Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wildflowers Along Dutch Creek Trail, Colorado

I love living in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. They twist, turn, dip and undulate like a soft grassy blanket over the rising earth.

Their topography never ceases to amaze me, as does their colors, which are ever changing with the seasons.

My husband and I are fortunate, because we live in Ken Caryl Ranch's valley, and the majority of the 20 plus miles of open space trails in this valley are for the private use of the residents and their guests,  My husband and I decided to walk on one of the more rustic private trails, Dutch Creek Trail, early one weekend morning. It is considered an easy to moderate trail that leads from the North Ranch Road to Highway C470.

It is a winding, rustic and narrow dirt trail, and we weren't sure what we'd see.

Much of this portion of the valley's open space is still under archaeological study, and this morning we saw archaeologists from the Denver chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society climbing the nearby north hogback to do further investigations.  If you'd like to see an interesting video about the archaeological finds in Ken Caryl Ranch, that go back thousands of years, go to this link.

We kept on with our walk along the trail, keeping our eyes open for snakes and other wildlife.

We could finally hear running water of Dutch Creek at this point on the trail. My husband stopped to look down the ravine at the water and wait for me...

...until I finally caught up to him.

As usual, I had been busy taking  photos of the creek and surrounding views.  Notice my sun hat--it's an absolute necessity to wear one when walking the trails here.  There is not much tree shade and the sun is very intense because we are at over 6,000 feet elevation in this valley!

This is what has also been making me lag behind as we walked the trail--wildflowers! Every place I looked along the trail I saw unique and beautiful wildflowers!  I bought a field book about Rocky Mountain Wildflowers recently, and I'm trying to learn the names of as many as I can.  Let me show you what I saw--and please, if anyone has more knowledge than me, please correct any errors in the comment section of this post and I will correct it.  Many wildflowers look alike!

Prickly Poppy Flower

I believe this flower has the fanciful name Butter 'n' Eggs--I could not get too close to it as it was on the other side of the creek and was blowing in the wind.

Blue Flax Flower

Silvery Lupine 

Orange Paintbrush

Sub-alpine Larkspur

Wild Roses -- growing along the banks of one side of the creek in thick hanging brambles

There are quite a few different daisy-like wildflowers, but I believe this one may be Porters Aster or Rose Heath

Yarrow Flower

Salsify Flower

Salsify Seed Head

Western Spiderwort Flowers

Field Bindweed Flower

Bristle Thistle --in pre bloom. 

This was high up on a hill, but I believe it is called Mormon Tea or Jointfir

We were getting close to the end of the trail but we decided to turn back as the underbrush was heavy. We were worried that we might encounter rattlesnakes, and, as we did not have our walking sticks with us as protection, we decided to return another day to finish walking this trail.  I'm sure if I go back another day there will be other wildflowers in bloom, so trail walking in spring and summer is never dull

Looking up at this point of the trail I could see the rock spine of the hogback, and I wondered if these boulders could come crashing down one day?

Many rested near the trail, so it was a true possibility, and made our walk seem even more daring!

My husband is ahead of me again on the trail on the way back, as I am still looking for wildflowers I might have missed.

If you click on this photo to enlarge it you can see that the archaeologists were still investigating the hill top. I wonder if they found anything of interest?

As we drove home, I spied more trails leading up into the foothills that we will have to investigate one day soon. I'm sure there will be many more wildflowers waiting to be admired and photographed by yours truly!

PS: I've been busy editing my photos from my recent trips to New York, Chicago, San Francisco and the wine country of Napa and Sonoma, and hope to show you more from those visits very soon!

PSS: if you are a woman over 50 years of age, and would like to find out how you can have a chance to win $10,000 to "reinvent" yourself, please read my prior post sponsored by Oxytrol® For Women and BlogHer.

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Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a fabulous place and a wonderful way to enjoy a day outdoors. I can understand the sun hat too. I adore wildflowers. Of all the ones you spotted the Spiderwort was my favorite. It reminded me of a Dutch Iris.

It's nice to see how happy you and Vinnie are, enjoying your retirement walking the trails together. Live is good.

Massimo said...

fantastic reportage for a very nice walk... well done Pat !
and yes, you are lucky to leave in such a beautiful area !

Anonymous said...

Looks like a super place to hike, and my husband would be waiting for me as well. XOX

The thistle bloom looks great!

From the Kitchen said...

I'm happy to see the lovely photos of wildflowers and none of rattle snakes. Yikes! I'm looking forward to your photos from your trip, especially Chicago.


diane b said...

I'm amazed at how well you have adjusted to the different kind of life you have compared to when you were in NYC. It is great to see . The trails look so inviting but not sure about rattle snakes!!!!

eileeninmd said...

Pat, what a beautiful place to hike.. The trail, mountain scenery and the wildflowers are gorgeous.. Beautiful photos.. Have a happy weekend!

Nellie said...

You are doing a great job learning the names of all those wildflowers! They are different, depending on the part of the country you find them.

The Gathering Place said...

What a large variety of wild flowers to see in one hike! You and your husband are going to be trail experts in the area, as you will soon know all the interesting facts about each area. Looks like a fun way to get fit and enjoy nature.

podso said...

A lovely collection of wild flower photos you have put together! You guys must be keeping fit with all your hikes!

ellen b. said...

Great hat, Pat, and how wonderful to have these trails to explore! Lovely photos...

Vee said...

