I remember this view from the large picture windows of the cabin at Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. This is a watercolor of the view, I would like to get this during the golden hour of light which is when the sun is setting. The colors are always best then. I can still close my eyes and see that Mule Deer Buck coming over the hill one evening and then crossing the road and angling off to the west. We use to go on evening walks up to the top of this little hill (though it was not that little when you are five years old). I use to collect small quartz rocks during these walks.
Most of the lakes at Red Feathers are private. You must be a landowner and be a member of the association to fish most of the lakes. Dowdy Lake is the public access lake and it has a camp ground. It has been one of our go to places since we ended up selling the cabin in 1973. I have been back to the area multiple times, to include for a search for a lost boy, during my high school days. Dowdy is a pretty lake with good views of the area and great rocky shorelines and ponderosa pines along the shore.
This is a watercolor of a Brown trout and a Rainbow trout caught in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. The Rainbow is my wife's first trout caught a couple of years ago on a trip to see the old stopping grounds.
This is a watercolor of Snake Lake. It was always the landmark for the end of the drive to the cabin. I always was confused by this lake's name. I was really young but my mom saw a snake at West Lake and she is very scared of them so everyone and the fish knew their was a snake there. I then always associated that lake with snakes and thought it should have been named after them. We never saw snakes at Snake Lake.
Evenings in the Cabin at Red Feather Lakes, where usually pretty quiet for me as I was pretty young. We would fry up the fish with canned potatoes. Dad would be drinking Coors, me a bottle or Kool Aid. I remember my parents playing cribbage as I drifted off to sleep. The late night run to the outhouse was always interesting and fragrant. Mornings would be the lighting of the wood burning stove followed by the eggs, bacon, and OJ.
Dead Man's Hill Fire Tower was a diversion we would go and drive to to take a break from fishing. I do remember we tried to drive up there one time after an early snow. Bad idea, we got stuck in the Cougar and so did a Mustang. I remember getting the Cougar pushed out of a snow bank and beating a hasty retreat to lower elevations back by the cabin.
In the continuing story of childhood memories, Shagwa Lake is a pretty small lake with great sunsets and pretty good fishing. The earthen dam on the left side of the watercolor is where we would fish and I remember this lake as being heavily populated with Bullfrogs and their deep chorus.
Rainbow Trout were the fish we usually caught while fishing at Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. They were so numerous, I can remember the few times we did not catch them and caught Brown or Brook Trout. I did not even know there were any other fish like Bass or pike till I was much older.
This is a watercolor of my first fish, which was a crawdad. I caught this on my first pole with my first reel, he fought pretty hard. He was a definite catch and release. We would see a lot of these babies in the lakes. It was not until later I ate some in New Orleans, Louisiana, if only we knew, they would have been in trouble.
Hiawatha Lake is just to the west of the Hilltop Store featured in yesterday's post. I remember this lake for our two fishing spots. This one is where I caught my first fish, a Rainbow Trout and trying to get my feet wet while wearing my Wellington boots. I use to like how the rubber would get darker when wet.
There are not a lot of businesses in Red Feather Lakes, but the one I remember going back to longest is the Hilltop Store. One of the first things we would do when we went to the cabin was make the trip to town to the well to fill the milk jugs for the cistern and we would go to the store for whatever supplies we had forgotten. We would probably get the fishing gossip of what was working and at what lake. I know it has been there for at least 48 years and will probably continue on for a long time to come. It is also where my grandmother and I found the notecards which identified the Indian Paintbrush wild flowers.
If you travel yourself to Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, this is the picturesque lake below the town. My watercolor does not really do it justice. I don't remember fishing this lake a lot, but as referenced below the piece, I fished it on the Fourth of July in 1970. I was with my one set of cousins and we were fishing the kid's fishing derby. I know my cousin, Troy Willis was with me and we both caught fish, Rainbow Trout. Somewhere in the excitement my mom caught a fish hook in the thumb. She got to drive 25 miles to the Boy Scout Camp to find a doctor to get it removed. It is part of Family Legend.
I think it was Valentine's day 1968, my mom got us our first pet dog. His name was Little Bear and he was a Norwegian Elkhound. He was pretty wild and unruly as the Husky type breeds can be. He loves the mountains and going to the cabin. He would come in the cabin and he would spend some time in the yard on a chain between going to the lakes to fish. He definitely cut down on the deer sitings. He also provided me with one of this vivid childhood memories, as he pooped in the backseat of the Cougar while we were going up Interstate-25 at 55 miles per hour in the near the University Blvd exit in Denver. Him, me, and the poop, it makes that back seat pretty small.
After the chipmunk, the most common animal I would see on the way to and from Red Feather Lakes Colorado was the Mule Deer. I was fascinated with them and would always scan for them along the dirt roads, the hill sides and in the meadows. I even remember faking sleeping in the backseat of the car on a drive back down to Denver. My parents weren't sure if I was asleep, so my Mom called out she had seen a deer. Busted, I bolted upright and started looking for the deer.
