This Fourth of July holiday, there are no fireworks, but there is plenty of color. The blues, yellow, purples, reds and pinks are eye-popping in their bursts of color as we hike. One particular thatch of chiming-bells along the creek has created a purple haze as far as the eye can see. Colorado is colorful indeed.
“Welcome to Colorful Colorado” is the official tag line of the welcome sign at the state’s border, welcoming visitors to our state. It has a rustic look of wood with white stick style lettering emblazoned across it. Back in 2009, when I worked at Capitol Reef National Park, but came home on weekends to Palisade, Colorado, I got to see that sign a lot. Frequently while passing it, I spotted tourists grabbing a photo as they stopped before entering our colorful state. The sign is so iconic that our state history museum, History Colorado, as it on display. Though I enjoyed my time at Capitol Reef, I found the Colorado sign oddly comforting as I hit the state line.
Today, as Bryon and I hiked up to Rogers Pass in the James Peak Wilderness, the name seemed perfectly fitting for this holiday celebrating our independence. The sky was that deep blue, the deep blue that we seem to get here, so intense because of the thin atmosphere. Lush green enveloped us immediately as we walked along the rushing waters of the creek, a result of our snowy spring.
It isn’t long before other colors start to catch my eye — an exquisite stand of Columbine in the middle of the creek — it’s blue and white perfect architectural flowers tempting me to pause and take a photo. Then the brilliant yellow of golden banner and marsh marigold take over. An occasional splash of pink from elephantella.
Once we ascended to above timberline, the color show didn’t stop with alpine avens creating fields of gold, dotted with the intense purple of sky pilot making an appearance. And the wildflowers were just the preview — coming up to Rogers Pass Lake, the views are knock-your-socks off. Each turn in the trail brings a new breathtaking vista. I am stopping every few feet to capture another photo, knowing all the while the photos won’t do the scenery justice.
For some reason, I want to break out in song — the songs of the Sound of Music. “Climb every mountain” is echoing in my head as we climb ever higher into this wonderland. Ascending steeply towards the pass, every direction brings in more color and vistas, including a view from above looking down at the aptly-named Heart Lake. In fact, the shape reminds me of a perfectly drawn Cupid’s heart — all we need is an arrow running through the middle.
As we finally gain the pass, we get the final climax of our colorful Colorado show. A 360-degree sweeping alpine grand finale of panorama of all the Rocky Mountains have to offer. The town of Winter Park lies down below as snow capped peaks tower in the background. Right up front is James Peak, its square top so clear from this vantage point. And way off in the distance to the east, we can see the plains.
So while there is no big fireworks show tonight in Nederland, I certainly got my fill of color and oohs and aahs.