Aspen Wildflowers (from my recent trip)

Last week I went to Aspen to see my dad and stepmother and to have a mini-family reunion with my siblings and their families. As on other visits, I was struck by how pristinely beautiful the landscape and the wildflowers are there. Plants have such a short growing season at these high elevation but the flowers seem to make up for it by blooming almost all at once. Lilacs, peonies, columbines, roses and all the native flora blossom concurrently in a setting that is so perfect that sometimes it seems faked in a Disney sort of way. I had to remind myself it was real. The surfeit of exercise, lack of oxygen in the air and Mahler's marathon 5th symphony at the Aspen Music Festival don't help to make a visitor's head any clearer. All together, it might be too much for a sensitive species of Pisces.

These photos were taken along two of my favorite hiking places: Maroon and Crater Lakes and the areas around Independence Pass. Thankfully my camera work allowed me to rest along the hiking trail while looking like I wasn't resting.

Above: Hummingbird with Wyoming paintbrush (Castilleja linariifolia), Aspen

Click photos to enlarge

Tiny clumps of blue gentian on top of Independence Pass, elev. 12,000 feet

Roadside flowers, Independence Pass

Snowmelt with cow parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium) and bitter cress (Cardamine cordifolia), Maroon Lake, elev. 9,597 feet

On the way to Independence Pass

Some sort of alpine pea, Independence Pass

The Continental Divide

Scarlet paintbrush, Maroon Lake

A tight clump of alpine mertensia hugs the ground, Independence Pass

Blue Lupines, near the ghost town of Ashcroft

Bumblebee in a green gentian aka monument plant (Frasera speciosa), Maroon Lake

The giant corn lily or false hellebore (Veratrum tenuipetalum), Maroon Lake

Cow parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium)

Meadow of green gentian, or monument plant, (Frasera speciosa), Maroon Lake

Diamondleaf saxifrage (Saxifraga rhomboidea), Independence Pass

It's hard to resist the obligatory aspen trunks shot. It's a favorite of hotel lobbies and restaurant bathrooms all over Aspen

Mystery flower, maybe some sort of blue gilia, Independence Pass

Tundra pools with marsh marigolds (Caltha leptosepala), Independence Pass

Valerian(?) at sunset, Maroon Lake

Subalpine arnica (Arnica mollis), Maroon Lake

Chad at Maroon Lake


Debbie said...

I love Aspen and I've always wanted to go up to Independence Pass. Now I have no excuse

Posey Parker said...

So very lovely, your photos, and such a great pairing of posts - the unnaturalness of gardens and the beauty of nature. Such a contradiction! Love the bumble.......