Colorado Travel DiaryBlacktail-Creek (70908 bytes)

16 July 2003

July usually brings sweltering 100 F days to Oklahoma, however there is a solution:   road trip.  A long day's drive takes me to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  Aspen glades and cool mountain air are bound to cure the summer doldrums.
    It's been a long time since grad school days in Fort Colllins, but Coloradoans still look the same to me:  tanned, broad-shouldered, with coarse rugged features.  And those are the women. 



Sky-Pilot (43364 bytes)


While I was away the state seems to have filled up with condo-living, SUV-driving Outsiders, but the majesty of the mountains is unchanged.  At 12,000-ft Independence Pass, everyone admires a herd of elk grazing on a distant ridge, but few pause to admire Sky Pilot (Polemonium viscosum) near the trail, growing alongside Cinquefoil, American Bistort, Moss Campion and Rosecrown, just to name a few.  At this time of year even the highest peaks are covered with wildflowers, so one has the best of both worlds - cool bracing air and a great floral display.





Mariposa Lily (69665 bytes)18 July 2003

I'm camping high in the mountains, but I really don't want to say where.  The reason is that all around is a large population of Mariposa Lily, Calochortus gunnisoni, to me the most beautiful of Rocky Mountain flowers.  Sorry, Blue Columbine, you're colorful, but nothing compares with the stately beauty of not just one or two, but dozens of Calochortus spread across an aspen grove.   Like all lilies it grows from a bulb, which of course can be dug up by collectors. For this reason I'll never tell where they are. May they thrive and be here for our grandkids to admire. 




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