Spiderwort looks exactly so and I have always wondered what the butter and eggs flowers are called as we have them here, too. The others are not as familiar to me...oops, the larkspur is. Looks as if V was heading back to the ranch. Nice of him to wait for you!

Pamela Gordon said...

It really is beautiful there with such a different landscape. The many flowers are pretty too. It would be fun to hike those trails except for the snakes and danger of rock falls. lol Just minor inconveniences eh? Thanks for sharing your hike. It was beautiful!

Sara said...

Thank you for the flower lesson! "Bristle Thistle" is my favorite name because it is so fun to say.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Pat- i really enjoyed this post, because I too, am always photographing wild flowers on hikes I make in the mountains, in the US and abroad. The butter 'n eggs is one of my favorites.

annie said...

Beautiful flowers.
You look so cute in your hat!!

Roz Corieri Paige said...

What a beautiful place to live and be able to walk in. It must be so peaceful. I love your photo collages of the beautiful wildflowers of Colorado!

Lorrie said...

Such a gorgeous place to walk. The high mountain meadows are full of wildflowers. I was glad to see all your identifications as I'm still learning about them, too.

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

Glad you took the time to 'stop and smell the roses' as we were able to enjoy all of these lovely wildflowers as well ! :) My oldest son is in Colorado right now with a friend..around Aspen / he posted alot of shots on FB the other day of scenery / hiking etc. :) He had a winter jacket on ! :)

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Funny how that happens...that the one with camera always lags behind? I know exactly whereof you speak. Beautiful pic's! Once again, I am so happy for you...that you have landed in such a lovely spot to call home!

Anonymous said...

How very gorgeous!

SmilingSally said...

Hi Pat,

Blue flowers are so rare, and you've found two varieties today! Thanks for sharing.

Happy Blue Monday!

carol l mckenna said...

Absolutely gorgeous floral photography and hubby is cute too ~ thanks, xoxo

artmusedog and carol ( A Creative Harbor)

Al said...

What a beautiful trail right in your backyard!

Joy H said...

Beautiful area and scenery. I have two nephews stationed in Colorado
one is in the Air Force and one in the Army. Happy Blue Monday!

Grantham Lynn said...

Brings back bittersweet memories. We got to live at
Boulder Valley for a short time. These pics look so much like the views we had. Lovely pics.
Thanks for sharing on Blue Monday.

Michelle said...

Hiking in Colorado is always a feast for the eyes. You did a wonderful job photographing these flowers!

Felicia said...

gorgeous scenery. Thanks for sharing. I LOVE Colorado, especially in the San Juan Mts.

Veronica Roth said...

Just perfect there. I love the high grass lands. My daughter and I drove off road yesterday and found some too. Lovely photos. :)

Annesphamily said...

Lovely photos Pat! I have some sort of "different" flower growing in my front yard. Someone told me it is extremely poisonous! Yikes! As a Colorado native I will always love and treasure the Colorado Columbine flower best. You can even have it on your license plates with Respect Life. It came out a short while after the Columbine HS shootings. I don't have it on our plates but I would if I could! Thanks for sharing and Happy Blue Monday to you!

Fun60 said...

I love your description of the Rockies as well as those beautiful wild flowers.

Arija said...

Great to see both your stamina going up that lovely trail. I am not allowed anywhere near 6,000' without oxygen which is really limiting as I dearly love mountains. Lovely to see your larkspurs, I can't even get them to grow properly in the garden.
A lovely post. I can never get enough of the Rockies.

Wandering Wren said...

What a fabulous area to live and hike, rattlesnakes excepted. I have found since I started blogging I am always lagging behind taking photos :)
All worth it when it comes together so well in a post.
Have a great week
Wren x

Grantham Lynn said...

Oh thanks for coming by and reading my 'snail mail'post. I am looking forward to getting so mail. Hope you decide to join.
Have a great week,

Cranberry Morning said...

What an amazing and beautiful place! I kept expecting Roy Rogers to come galloping down that trail. Especially the photo of you husband leaning against that huge rock. Doesn't that just look like an old Western prop??

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

Sub-alpine Larkspur they are beautiful, at my Facebook, I am doing a collection of blue flowers.

pam said...

I love the flowers in Colorado. That Salsify Seed Head looks like our dandelions. lol I love how the thistle flower head looks but they are NASTY to step on, so we dig them up. My larkspur look much the same but ours are not called Sub-alpine. Very fun post.

Daniela said...

What a wonderful set of photographs, fantastic shots stolen from Nature in a wonderful place, the one you live in !
I'm sure this is a memory of a wonderful day, furthermore :)
Thank you my dearest Pat, have a very beautiful day!
Sending much love X

Hannah said...

What a fun retirement to be able to take nature walks in beautiful surroundings! The wildflowers would be what I would be looking at and being left behind photographing too. We have butter and eggs and bindweed here too but lack the pretty blue flowers. We have 3 kinds of thistles but none with such a pretty color of flower. Thanks for taking us on your hike!

Janice Kay Schaub said...

The walk sounds fantastic. I would be taking the pictures of wildflowers too but I would have boots up to my armpits. I do not mind snakes, but your kind is not friendly. So I would have to skip that walk thank you. Maybe if the trail was wider, I would be expecting them to be waiting for me on every turn.

steviewren said...

I love all the wildflower photos. They are simply beautiful.

Gale said...

So beautiful and green!

Gil Garcia said...

Pat, wonderful job! What time of year did you take your Dutch Creek Hike?

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi Gil

I believe I took this walk in June. The wildflowers are usually prolific then!