Living – Places: 12

2013 (continued)

A favorite spot on Cony Creek, which is headed down into Wild Basin, where it joins North St. Vrain Creek.

We often enjoy our lunches at this sopt

I love the color of the stones in the crystal clear water in this spot. We haven't been anywhere else where we see the same blend of chestnut brown and golden colored stones.

I always feel so happy when I see this sopt

Looking up Cony Creek towards it source, Cony Lake, a little glacial lake about four miles upstream, just below the Continental Divide.

The creek emerges out of a most beautiful forest

On our way back, we sat for awhile at Finch Lake, one of our favorite hangouts.

Sitting by Finch Lake looking at the surrounding pine forests and the mountains beyond

We enjoyed a hike in a new, for us, area of Rocky Mountain Park today. We started at the Little Horseshoe Park trailhead, crossed Hidden Valley Creek, and headed towards Deer Mountain. Because of the threat of thunderstorms rolling in, we decided to turn back after we had hiked a few miles in; still, we enjoyed some crazy beautiful scenery and an abundance of delicate wildflowers that simply astonished us. Here's a view looking out over Deer Ridge trail towards West Horseshoe Park and Mummy Range beyond.

Looking across an open, grassy expanse, with the trail on the far ridge and the towering mountains beyond

Green Gentian is a crazy plant. It grows for a long time, as much as 50 years, looking like this.

An unimposing plant made up of a dozen or so large green leaves, close to the ground

Then one year, a now quite old Green Gentian bolts, shooting up a tall flower stalk … and then it dies. We were fortunate to see three flowering Green Gentians today, something I've never seen before.

A flower stalk towering up into the air several feet

Closer look at a Green Gentian flower. I wonder which far-away galaxy this originally came from?

The flower stalk is full of small, complex, quite beautiful white flowers with patters of dark green dots on the ends

Yellow Stonecrop

A little bushy plant with clusters of flowers that look a bit like the Gren Gentian flowers, only bright yellow

Fireweed

Such a stately flower

Rock Primrose (maybe?)

Tiny, white, star-shaped flowers

Leafy Cinquefoil

A small pale yellow flower with disc-shaped stamen

Sulphur Buckwheat

Clusters of tiny delicate yellow flowers

Miner's Candle

A tall flower stalk with long, slender, green leaves and lots of tiny white flowers close to the stem

Waterleaf

An ground-hugging plant with unusual, undulating flowerheads

The forest we hiked through today was wet. What a welcome change from last year when everything was dry, dry, dry all summer long. We hiked to an area that burned in the late 1970s. Today it is well along the path to recovery and, because the area is more open than is typical in Rocky Mountain forests, it is full of wildflowers in early summer. Last week I shared a photo of the beautiful fireweed flower. The area we visited today was abundant with them. Apparently this plant appears after a fire and helps bind the soil, and then once the forest has regrown, it disappears.

A couple miles up the trail is one of my favorite views towards the Continental Divide, just south of Mount Meeker. We're heading to the area of the fire scar you can see on the left side of the photo. It's a place where a young forest of mixed conifers and aspens is re-establishing, and where there is an abundance of wildflowers in the spring.

A view over the tops of pines and across Wild Basin to the ridge of mountains beyond

Paintbrush bouquet

A beautiful cluster of pale orange flowers

Paintbrush closeup

Closeup of much deeper orangish red flowerheads

Orange paintbrush. We also saw some that were pale yellow. Garima tells me that it's common for paintbrush (Castilleja) to hybridize.

Bright orange flowerheads

A lupine with all of its leaves pointed towards the early morning sun.

Pale violet flower clusters over big, palmate leaves

Aster and friend

A tiny, pale green bug enjoys the bright yellowish-orange disc flowers inside an aura of pale violet ray flowers

Twinflowers are tiny, smaller than a little fingernail. There were hundreds of them along the trail, almost every one of them hanging down towards the ground except for this little showoff that was pointing up, begging to have its portrait taken.

As I was kneeling trying to get the focus right as the flower swayed in the breeze, a group of four hikers came by. I got up to let them by, and one asked excitedly, "Chipmunk?" Garima replied, "No, a flower," which was greeted with a disappointed, "Oh," as they walked on past. I could only laugh.

A beautiful tiny white flower painted with speckles of rose inside

Yesterday evening, we were treated to a refreshing evening rain shower accompanied by a vivid double rainbow.

One of the most vivid rainbows I've ever seen

It lasted for perhaps 20 minutes as the sun slowly set.

The sky was dark between the two rainbows, lighter on the outside, and much lighter on the inside

Oh, beautiful world! I had to stop on my drive home this evening to savor this.

Backlit clouds over darkened mountains with rays of light streaming overhead from the setting sun

We took a hike to Bierstadt Lake today, but instead of starting at the normal trailhead, we started at Hollowell Park, which promised us a trail that was "less traveled." I can now understand why: 2½ miles of it was like a stair climb! Still, we enjoyed the quietness of the hike though a beautiful forest as well as a couple delights we would've missed if we hadn't taken this trail. The first gift we received was that the sagebrush is in bloom. It's a wind-pollinated flower, so it's … well … sage green in color. The hillside above Hollowell Park was so beautiful.

Hillside painted with pale green sage flowers

Then we got to walk up alongside Mill Creek, which filled the air with a wonderful freshness.

Creek spilling down the hillside of a mixed forest

We saw some Baneberries, which are the most vividly red berries I've ever seen.

A cluster of bright deep red berries

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