When I hiked the Ceran St. Vrain Trail on May 20, I didn’t see a single wildflower in the first two miles and only a few along the third mile of the hike. I was too early for the flowers that bloom here in late spring.
Today my timing was right. I took 134 pictures, mostly of wildflowers. I don’t remember ever taking so many in one day.
I came back mostly in hopes of seeing the beautiful fairy slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa). This spectacular — and endangered — orchid grows in the moist, shady evergreen forest of the Rocky Mountain foothills like along the trail I hiked today.
I found four fairy slippers, including these two:
Along the trail I found some other beautiful flowers:
My secondary reason for returning so soon to this trail was to hike to — and perhaps climb — Miller Rock. This outcropping is 100 feet above the surrounding area and offers 360 degree views, including Longs and other Rocky Mountain peaks. When I was here three weeks ago I hiked almost all the way to Miller Rock, but had to turn back short of my destination in order to keep an appointment.
Nothing hindered me today. I took five hours to make the 6.5 mile roundtrip hike, getting back in good time for dinner.
Nothing hindered me except the sheer pitch of Miller Rock. It was utterly impossible for me to go up a couple of pitches by climbing normally. Finally, I left my pack on the trail and scooted up backwards. While it wasn’t the most elegant way to climb, it worked and was great fun — a challenge well met.
This is the rock I climbed:
I climbed all the way to the top of Miller Rock. But this view a few feet from the top was the most interesting:
I needed to hike today because I missed a day on the trail yesterday while traveling back from California. Weather permitting — and it certainly did permit today — I try not to go more than a day without some strenuous exercise.