Some of the small things I remember from my childhood going to and from Red Feather Lakes, Colorado are some of my first animals and my first flowers. The chipmunks use to run across the road and also would beg for food or nuts at rest stops on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park and sometimes when we were fishing. The Indian Paintbrush was my first wildflower, I remember my Grandmother, Joan Jenkins and I admiring the beautiful red flowers and her wondering what type of flower it was. We found out later when we went to the town store and they had postcards and notecards with the Indian Paintbrush flowers proudly displayed. We then knew what the flower was which had peaked our interest and I never forgot it.
The Mummy Range is south of Red Feather Lakes and was part of the last long view you could see before the turn off to our Cabin. The cabin was a small one room cabin with electricity, a cistern for water, a wood burning stove for heat and cooking, and an outhouse out back. I use to love climbing on all the rocks outside. They were large when I was little, now they are barely knee high but, that is the experience of youth and getting older. Everything shrinks. My Dad's co-worker, Ruby Weiss told him about the cabin and thats how we became acquainted with Red Feather Lakes.
After turning off the paved road at Livermore, Colorado the drive to Red Feather Lakes gets interesting. The dirt road always made for an adventure. The junkyards, oil derricks, animal farms and other signs of civilization dropped away. The scenery became more and more about nature. Ranches, farms, and cabins were the only manmade scenes. The mountains, hills, and ridges get more impressive as the drive progressed. I always was scanning for wildlife since you never knew when the Mule Deer, Antelope, rabbit or Elk would appear around the corner. In 1968 my parents purchased a Mercury Cougar and it replaced the Corvair as the vehicle to escape to the mountains into for the next few years.
Continuing on the drive to Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, we would continue north out of Ft. Collins and would thread our way through the foothills. After Ted's Place we would pass through Owl Canyon which was a small break in the hogbacks which stretch along the front range of the Rockies from Cheyenne to Colorado Springs. Owl Canyon is special since we same a herd of 20 Mule Deer crossing the road early one morning. The drive would continue to Livermore where the road would quickly turn to a dirt road. Now it is paved but not 40 years ago, when I learned a term to describe the dirt rad which was "Washboard" or what it felt you were driving across as your teeth rattled and the car would swish around in the dirt.
After leaving Johnson's Corner Truck start we would continue on our way to Red Feather Lakes. We would continue up I-25 to Ft. Collins, Colorado. I think we would pass through everything interesting thing, Rail yards, Airports, pig farms, oil derricks, junk yards, and the foothills. As we left Ft.Collins and drove through the front range Hog Back ridges we would come to a Ted's Place a landmark near the road up to the Cache La Poudre Canyon. Ted's Place is now torn down but their is a road side park and monument to the place. I don't remember stopping there, but I must have seen it 25 times if not a hundred.
We use to drive up to the mountains in a 1964 Chevrolet Corvair. It was a fun car and I would see a lot of the world from its back seat. I remember the drive pretty well and it was a rich visual feast. I could see and check things off as we drove north through Denver on I-25. It was a voyage of buses, trains, nature, animals, motorcycles, i.e. all the things little boys love. We would usually stop at Johnson's Corner for gas and fuel for our souls/stomachs.
As a child some of my earliest memories, where family trips to a cabin in northern Colorado, to Red Feather Lakes. I did a series of artwork to capture those times. I gave this sketchbook to my Dad, Richard Brandt. He raised me as his own and I a forever happy about that; and used it as an example in my own life. He was a long time fisherman and trekker of the Rocky Mountains. I will post the series of artwork and add some background. Most of the artwork was done in marker, pencil, watercolor, ink and ink washes.
This is a watercolor study I did to practice watercolor technique in the style of Oriental artists. I also used my own design of a "chop." It is an intertwined Ss and a superimposed A, i.e. my initials.
I did this pencil sketch of my Grandmother's Gerbil many years back. She use to allow it out of its cage and it would rome around on her large sewing table while she was cutting her fabric before sewing it in to clothing. I think his name was "Bertie." He was a sweet little thing which made her Grandma very happy.
This is a piece of watercolor artwork I did when I was 11 years old. It is an example of why you need to protect your artwork from the effects of sunlight. I gave this to my Grandmother as a present and she hung it on the wall in her bedroom. I don't think it received a large amount of sunlight but when it was framed it had an oval matte to fix my compositional problems. You can see the effects of 30 plus years hanging in her house exposed and then you can compare it to the parts of the picture which where covered by the matte. Even the most light fast or resistant paint will fade in sunlight. This is fairly standard on any artwork and is why you should spend the money for a quality frame and ultra-violet resistant glass, which was not available in 1977. These will help along with hanging your Artwork in a protected area away from direct sunlight.