorado – Loveland Pass- Beautiful but Forget it!

I am including this post for a couple of reasons.

1.  Unless you don’t have a problem with altitude, or have already adjusted to altitude, don’t attempt to stop and look for birds at 12,000 feet.  It is foolhardy since you will spend all your time adjusting to the altitude and not looking for birds.  Spend your time at that altitude taking in the scenery and get the heck back down to a lower altitude.

2. The odds of you finding birds – say a White-tailed Ptarmigan – is slim to none anyway.  So don’t make yourself sick unless you have adjusted to altitude.

So there you have my 45 minute stop at Loveland Pass – 11,990 feet above sea level.  On my trip from Denver to Grand Junction I thought I would stop, take an hour, and look for the White-tailed Ptarmigan that had been reported.

I had been told that drinking water would counter some of the effects of altitude.  So I had been drinking water all day.  Plus chewing gum which always helps lesson the effect of altitude change. But immediately getting out of the car I thought I was going to fall down. So I stood for a few minutes and held the car. A few minutes later I felt better and since I was there, I might as well take a short walk.  I made it a few feet and grabbed the back end of a sports car.  Luckily no alarms went off.  A few minutes later I could walk fairly normal, abet at a slow pace.

So I spent the rest of the time taken short walks, taking pictures, and listening to one distant bird. Then I figured it was time to get down off this mountain.

I would like to hear if you have had problems like this at altitude.

Looking back north above the tree line.
Not much growing up here for birds to eat.
Except of course dandelions.
On the trail leading to the summit, a White-tailed Ptarmigan had been reported the week before. I thought about trying for about 2 seconds.
The only bird I heard or saw. Looks sort of like a Song Sparrow but didn’t sound like one. Ideas?
And I couldn’t wait to get back down to I-70, shown in the distance. The famed Eisenhower Tunnel is just to the left.

6 Replies to “Colorado – Loveland Pass- Beautiful but Forget it!”

  1. Bummer! Finding the ptarmigan would have been a nice reward for the suffering. I’ve never birded at that elevation…not yet anyway. Would like to get out that way some day to look for a Clark’s Nutcracker.

    1. Spoiler Alert! I overcome altitude and see a Clark’s Nutcracker. One of the best side jaunts of the trip.

      I will get into it in a later post but I had never had problems with altitude before. It was the rushing up so fast to Loveland Pass I think was the problem. So I learned a few things about dealing with altitude.

      Are you going to start blogging again?

  2. I made an effort about five years ago to see the ptarmigan here in late April. I had already stayed in Denver a couple of days and spent time getting to higher elevations daily. Nonetheless, upon reaching Loveland, I felt nauseous and dizzy. It was also quite snowy, windy and freezing. I gave up quickly. I continue to research “easy” ways to see one as well as a Himalayan Snowcock for my life list. At seventy, I may not be up to it.

    1. Thanks for the comment Diane. I don’t know if there is an easy way to see one besides sitting in Denver, waiting for someone to find one 2 feet from the road, and driving to see it. Otherwise it isn’t going to happen for me.

      I have already concerned my US life list is going to be missing a few species. We took a cruise several years ago and I’m not sure I’ll ever get on a ship or boat again. I’ve had some luck seeing sea birds from points like Cape Cod and Cape Lynn in Massachusetts so I’ll continue to position myself on those type of places. But probably not pelagics. Or high altitude for that fact.

  3. Don’t know about the birds. Just happy to be at 11990 above sea level. Then the tour guide says climb the little knoll, and you’ll be 12000 feet above sea level. Cool, I thought, as I bounded up the steps. Not so good as I was sucking the big ones in. Know how why those Olympians have to adjust now. Didn’t see any birds. The view was worth it.

    1. Sounds like you were feeling OK before you bounded up. I couldn’t have “bounded” if I had wanted too! Head swimming too much. And there weren’t very many birds to see anyway. Thanks for commenting.

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