A Landing a Day

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High Creek Fen, Colorado

Posted by graywacke on November 11, 2015

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-three-or-four days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landin above.

Landing number 2225; A Landing A Day blog post number 653.

Dan:  This is one of those smack-dab-in-the-middle landings, particularly obvious when one lands in a nearly square state like . . . CO.  Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

Here’s Part A of my watershed analysis:

landing 3a

As you can see, I landed in the watershed of High Creek (home of the titular fen), on to Fourmile Ck and on to the S Platte River (20th hit).  Zooming back for Part B:

landing 3b

The South Platte makes its way to the Platte (67th hit), on to the Missouri (401st hit), and, of course, on to the MM (867th hit).

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight in to it-doesn’t-get-anymore-central-than-this Colorado:

//screencast-o-matic.com/embed?sc=co6IFbhcMt&w=820&v=3

Staying with the central theme of this post, the town of Hartsel (just 10 miles southeast of my landing) claims to be the geographic center of the state.

As you can see on my local landing map, I also landed near the town of Fairplay.  Well, it turns out that this is the second time that I landed near the town of Fairplay, and I wrote about it in an excellent June 2009 post.  Check it out using the search box if you’d like.

Moving right along.  As often happens with my ALAD posts, I stumble on something interesting by perusing the GE Panoramio photos.  Putting my cursor over the one closest to my landing, here’s what I saw:

GE pano

And here’s the lovely picture of the Mosquito Range (mountains to the west) by StCroix2:

pano stcroix2 mosquito range view 1 mi s

But what on earth is the High Creek Fen?  I see a pond in the foreground, but that’s about it.  On to Google.  It turns out that the Nature Conservancy has a High Creek Fen web page.  From that page:

WHAT IS A FEN?

A type of wet meadow or marshland fed primarily by groundwater that is constantly flowing to the surface.

THE HIGH CREEK FEN

Situated at just under 10,000 feet, this fen is an astonishing vestige of the last Ice Age. The preserve is the most ecologically diverse, floristically rich fen known to exist in the Southern Rocky Mountains. Indeed, it contains more rare plant species (14) than any other wetland in Colorado.

Visit during mid-July to enjoy wildflowers in bloom: You can see Indian paintbrush, bluebell, day lily, pale blue-eyed grass and shrubby cinquefoil.

WHY THE CONSERVANCY SELECTED THIS SITE

In the late 1980s, Dr. David Cooper identified High Creek Fen as the best example of an “extreme rich fen” wetland in Colorado. (Only 2-3 other fens with this classification exist in the entire United States.) The Conservancy is working to keep the fen intact and protect the extraordinary diversity of plants and animals that it supports.

If you REALLY want to wade into the fen (so to speak), I highly recommend that you check out The Aapa Mire blog post on the fen (entitled “High Creek Fen:  A Pocket of Unique Diversity and Beauty in the Southern Rocky Mountains”).  Joe Rocchio is the Aapa Mire guy (and, FYI, Aapa Mire is Finnish for a large, complex, cold-climate wetland).  Anyway, click HERE for his post.

Here’s a Google Earth shot showing the fen (the dark area):

GE 1 High Creek Fen

So artesian groundwater comes up out the ground (fed by groundwater originating at higher elevations in the surrounding uplands), creating the wetlands which form the headwaters of High Creek.  

Here are three of the pictures from the Aapa Mire post, showing the fen landscape:

File name :DSCN6629.JPG File size :377.7KB(386724Bytes) Shoot date :0000/00/00 00:00:00 Picture size :2048 x 1536 Resolution :72 x 72 dpi Number of bits :8bit/channel Protection attribute :Off Hide Attribute :Off Camera ID :N/A Model name :E995 Quality mode :BASIC Metering mode :Multi-pattern Exposure mode :Programmed auto Flash :No Focal length :8.2 mm Shutter speed :1/272.6second Aperture :F5.3 Exposure compensation :0 EV Fixed white balance :Auto Lens :Built-in Flash sync mode :N/A Exposure difference :N/A Flexible program :N/A Sensitivity :Auto Sharpening :Auto Curve mode :N/A Color mode :COLOR Tone compensation :AUTO Latitude(GPS) :N/A Longitude(GPS) :N/A Altitude(GPS) :N/A

File name :DSCN6622.JPG File size :408.9KB(418688Bytes) Shoot date :0000/00/00 00:00:00 Picture size :2048 x 1536 Resolution :72 x 72 dpi Number of bits :8bit/channel Protection attribute :Off Hide Attribute :Off Camera ID :N/A Model name :E995 Quality mode :BASIC Metering mode :Multi-pattern Exposure mode :Programmed auto Flash :No Focal length :8.2 mm Shutter speed :1/250.6second Aperture :F5.3 Exposure compensation :0 EV Fixed white balance :Auto Lens :Built-in Flash sync mode :N/A Exposure difference :N/A Flexible program :N/A Sensitivity :Auto Sharpening :Auto Curve mode :N/A Color mode :COLOR Tone compensation :AUTO Latitude(GPS) :N/A Longitude(GPS) :N/A Altitude(GPS) :N/A

P7260055

I would say that the High Creek Fen will never become a tourist hot spot, because there’s really not that much to look at.  For me, the cool thing is that this wetlands has probably remained untouched for thousands of years.  If you’re a wetlands botanist, it should be on your bucket list . . .

I’ll close with a couple of GE Pano shots.  First this, by cremer9, taken near Hartsel:

pano cremer 9 near hartsell

What a great shot!  And then this (not bad either), taken by EarthScapes about a mile SW of my landing:

pano earthscapes about a mile SE

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

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