into the rarified air

June 09, 2024  •  6 Comments

With high temperatures predicted in the mid-90s, it seemed like the perfect time to head to the mountains and inhale that rarified air one encounters at 10 to 11,400 feet in elevation.  Although we have walked the Aspen Vista trail/service road for the Santa Fe Ski Basin a number of times during the years since returning to Santa Fe, we had not gone all the way to the open rocky area for some time.  With crystal clear blue skies and not a cloud around, thunderstorms and lightning were not a problem.  Definitely a good time to put in a few more miles than normal.  It was definitely worth it.  Below is a photograph of one of the rock outcroppings, northeast of which are the radio towers and the top of the ski area.   You can see patches of snow in the right middle of the photograph.  Although there were lots of puddles on the trail, we did not walk through snow or mud.   There were, however, still some large patches of snow along the sides of the trail above 11,000 feet.

Aspen Vista/Santa Fe Ski Area road rock pileAspen Vista/Santa Fe Ski Area road rock pile

We were unaware of a companion in the rocks until it appeared as we were resting and enjoying the view.  Affectionately known as a GMGS, this golden mantled ground squirrel had grown up on snacks from hikers.  Had it been able to speak human, it would have asked us what was on the menu.  Regardless, its request was pretty obvious.

Animals - golden mantled ground squirrel 1 2024Animals - golden mantled ground squirrel 1 2024
 

Animals - golden mantled ground squirrel 2 2024Animals - golden mantled ground squirrel 2 2024

Animals - golden mantled ground squirrel 3 2024Animals - golden mantled ground squirrel 3 2024
 

 

Along the road were a number of late spring/early summer flowers.  There is going to be a bumper crop of wild strawberries this year.  I had not noticed walking on the way up that distributed within their numbers were also Canadian violets.  The retina-burning brightness of the white at high altitude is stunning, not to mention the clarity of the flower's center.  Almost like an eyelash winking at you.

Flowers - Canadian white violet 1 2024Flowers - Canadian white violet 1 2024 Flowers - Canadian white violet 2 2024Flowers - Canadian white violet 2 2024

 

Mountain parsley is scattered along the road...

Flowers - mountain parsley 2024Flowers - mountain parsley 2024

 

as is the western wallflower, on which painted lady butterflies (I trust you will correct me if that is wrong, Clyde) were feasting.

Butterflies - Painted Lady on western wallflower 1 2024Butterflies - Painted Lady on western wallflower 1 2024

 

 

This painted lady was working on a dandelion.
Butterflies - Painted Lady on western wall flower 2 2024Butterflies - Painted Lady on western wall flower 2 2024

 

 

Because of the lack of wind, dandelions that had gone to seed were perfect in shape and detail.

Flowers - dandelion seed head 1 2024Flowers - dandelion seed head 1 2024

 

Finally, the early afternoon light was playing on a scarlet paintbrush in the shade of aspens.

Flowers - scarlet paintbrush 1 2024Flowers - scarlet paintbrush 1 2024   

 

Thanks to Jean & Sam, Marilyn G., TTT, Steve, Catherine, and Ingrid for commenting on the blog site this week, and to others who comment via email, text, phone, or in person.  It is always good to hear from you.  I hope you have an excellent week of photography and exploration!

until next Monday,

DB

  a passion for the image©   


Comments

TTT(non-registered)
visceral visuals bonanza! so glad you could click, click, click
Louise Watkins(non-registered)
These are so beautiful!!
Such amazing pictures
Steve Immel(non-registered)
Good to see the fauna among the flora in this post, Daryl. The squirrels are charming, clever and ready for a treat. At high altitudes I find myself hunting for the more elusive pika hiding in the rocks. We see them near Williams Lake above the Taos Ski Valley. The "retina-burning brightness" draws me into the yolk and brush strokes or eyelashes of the Canadian violet. Between the violets, dandelions. mountain parsley, squirrels and butterflies' you've taken us on a lovely tour of the southern Rockies in summer.

66 today. 90 tomorrow. Stay cool.
Sara Woodburn(non-registered)
What would I do without your weekly photo windows of our old home grounds? Thank you!!
Pauli(non-registered)
The Sacramento Valley here has been hazy and pale blue for weeks now - so grateful to see a perfectly blue sky even if it's in New Mexico. Thanks for all the colorful alpine flowers, too - always a welcome sight.
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