Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Meridian Trail

Hike day moved up to Tuesday this week. With warm temperatures, no wind and clear skies in the forecast, I decided to head up to the foothills and try Meridian Trail. Here's the photo recap:

Nice view of Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans from Park County Road 43.

This washout on the road to the trailhead made me hesitate, but since there were other tire tracks I figured it would be all right to drive over. It was.

I was surprised at how many butterflies there were along the entire length of the trail -- little white ones, big orange ones, soaring yellow and black ones, black ones with white spots and a lot of what I think were Boisduval's Blues. Most were pretty uncooperative subjects, but this guy wasn't camera-shy.

The trail started off as a constant and pretty straight uphill alongside Elk Creek. Along with the running water, the sound of hummingbirds also filled the air. Given my challenges just getting pictures of butterflies don't expect to see any hummingbird photos.

The view to the south -- maybe Grouse Mountain and Split Rock on the left, Shawnee Peak on the right?

After the trail turned to the northeast it went through some very thick and very quiet aspen groves. When the wind was still and the birds weren't singing there didn't seem to be any sound at all. You can't even get that in your own home, with the constant hum of electric appliances and the muffled sounds of cars on the nearest road.

Probably the best variety of wildflowers I've seen yet this season, including this Scarlet Paintbrush.

There was a little meadow just off the trail that should have had a "Scenic Overlook" sign pointing to it. I'm guessing that's Crooked Top Mountain on the right.

No matter where you go, it seems there are always ants. I'm not exactly sure what they were trying to do with this piece of wood. Whatever it was, I'll bet they eventually got it done.

The border between aspen grove and coniferous forest was very sharply defined, as if God had put down his light green crayon and picked up a dark green one when he was coloring the landscape from Heaven.

It was nice to see wildflowers that weren't either yellow or white, like these Lanceleaf Chiming Bells.

Black Mountain in the middle distance, I believe.

One more butterfly was kind enough to pose for me -- this Chryxus Arctic.

There was no sign to mark where the trail ended at its intersection with the Cub Creek Trail. Just these two rock cairns.

Three hours up and down. I've clearly lost most of the driving-around-wildlife skills I gained during the seven years we lived in Conifer, nearly hitting a deer on the way out (eight pointer -- could have at least mounted him on my wall) and a squirrel on the way back. But fortunately, no animals were harmed in the writing of this blog.

UPDATE: I sent the two butterfly pics to Mike Fisher, Colorado coordinator for the Butterflies and Moths of North America database. He sent back the following response/clarification on the species:
The blue is a Greenish Blue - Plebejus saepiolus gertschi (=whitmeri Brown) and the arctic is most likely correctly identified. Recently, two sibling species have been recognized which look nearly alike - chryxus and calais. They do not commonly occur in the same location, calais is most often found higher - at or above timberline in excess of 10500 Ft. while chryxus is found most often below that level. Calais (Ka-lay-is) flies in both even and odd year, being perhaps more common in the odd years while chryxus is found only in even years.
Thanks for preserving the scientific accuracy of my blog, Mike!


Kurt said...

Good luck Steve

SteveHarbula said...

Thanks, Kurt. Good luck with what, though?