A little while back it occurred to me that, with the record-smashing warm weather Colorado has been seeing lately, the wildflowers are probably getting their bloom on early. I thus decided a perfect way to celebrate May Day would be to hit up a trail that usually sees its blooms in mid-to-late May, camera in tow, and test my hypothesis.
I was not wrong.
Wildflower season in the Rockies is a staggered thing- it tends to be short lived, and changes by altitude (and, of course, by available moisture). The foothills kick things off in late May or early June, whereas higher altitudes probably won’t see blooms until July. In other words, if you want to catch some gorgeous flowering, keep an eye on your calendar and your map.
I haven’t done a lot of hiking the past few years; since that Africa trip I tend towards hip pain, and night shift has left me a bit discombobulated as far as getting out of my apartment goes. This little meandering was a welcome respite, and well worth whatever aches followed.
The trail is a varied one, dipping in and out of forests and meadows. There are rattlesnake warning signs everywhere. At one point I wandered in the cool shade of the trees and came upon a few rain-specked puddles teeming with tiny, flitting periwinkle butterflies. I didn’t notice the butterflies at first- they had landed in the middle of the trail in a cluster of ten or so, and their folded wings blended well with the bracken. When I stepped towards them they exploded silently around my feet, in every imaginable direction.
And the flowers were everywhere, in endless variety.
Now that it’s warming up, I’ve made it a goal to do at least one large outdoor activity -a bike ride, a hike, etc- per weekend. I forget, in the winter, just how much the warm sun means to me.
If you look real close in the above picture, there’s a hummingbird on the branch. Hummingbirds are hard to sight until you learn to distinguish their trill from the song of other birds, and the buzz and clicks of insects. Then you just follow your ears.
Here’s to sunshine, to butterflies, to the end of winter, and most of all to the transient beauty of mountain wildflowers.