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Above the Guanella Pass Summit

Posted By admin16 On July 29, 2015 @ 10:14 pm In Photography | 1 Comment

Going above a summit may sound like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. That’s where I hiked this morning.

Just as the sun came up, I got to the trailhead at the summit of Guanella Pass [1], which is in Pike National Forest at 11,670 feet above sea level. I arrived at 6 a.m., but the sun didn’t reach the trail where I was until half an hour later, and my thermometer read 35 degrees, and the wind was blowing.

As I set off on the Square Top trail, I climbed gradually, reaching about 12,000 feet where I found a knoll overlooking a valley. Short of breath from the limited oxygen in the air more than two miles above sea level, I stopped, sat down against a welcoming rock, and meditated. I thought that the wind might distract me, but in fact it helped me to stay in the present.

This is a big country where you can see for miles, but all the lifeforms are small. It’s well above treeline, so nothing bigger than willow bushes grow here. The treeline here is about 11,500 feet, so you know that you are looking down in this image that I took from near the trailhead.

Looking East from Guanella Pass Summit [2]

Looking East from Guanella Pass Summit

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The flowers too are generally small, usually clinging to the ground where they aren’t so much at the mercy of the wind. But I saw hundreds if not thousands of this colorful flower below, probably the tallest and certainly the showiest.

Scarlet Paintbrush Grows to 3 Feet Tall [3]

Scarlet Paintbrush Grows to 3 Feet Tall

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Even all the birds and animals that I saw today are small.

A White-Crowned Sparrow Eats [4]

A White-Crowned Sparrow Eats

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This Colorado Chipmunk Jumped Up on the Rock [5]

This Colorado Chipmunk Jumped Up on the Rock

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This is high country that I try to get to every summer. In the winter it can be somewhat chilly.

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[1] Guanella Pass: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/psicc/recreation/recarea/?recid=12946&actid=51

[2] Image: http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/mountains.jpg

[3] Image: http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/paintbrush1.jpg

[4] Image: http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/white-crowned.jpg

[5] Image: http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/chipmunk.jpg

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