Wildflower Walk

wildflowers, Capitol Peak
Wildflower Walk : Prints Available

Our path to Silver Creek Pass leads through a verdant green alpine meadow of blooming Indian paintbrush and cinquefoil wildflowers. The pass is the patch of snow in the low point between the mountains (a 1,500′ climb), where a staggering view of (14,130′) Capitol Peak awaits.

The pass ahead is a window to a new world, one of the great gifts of exploring on foot. We ascended 1,500′ to a low point on the flank of Meadow Mountain, where Capitol Peak shone in afternoon light while clouds swirled ominously around the basin. Runoff from both sides of the pass feed the Crystal River, a tributary of the mighty Colorado. Snowfall from the spring monsoon is finally melting off, opening the mountains for a few short months of exploration, before the cycle of seasons starts anew. The brilliant green tundra and blooming wildflowers are almost an illusion, a fleeting moment of alpine rhythm.

Capitol-storm-II

Spotlight on Capitol Peak (14,130′) as a storm builds in the Elk Mountains. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, Colorado

Summer Transition at 13,000′

Quandary Peak, Lenawee Mountain
Loveland Pass Sunset : Prints Available

As the setting sun dipped below a drifting storm cloud, the high tundra and 13,000 foot giants of the Front Range and Tenmile Range are painted in cinammon light. Lenawee Mountain (13,205′) is on the left top of the frame and distant Quandary Peak (14,265′), in the Tenmile Range, is on the upper right side. This image was made from Point 12,915′ above Loveland Pass and there are two climber’s tents perched on the ridge, just before it falls off. 

Just a week after the last post, we spent an evening at 13,000 feet on the high ridge that towers over Loveland past on the east side. We trekked to Mount Sniktau (13,234′) for the first time and hoped for golden light to break beneath a thick cloud bank, lingering after a passing storm. With temps hovering in the 50s, the sun dipped and the landscape took on a new glow, with forms and layers of mountains in all directions. A small group of climbers set up tents on the edge of the ridgeline, later telling us of their plan to climb Grizzly Peak and two fourteener’s – Torreys and Grays the next day. Camping close to 13k is often a very bad idea, but not on this evening. I liked this image best for the snowfield clinging to the ridgeline, and together with our trail, leading the eye to an unending vista of the Rocky Mountains at sunset. It seems winter will depart at last.