Living – Places: 21
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
– Dylan Thomas, Do not go gentle into that good night
We revisited Cub Lake today, hiking the loop from the Cub Lake trailhead to the Fern Lake trailhead. This is just the second time we've hiked up around Cub Lake since the area experienced the largest fire in the history of Rocky Mountain National Park during the winter of 2012/2013. While there remains much devastation from the fire, our relatively wet spring and summer has really aided the recovery. The marshy areas are thick with undergrowth, the aspen stands that had burnt are thick with young aspen starts, and even the steep hillsides are beginning to get some undergrowth, though it's much more sparse.
Although it's mid-August, the first hints of autumn were evident on our hike today. There are still many wildflowers in bloom, but there also are many berries ripening and seed heads forming, and even a few leaves starting to turn red on some of the bushes. At that elevation, summer is short, so summertime is compressed.
This stand of Foxtail Barley looked liked shimmering, multi-colored silk in the early morning breeze.
The marshy areas are full of brightly glowing Golden Glow Coneflowers, which are up to 5′ tall and are just beginning to form their seed heads.
Many people don't like Needle and Thread Grass because it's seeds are barbed and burrow into socks, but it's so cool looking!
There are still lots of light violet Asters blooming, and we came across one very brightly lit cluster of near-white Asters. It was a bit like looking at a spotlight.
Right alongside the lake, there isn't much vegetation coming back from the fire yet, so this cluster of Black-Tipped Senecio really lit up the hillside.
We sat for a long time on a rock next to the water watching fingerling trout swimming around in the shallow water and large dragonflies darting about, mating, and laying eggs in the water. I tried to get a photograph of the dragonflies, but they move so fast I only managed to capture blurred images. The Water Sedge next to us was more cooperative, appearing to be growing up above the clouds.
I still find it difficult to look at the totally burnt forest surrounding the lake, especially remembering how beautiful it used to look, so I mostly focused on the Yellow Pondlilies, which are in greater abundance in the lake than I've ever seen before.
Baneberry berries are generally red, but sometimes, oddly, they're white. We saw a lot of bright red clusters sticking up above the surrounding undergrowth. And then we came across these two clusters side by side.
Cow-Parsnip seed head umbels, with Ladybug.
This is the first time I've seen Fireweed in all three stages at once: flowering, forming seed pods, and with some seed pods bursting open to release their fluffy seeds.
We hiked up to one of our favorite lakes today: Finch Lake in Wild Basin.
On the way up, we saw something a bit unusual, a stand of red paintbrush just in front of a stand of creamy white paintbrush.
The red paintbrush.
The white paintbrush.
Just on the other side of the trail was this stand of creamy white paintbrush tinged red. Garima tells me that paintbrush crosses easily, so there are a lot of hybrids.
When we arrived at Finch lake, we walked a short ways along the east side of the lake on a social path and were rewarded with this view of the lake with Copeland Mountain beyond. I think that's Ogalalla Peak on the Continental Divide beyond and to the left of Copeland Mountain.
Then we hiked around the north side of the lake and found a nice boulder jutting out into the water to sit on and enjoy our lunch. This was the view up the shore from where we were sitting.
The light from the mid-August sun was beautiful, almost as if the pine trees across the lake were back lit.
As I took a few more photos across the lake, my attention was drawn to how dramatically the surface of the lake was changing as the breezes played across it. The following images were all taken from my same perch on that shoreline boulder.
Sometimes there were diamonds dancing across much of the surface.
Other times, a few diamonds danced in contrast to dark ripples in between.
At times, the ripples really picked up the blue of the sky above.
And then they would play with a cloud passing by.
Yes, I was mesmerized.
Afternoon thunderstorms have been common this summer, sometimes with gorgeous side effects.