I am exceptionally pleased to announce that Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (VENT) has offered to match up to $2,500 of the donations made between Monday, June 23 and Monday, July 7th. This window spans the midpoint of my journey, and has been selected by VENT and myself as a way to really kickstart the fundraising for the second half of the year. Many people stepped up and made contributions after my last fundraising plea (thank you for that!), so hopefully even more folks can rise to the occasion knowing that the value of any donation will essential be doubled by VENT. Perhaps those that are waiting for a final species count could manage to donate at least a portion of the money for the species I have already found (485 as of today, 6/22). The end of the year is hectic with the holidays and whatnot, and I hope and imagine that folks will be busy with friends and family in late December. If we could capture some of these end of year donations now it would be great! For those new to the blog, I am fundraising on behalf of The Conservation Fund and the American Birding Association. Everything is explained in great detail here.
I am thrilled to announce this partnership on a more personal level as well. I have had a long-standing relationship with VENT not only as a client, but also as close friend of Victor Emanuel and many of his staff. My experience with VENT started in 1991 when I attended Camp Chiricahua in Arizona. It was my first time birding west of the Mississippi, and the first time I met a group of other young birders who were as enthusiastic as myself. It was a fantastic experience, and I am certain it would be similarly great for any young birder you might know. In subsequent years I attended 3 additional VENT camps in Washington, Mexico, and Texas. My mom and I subsequently took a birding/ranching tour of the famous King Ranch in South Texas. Even as a novice birder, my mom had a fantastic time. Victor co-led several of the camps himself, and we have been close friends ever since. We did a good amount of birding together earlier this year at High Island in Texas! VENT runs tour all over the world at all times of the year. Some of these are aimed at hardcore birders, others at general wildlife enthusiasts, and still others towards scholars of history and culture. No matter what your focus, I am sure you can will find a VENT tour that excites you!
As for my adventures today, The original plan was to ride ~60 miles from Salida, CO to Fairplay, CO. The first issue that came up was that I could not find a cheap/free place to stay in Fairplay. The second issue was that my legs were feeling a bit weak after yesterday. Lastly, a couple people have suggested Cottonwood Pass and Mount Yale for Dusky grouse, ptarmigan, and rosy-finch. With all this in mind, I retooled my plan to ride 27 miles north to Buena Vista where I was able to find a place to stay. I thought about doing some local birding this afternoon, but thundershowers and very strong winds crushed this idea. The weather tomorrow is supposed to be much better, and from here I can attempt one of two day trips with the unloaded bike tomorrow. Option A is to climb 1,800' feet over 10 miles to the trailhead and then take an extended and challenging hike up Mt Yale. Option B is to ride right by the trailhead and climb an additional 2,400' feet over another 8 miles to reach the pass below Mt Yale. Each option has pluses and minuses. Option A will let me hike through some really good Dusky grouse habitat, but as a result it will take me longer to get above treeline and reach the ptarmigan/finch zone. I am not sure which option I will exercise yet so stay tuned.
Today's route, just 27 miles