Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yesterday's Hike: Tundra Flowers on the Ute Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hiking trail we traveled was named after the Ute tribe of Native Americans, which used this trail as a mountain pass. "The Ute and Arapahoe Indians walked this ridge in moccasins while journeying between their summer and winter hunting grounds."

This was the trail as it appeared today. We traveled approximately four miles of the trail, out and back, to observe July's end blooming tundra flowers. The temperatures were perfect, in the low 60's F.

Tundra wild flowers #1. Tundra flowers are less than six inches tall. Their low height conserves energy and water while soaking up the sun and avoiding wind during their extremely short growing season.

Tundra wild flowers #2. We saw and heard a marmot, ground squirrel, chipmunk, eagle, and ravens on this hike.

Tundra wild flowers #3. There are many mosses and lichens and moss-like plants growing on the tundra. We saw a few mushrooms, too.

This is a yellow potentilla in miniature form which hugs the ground.

There were many of these white butterflies. In addition, there were other butterfly types, flies, a small bumble bee, and small grasshoppers.

This was a lucky find. Observable from Trail Ridge Road was this group of elk, cooling themselves in the snow at 12,000 feet.

Here's a Trail Ridge Road photo showing lots of snow in the background. Due to snow, this road doesn't open until June some years such as this one. I'm grateful to live within an hour of this national park and for the car and tank of gas that got us there. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful outing!