Friday, December 23, 2016

Tree Cutting Day - 2016

Time to cut!
It's the big day for those who purchased our Old Fashioned Christmas Package! Tree Cutting Day!

We all load up in our cars and head into the mountains just outside or Roosevelt National Forest. The road gets steep and the snow gets deep. Those with two wheel drive have to bail out and pile in the lodge truck or in one of our four wheel drive vehicles. We keep winding up into the forest and finally arrive! The hot cocoa comes out, the donuts are unboxed, we pass out the saws and point everyone in the right direction... It's time to cut your tree!

This is a truly wonderful experience for families spending their Christmas here at McGregor Mountain Lodge. Traipsing through the snow with your loved ones to find that perfect tree that will add that ever-so-important Christmas cheer to their cabin. Once they pick their tree most families take a family photo in front of it, then take it back to the truck where we label it, and load it up!

After some time playing in the snow and finishing off the donuts and cocoa, we head back to the lodge to deliver the trees to their respective cabins. Our staff follows behind and sets the trees up in our guests cabin(s) all ready for the family's decorating expertise! Most families choose to head out into the park for a day of snowshoeing and maybe some more sledding before coming back to the lodge to begin the decorating!

If you're interested in booking the Old Fashioned Christmas Package, give us a call at 800.835.8439 for more details, or visit our Specials and Packages page on the site here: Packages.


 A few more photos from the day...











Video from the 2015 Tree Cutting Day!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Brat!

As you may know, we host one of the most famous elk to ever walk the Estes Valley. With the exception of Samson, Brat is the biggest "Elk Star" in Estes Park history. He's had his own section of the local paper, he is sought out by guests not even staying at the lodge, and he's had bloggers and newspapers across the country write stories about him.

Brat being Brat.

He showed up about 8 years ago as a majestic bull in his prime. We've seen him every year since. He shows up on the property between the end of October and the end of November, and stays with us, for the most part, until the grass begins greening in May/June. The past few years he has been on a slow decline, for lack of a better word. It's just obvious that he's getting older. He bows out of the rutting festivities earlier and earlier each year, some years he's returned with some gruesome injuries, and his rack has been getting smaller for the past three years.

Making himself at home in front Columbine Cottage #6

Guessing that he was 7 years old, give or take, when he first arrived, that would put him around 15 years old this year, which is quite old for a wild elk. Their average life span is 10-13 years. But without any real natural predators and being protected from hunting in the National Park, the elk here can live a bit longer than their species' average life span.

You can usually find Brat lounging on our mountainside, sometimes directly in front of a cabins door! While he seems to be a gentle giant, we always respect his size, speed, and strength and give him plenty of room. Occasionally, he'll live up to his name and get quite ornery with us and/or guests. A few signs that you're *way* too close: Lowered head, curled (snarled) lip, teeth grinding, hissing, and other vocalizations. He's pretty good about giving subtle clues when he's unhappy. But as a rule, just give him, and all wild animals, a wide berth.

Brat is easy to identify with his mangled left ear. An injury afflicted during the rut a few years ago.
Many ask how he got his name. When he first arrived, he wasn't the dominant bull on the property. We had another beloved "resident" named Lefty who was a massive bull and ruled the property. Brat played 2nd fiddle for sure and had to get when the getting was good. Brat knew he was bigger than us, so when Lefty would run him off of the bird feeders, Brat would follow Steve around in the golf cart and eat birdseed out of the back of the golf cart. We couldn't shoo him away if we wanted to! Brat must have been on edge when Lefty ruled the roost as he could be quite aggressive with us. There were several time we had to run him off the property with a vehicle.

But over the years, and after Lefty failed to return one year, Brat settled into his role as the dominant bull in the valley. This must have given him a bit of comfort as we really calmed down and made himself at home on the property. He was no longer a nuisance, and became a wonderful addition to our regular wildlife visitors which included Mama (a mule deer who would bring her fawns by every spring), Tippy (a beautiful red fox and her kits), and Shadow (another beautiful mulie).

So here we are. Brat is most likely in his final couple of years with us and the new generation is patiently waiting. Many of you know Sven as well. He is a younger bull just hitting his prime. Massive wide rack, healthy coat, quick and agile steps. While we hope to have Brat around for years to come, we are sure happy to see Sven settling into his role here at the lodge.

If you happen to be in Estes Park, and not staying at McGregor (why in the world would you stay anywhere else ;) be sure to swing by and say hi to our resident elk and one of Estes Park's most famous residents.

Silly ole Brat.