Today’s weather is perfectly cloudless and still. And the morning was cool when I left for the mountains at 8.
Maybe I should have given priority to the article that’s due today and I have yet to write. But instead I gave priority to where my heart and soul called. I’m glad I did.
I didn’t go far. I drove up Boulder Canyon to the mountain town of Nederland, nestled between Barker Reservoir and the Indian Peaks at 8,200 feet.
My destination was the Jenny Creek Trail in Roosevelt National Forest. It starts at 9,200 feet just south of Eldora Ski Resort, only 24 miles from my apartment in Boulder. Of course, the ski season is over, but the flower season continues, and I was well rewarded.
On the way up the trail this morning I stopped for a snack of sardines in a flower-rich meadow next to Jenny Creek.
Then I walked on. Until I came to what looked like an impassible side creek. I was just appreciating my waterproof boots, because there was lots of water on the trail from the heavy runoff of this winter’s snowfall.
When I stopped and looked around for a way to cross the creek and was about to turn back, along came a backpacker down the trial. I asked he where he found a place to cross, and he showed me. The backpacker, Mark, is also an avid hiker, photographer, and Boulder resident, as I learned as we chatted for a while.
But shortly after our encounter as I walked on up Jenny Creek Trail and came to an even more difficult crossing. Mark had made it through somehow, but I had gone far enough. In fact, my hike took six hours on the trail today.
On the way back I stopped for lunch (an organic chicken leg) at exactly the same place where I had stopped for a snack a couple of hours earlier. And there, just three or four feet directly in front of me, I saw these two beautiful baby yellow stonecrop flowers.
My only excuse for missing them the first time is that they are small. The taller of these succulent flowers is only 4 or 5 inches high.
For such a little flower I needed to get in close with a sharp focus. Fortunately, my friend Barry gave me a mini-tripod yesterday at my diabetes support group meeting. The mini-tripod weighs less than 2 ounces, compared the almost 4 pounds that my regular tripod weighs.
But since both the flowers and the tripod that Barry gave me are less than 5 inches high, in order to get this shot I had to lay flat on the ground and use the self-timer on the camera. It was worth the effort.
I also saw and photographed a spotted coralroot orchid today, although at this elevation none of those that I saw were in bloom yet. Now that I know what they look like, after seeing them for the first time on Friday at Wild Basin, I guess they aren’t so rare after all!
Again I had to lay flat on the ground to use the mini-tripod that Barry just gave me to capture a photograph of this stalk, which is only about 8 inches high.
The other two shots worth keeping weren’t so demanding. This butterfly (or moth) conveniently stayed on the heart-leaf arnica for several exposures.
Finally, I found these bright shooting stars in an otherwise dark glade.
I just don’t know which of these flowers is the most beautiful. But it doesn’t matter.