Rau: Take a minute to look around on your hike
Grand County Trails
Hiking or biking the Valley trails can be pure eye candy at this time of year! The late snows have left lots of moisture in the ground and the lower Fraser Valley flowers, trees and shrubs are showing their pleasure. The waves of full fields glowing in the sun of purple one-sided penstemon are soothing to the eyes. Like a carpet, the purple lupine fills the meadows and the hillside behind my house. You sometimes see the tall red trumpet shapes of the Scarlet Gila or the just now emerging stalks of the red Indian Paintbrush. I even see white Indian paintbrush if I look carefully. The columbines vary in their delicate colors and love the meadows or somewhat shaded areas, particularly on the lower hillsides of Nine Mile Mountain at the Snow Mountain Ranch.
I spend more time as a journey hiker, taking pictures along the way or just staring at the scenery enjoying the journey, in contrast to the destination hiker, who gets to the destination at all cost. What amazes me are how tall the stalks of buckwheat are from their low bed of leaves. And the normal buckwheat or off-white color varies to a soft pink which turns to more of a chocolate in the fall. The wild mountain roses are growing everywhere spreading to fill your shaded yard. The yellow mustard and sweet clover provides a wonderful yellow tinge in every field or by the roadside.
The daffodils, which are poisonous to deer, have come and gone and Tim’s garden is now bursting with cheerful Shasta daisies that look similar to the familiar roadside daisy but have larger and more robust blooms, usually only one per stalk. Shasta daisies tend to bloom in clumps from 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. They bear all-white daisy petals, yellow disk florets, and contrasting glossy, dark green leaves. This is in contrast to the Oxeye Daisies which are considered a noxious weed and are single flowerheads at the ends of stems having brown-edged, green bracts at their base. Each ‘daisy’ is a cluster of many flowers, the ray flowers are white and look like petals. The disk flowers are small and yellow and make up the center.
Even though beautiful right now, Locoweed is the most wide-spread poisonous plant problem to livestock in the Western United States. It occurs as both white and purple in many locations but the Colorado locoweed is bright pink. It is relatively palatable to livestock and individual animals will seek it out. Checking it out on the web, Locoweed is often a common name for plants produce swainsonine, a phytotoxin harmful to livestock. In cattle at high altitude, complications of locoism can include congestive heart failure. In cattle, sheep, and goats, locoweed poisoning causes reproductive losses.
The main flowers of summer are just starting in the Valley but in contrast, Patricia Berman, local wildflower guru found “My hikes this week took me up to higher elevations where most of the flowers are not yet blooming. I did see fields of Marsh Marigold and Globe Flower on the Columbine Lake trail. Sometimes it is good to not have a destination and instead just enjoy the wilderness that you are in.
Take those moments to look around and see what’s blooming or stop to listen to a waterfall, coming over a cliff, that is only there for a brief time. I also saw this week, on the Strawberry Trail, bouquets of blue Columbines that are just starting to bloom. Cross Strawberry Creek on the bridge and continue down the valley to find that perfect lunch spot by the creek. Listen to the river as it rolls past you full of snow melt.”
LAND TRUST FUNDRAISER
To help preserve some of these vivid displays of nature, help support your Colorado Headwaters Land Trust Sunday July 10 230p-530p at the Winding River Ranch with live music, paddle raiser, live auction, fishing along the beautiful Colorado River, hiking, horseshoes and petting zoo, family friendly dinner and dancing. Ticket are $60.00 per adult and kids 12 and under $30.00. Call 970-887-1177 or visit ColoradoHeadwatersLandTrust.org for more information or to purchase tickets.
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Due to current public health guidance, there will not be an in-person wilderness campsite lottery for Rocky Mountain National Park this year.