Rocky Mountain Wildflowers – Continuing the climb through the subalpine forests of Mt. Evans
Today’s post will not have as much text to wade through. I will just let the beauty of the flowers speak for themselves! As “They” say, a picture is worth 1,000 words! Enjoy.
My first conscious contact with Fireweed was during my 2016 Alaska journey, and I fell in love with this delicate flower! Now that I know what it is, I see it everywhere, as well as in earlier photographs. Its common name, Fireweed, was given because it is one of the first plants to come up after fire has swept an area (it doesn’t tolerate being crowded by other plants). Therefore, it was quite visible in my post-Yellowstone-forest-fire photos! But now I also see it along many Colorado roadsides, as well as in other states.
Fireweed is a plant that seems to flower in reverse order, starting from the bottom up! As the summer progresses, the opening blossoms work their way up the stalk. When, one-by-one, the spent blossoms fall off, the stems from previous blossoms turn a rusty color, which adds a whole new color dimension to the plant in late summer and fall.
Alaskans have a saying that summer has started when the blossoms lowest on the stem bloom. And that summer’s end is in sight when the blossoms reach the top of the stalk. We heard a great poem about this while we were in Alaska, but I did not write it down at the time, and now cannot seem to locate it online. :>(
(Hmmm, :>) good reason to have to go back up there???)
Here are the last of the subalpine flowers in mixed groups. Enjoy!
Monarchs of the Subalpine Forests and Meadows
Ok, that brings the subalpine wildflowers to a close, But there are a couple more photos I want to share with you, because this creature tends to stay down below the treeline in the subalpine areas most of the year, but in summer, will often venture higher to graze and rest in the upper meadows above treeline. I’m talking about the Rocky Mountain Elk. This creature, while a fairly common sight within Rocky Mountain National Park where they are protected, is usually harder to find in places like Mt. Evans. (Though Mt. Evans has other delights all its own!) During our 3-day stint on Mt. Evans, I only saw this herd only once, but they were so far away that I had to stop and look hard to verify they were actually there! These photos should give you an idea of what I mean…
Still, there is always the possibility you might see one closer on your visit. I had an experience on my first visit to Mt. Evans, within a mile of the kiosk at the base. A truly magnificent mature bull elk- huge antlers, muscles like I had never seen before in all my travels, came crashing down the hillside to our left, ran directly across the road in front of us, and never missing a beat continued right on down through the trees on our right. There was no time for a photo, no way to document it. But what I found so amazing was that, as I gazed into the forest as we passed, the trees were so close together, I still have no idea how he was able to fit between them with the size of his rack, let alone at full speed! This is a memory that will stay with me forever!
So just for fun, enjoy a few close-up elk photos, all from Rocky Mountain National Park!
In the next post, we will move above treeline to explore the alpine plants and wildflowers, which provide sustenance for all the insects and mammals that call this place home.
(Then stay tuned, because after that, we will get into the fun critters that live their lives at the top of the world, starting with the Mountain Goat!)