For the past three months until today Caribou Ranch Open Space has been closed to protect migratory birds and elk calving and rearing. Most of the birds and elk seem to have moved on, and I didn’t see any elk today. But millions of wildflowers remain.
I have been hiking here for years and never thought of Caribou Ranch as having lots of wildflowers. My hiking books don’t make a big thing about it either. I think I know why it was different today.
The trails at Caribou Range run from 8,500 to 8,900 feet. Normally, the flower season at this elevation peaks a month or so earlier — when only animal are allowed here. This year the flowers are blooming later.
The trails at Caribou Ranch are an easy 4.5-mile lollipop loop. The trail-bed (what is the technical term for it?) is as excellent as any trail I know. It was easy today. But I remember how hard it was three and four years ago!
While the temperature in Boulder peaked at about 90 degrees today, up in the mountains the day was delightful. A breeze in the morning and clouds in the afternoon kept me cool. In fact, the day conveniently clouded over just as my camera’s battery gave out. By that time I was headed back and had already taken 239 shots — for me a record number in one day.
What wonderful freedom to take all the pictures you want! When I was shooting Kodachrome slides in Africa, each one of the more than 10,000 pictures that I shot cost about a quarter. Now, there’s no cost — except the time to select and label the ones to keep. That just took me as much time as the hike did!
So, without further ado, here are those that I picked for you. Be glad that I’m not sending all 239 pictures.
Here’s the scene:
Here is the biggest animal I saw today:
I seem to love the really small flowers, like the spotted coralroot orchid and the yellow stonecrop:
Some yellow stonecrop flowers seem to grow right out of the stone:
Some yellow stonecrop flowers are green:
Ever since I saw my first paintbrush flower about four years ago, I have loved it. Probably because it’s red, my favorite color:
I probably took 50 pictures of paintbrush today. Here are a couple more:
My niece, Julie, commented that she likes pictures bees and other insects on flowers. So I have started to focus on them:
Then came several flowers that I couldn’t identify: