John Martin Dam stood particularly tall and proud into the cool, spring sunrise today. There is something magical, serene and even a bit bone-chilling, about standing on tons of old, solid, man-made concrete, high above the water, while the gentleness, beauty and fragility of Nature wraps around me. In addition, I am standing stock still as the planet under me flies around the sun in vacant space at some unfathomable speed! Hmmm...
The Corps of Engineers began releasing 215 CFS (cubic feet per second), into the Stilling Basin today. While the basin had three large sandbars yesterday, this morning at sunrise, two of them were covered. Harriette Heron stood guard on the third one, waiting for breakfast.
Yesterday, the reservoir held 85,900 acre-feet of water, threatening to gobble up the boat ramps on the north shore and the points of land jutting out on the south side.
Most of the geese have wandered north as the weather warmed here in southeast Colorado. But wildlife prevails through all seasons here at John Martin. A lone Turkey Buzzard flew over me on the dam as my camera checked out the morning sunrise poking through a narrow band of light gray and pinkish clouds on the eastern horizon.
Not as spectacular as some I've enjoyed, but unique and memorable. Shortly after, a sea gull lazily hovered close to the water, followed by two Pelicans who checked out Lake Hasty first and then flew over me to the reservoir. As I passed through the park road, a lone Grebe was diving for his morning snacks.
My sources say 45.5 degree water temperatures prevail at the dam today; spring is here and Nature's wake-up call can be seen in the greening of the trees, the changing of types of wildlife, the warming of the water and air as well as in the slightly northern movement of the sunrise on the horizon.
Deer tracks littered the small gully below Red Shin Standing Ground, giving witness to the unseen park herd that often graze in and around the campground in the early morning or near sunset. Spring is also calling some hardy campers; the Lake Hasty Campground had at least seven of them, taking advantage of brisk, spring breezes off Lake Hasty and beating the early summer rush of tourists to John Martin Reservoir State Park facilities.
As the large, white moon dropped toward the western horizon and the sunrise pale pinks tinged the lacy clouds across the sky, I stood absolutely still for a few moments, absorbing the 'spring' around me; the cool, moist air against my cheeks, the clean smell in my nose, the soothing sounds of waves lapping against the rocks below on the west side of the dam, the distant sound of the seagull...Nature at John Martin Reservoir in the early morning.
The changing of the seasons, one of Nature's yearly marvels, never ceases to overwhelm my humanness with awe and appreciation. Yes, man took millions of dollars, time and effort and numerous materials to create this 118 foot high structure. And humanity's ability to change river flows, fill up valleys with water and cover mountain tops with houses attests to our human power. Yet Nature prevails in the end, and we continue to enjoy her majesty and beauty, particularly at John Martin Dam on the southeast high plains of colorful Colorado.
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