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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Wild Basin Trail

June 27th, 2008 · No Comments

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If my resistance training instructor hadn’t cancelled the session today, I wouldn’t have made it to the mountains. That was good, because the hike far exceeded my expectations.

But if my instructor would have let me know in advance that there wasn’t a class today, I could have been hiking in the morning. I went anyway, although I didn’t get to the trailhead at the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park until after 1.

Generally, it’s not a good idea to get to the mountains so late on a summer day. If it doesn’t rain in the afternoon, it is usually overcast. In fact, that was the weather prediction.

But it looked clear when I set out. Amazingly, the afternoon had only patchy clouds, which kindly evaporated every time I wanted to take a picture.

I hiked about 5 1/2 miles (roundtrip) to Ouzel Falls:

Ouzel Falls (Named for the Water Bird)

Ouzel Falls (Named for the Water Bird)

This was my fourth or fifth hike to Wild Basin, one of the most beautiful areas of the Rockies. The trail is often within sight and almost always within the sound of North St. Vrain Creek, which is especially high right now. Today was extraordinarily sweet, partly because the weather was so perfect — much better than the 85 degree weather that Boulder suffered through.

As usual, I hunted wildflowers. Strangely, almost all the flowers that I saw today were yellow. And at least half of them were Golden Banners, like these surrounding Indian Paintbrushes:

Golden Banners Surround Indian Paintbrush

Golden Banners Surround Indian Paintbrush

This yellow flower is as beautiful, but not quite so common:

Heartleaf Arnica

Heartleaf Arnica

But my greatest find — and most superb happiness — came last. I finally saw and photographed the rarest orchid growing in the Rocky Mountains, the Spotted Coralroot orchid (Corallorhiza maculata). For months I have been searching in vain for this flower — and when I finally came to where a few were growing in the forest, I almost stepped on one.

Since this orchid grows in dark places, I didn’t even hope that they would be in the sun. But the late afternoon rays were just touching them as I lay down in the duft to take these shots:

Three Spotted Coralroot Orchids

Three Spotted Coralroot Orchids

A Sunny Spotted Coralroot

A Sunny Spotted Coralroot

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