There is nothing that quite compares to the crazy display of wildflowers that occurs in the Colorado high country every year during the mid-summer months. The peak usually happens sometime in mid July to early August, so with a week’s vacation to work with this year, I just had to spend a few days worth in the annual quest for wildflower extravaganza.
I have photographed most of the ‘hot spots’ for flowers in Colorado, so this year I wanted to hit a couple of new locations.
The Crested Butte area was looking good, and while I have been there in previous years, I had yet to visit the high basins north of Crested Butte. In my last attempt a couple years back, the road to the high country was blocked by an avalanche. This year, the road was open, so I headed up to Schofield Park, a trailhead ten miles up a dirt road from the Crested Butte ski resort. A sign that recommended 4WD greeted me as I drive my low clearance Ford Focus up the narrow, windy, bumpy road. So much more fun with 2WD! And all those Jeeps coming down the road in the other direction were certainly not getting the wonderful gas mileage that I was! 🙂 At one point, I asked a passing SUV if I was going to make it up the road. I noticed him glance quickly down at my tires, then he said, “If you made it this far, you’ll probably make it the rest of the way.”
I set out on the W Maroon trail, which connects Aspen to Crested Butte via the road I had just come up. The trail quickly entered a series of basins that were just choking with flowers.
After hiking much of the afternoon, I decided to head back to the road for sunset, since I had scouted out some favorable locations on the way up to the trail.
Wildflower panorama from Gothic Road.
Then, as the sun set, I headed back towards Crested Butte to catch the East River in the bright light of the rising full moon. For some reason, this moon seemed bigger and brighter than many I had seen before. It was just a spectacular sight; I can only hope my photo captures some of the magic.
I also consumed some fine brews in town, which was quite hopping for a Sunday night; a great place to meet an odd assortment of outdoor fanatics and artists,
The next day, I headed to Ridgway in the San Juan Mountains, to head up the Blue Lakes trail, one of the more spectacular trails in the state. The last time I hiked it was eight years ago, where I had about 10 pounds less camera gear, and 20 pounds less beer fat. So, I was a bit slower this time. I ended up spending most of the afternoon exploring the meadows above Lower Blue Lake, which is where the flowers seemed to be the most profuse.
I dropped back down to the campground to catch Mount Sneffels as it lit up just before sunset. Magnificent! This shot rounded off my goal of a dozen decent photos for the trip. I’m usually lucky to grab two or three per trip, so I consider it a productive trip overall. Oh, and if you’re ever in Ridgway be sure to stop at the True Grit (yes, we’re talking John Wayne) Cafe and have one of their awesome deserts. I had the blueberry pie this time. A La mode. 🙂