I’ve been complaining about this on Twitter but it’s a real problem: getting an alpine start when you work until 11pm and then you’re wired and can’t sleep is next to impossible. I’d had some ideas about bigger peaks in the Sneffles range and elsewhere along Red Mountain Pass but ultimately settled on a pair of 12ers above Brooklyn Road because I could leave the house at 7:30 and have plenty of time.
Things went according to plan until I wound up behind a herd of sheep being driven up onto a chunk of private land around Red Mountain 3. I sat stopped for a bit while the herders seemed to be taking a mid morning break. Since none of them signaled to me or said anything, I put Ruth in 4-low and just started creeping through the herd. It seemed to work.
Finally, reaching US Basin, I started a pretty direct ascent up the western slopes of McMillan Peak. Sprocket was delighted to find some snow on its flanks and before long we’d reached the 12,804′ peak.
I ran down the slopes of McMillan while Sprocket frolicked his way along.
It wasn’t long before we reached the Ohio Peak-McMillan Saddle where some old mining remains were.
It was sunny and gorgeous and the mountains were making me smile so we took a little break to lay down in the alpine grass.
Or I did, anyway. Sprocket seemed to want to move on. We made out way to the summit of Ohio Peak, 12,673′, where I briefly considered continuing on to another 12er, Anvil Peak but decided against it worrying about the endurance of the SP. We made our way back to US Basin along the ridge and then descended through the most beautiful wildflower bloom I’ve ever seen back to the road.
Pasqueflower (or Cutleaf Anemone)
Pulsatilla patens ssp. multifida
While Sprocket and I were out hiking Ouray’s Perimeter Trail last weekend, I noticed a wildflower. It was only the first weekend of April so I was totally surprised that there were already flowers popping up through the snow! As it turns out, when I did, muddy snowmelt areas are precisely where you’d expect to find the pasqueflower.
These flowers are such pale purple they’re almost white. Their little petals are really delicate and the stems are almost fuzzy. They’re scattered all over the hillside where I found them!
Just a few days later, I also found them on the Thunder Trails near Norwood! They were everywhere!
I have been meaning to learn more about native plants in the San Juans and the Colorado Plateau for YEARS. In order to help me learn, I’m shooting for a weekly plant of sorts like I used to do with the Cactus of The Week feature. Writing the Cactus of the Week really helped to me learn those cacti and I’m hoping for the same to happen here!
“Some may wonder why I chose wildflowers when there are hunger and unemployment and the big bomb in the world. Well, I, for one, think we will survive, and I hope that along the way we can keep alive our experience with the flowering earth. For the bounty of nature is also one of the deep needs of man.”
–Lady Bird Johnson
Sprocket is really bearing the brunt of me working a ton of hours so when I got off at 6pm one evening last week, we headed up County Road 9 to take a short hike on the Dallas Trail.
From the minute we pulled into Box Factory Park, this cheesy grin stuck itself to my face and didn’t go away for a long time. The air smelled absolutely amazing, the rain seemed to be holding off behind the Sneffels Range, and the wildflowers are out in force.
Sprocket loves our hiking runs where he sniffs his way up slopes and careens down the hills with his ears and tail whipping all over the place.
I think the two of us definitely needed that decompression time. I’m going to make a lot bigger effort to take advantage of all the hikes that are so close to me during these precious chunks of time.
To top it all off, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset on our way back to town:
After work last Wednesday I just needed to get out and do something real. As soon as I got home, I changed, loaded Sprocket into the Jeep and headed out to explore along County Road 9.
It was a little blustery but after a long stretch of dreary weather, it was great to be outside.
I was able to drive almost to the end of the road. I decided not to drive through a giant mud puddle mostly because I didn’t want to wash the Jeep. But seriously, Francis looks at home here doesn’t she?:
Summer in the mountains features waves of wildflowers. On our hike on Brown Mountain we saw so many beautifully colored ones that it (almost) distracted me from the big views in the distance!
Even the pine cones got in on being colorful!