In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holidays -- 2011

A coolish wet day in middle Tennessee -- green in the backyard of son Mike's home, weeping willow trees pretending it is spring -- so different from the frozen landscape I left in Colorado.

After rousing Christmas celebrations and a quiet movie day after, the adults have returned to work and the grandsons (older but not really adults) were sleeping. The older one was company earlier, but returned to his cave for a rest after cooking pork tenderloin in preparation for a stir fry later in the day.

The celebrations here seem remote from the Christian Christmas story, although there was a lovely creche at the home of the friend who turned 50 on Christmas Day and religious icons and a brief rote prayer at the table at the combined Means-Sanders-Cox Christmas dinner.

The holidays here are about family and friends and that seems to be where transformation and the spiritual journey hits the road and has meaning. A calm peaceful presence seems to be the best gift I can bring to this household where the boys aren't measuring up and taking responsibility for their lives and where their parents are a mixture of angry and sad and disappointed and worried and glad to have them well and okay today.

As we all look back on wasted years of our lives, we want those who follow to realize how important these days are and to use them well. It's not a lesson the young are likely to get until they have wasted more days and had more hard knocks, but we wish for them to find solid dreams and pursue them with verve and zest--energies that are harder to reach down and pull up in later years.

A walk along the Cumberland River with dear friend, Tiffy, pictured above, was relaxing and pleasant--lovely to find such a trail (paved even) near the heart of Nashville, wonderful to have time with her.

Lunch with Karen, one of my "girls," gave pause and thanks for faith and the work she has done in getting her life on track--hard work and hard won peace.

Visits with friends who aren't so fortunate, a younger one dealing with heart therapy, a result of the chemo she was taking for breast cancer; an older one who has survived a stroke (13 years) long enough to have more days when she feels sorry for herself that was ever her style, reminded me of my good fortune. I try never to take my good health for granted. It can change in a minute.

I left Nashville to return to Colorado grateful for my family--son, daughter-in-law, and grandsons and for extended family and for friends of many years--for the time spent with them. I left with optimism, even though there are trials of cancer, addiction, money, and distraction in the lives of those I love. I left feeling loved and loving--blessings that are the most valuable of all.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Eyes to See

No one warned me that when the patch was taken off on the morning after cataract surgery on my right (close vision) eye, I might have foggy sight. Only after the procedure two weeks later, designed to give me sharper vision in my left eye by eliminating scar tissue around my 15-year-old lense implant, did I learn that the lense would be "floating" in its sac for up to a week or ten days before settling down in a new "nest". So as the right eye was clearing, the left was distorted, and without a distance contact lense for the right near-vision eye, I was a more handicapped night driver than before any of the surgeries.

Seeing has been important to the point of an obsession with me. The handsome young anesthesiologist who had done his internship and residency at Vanderbilt had barely stopped shaking my hand when I said I didn't want him to administer propofol (a very popular short-term anesthetic these days). I wanted to be awake and know what was happening, even if I couldn't actually see the surgery. He complied and provided something to take the pain edge away but that left me awake. (What I heard were complaints about dealing with an eye that had had RK cuts in it to improve sight prior to the advent of Lasex, which the surgeon had known prior to the operation.)

When I got glasses for my nearsightedness as a nine-year-old, I was amazed that I could see individual leaves on the trees while standing underneath them. When I got contact lenses for graduation as a teenager, I stood at the front of a local drug store, amazed that I could read signs near the back of the store. When I tried out a new distance contact over my now great near-vision eye and read most of the 20-20 line on the doctor's chart, I was amazed and gratified. I could not remember when I had been able to see so well!

But what about that inner-seeing? What about the journey to know ourselves? How many times do our lenses get clouded? NY Times op ed writer, David Brooks, recently wrote about seeing only what we wish to see, whether that meant ignoring what we saw (as in the Penn State scandal), or making what we see into what we wish was there. This is so easily true when we look at ourselves. Who wants to see the mote in one's own eye? Isn't it easier to see the one in the other person's?

In my spiritual journey, I often asked, "God, did I really need to see that today?" when shown some gnarly part of my personality. At this time during Advent, I'm reminded that I find it easier to see the needs of others, rather than to see and tend to my own. Yesterday I was reminded that my little job helping my daughter consists of what she sees is best for her at the time, correctly of course. I got to see that mote in my eye, the one that says "but I go out of my way to help her...." "That's what Mothers do," I'm likely to say if someone else points this out. But how far should I carry it?????

I don't need to feel as if I'm living her life--or to be disappointed when an opportunity to help with something that's fun for me (this time--shopping for accessories) suddenly disappears. Really-----shopping for things, pretty, but useless things to go into a 6-bedroom house occupied by one person--is that what should be occupying my time?

And what about that centering prayer work--the group with too many newcomers, the introduction dropped in my lap with no support from those whose schedule dictated the time the introduction would be held, the facilitators workshop held on a snowy day so it needs to be repeated at another time. Those in the group like it, the introduction went well, and the two who joined me Saturday morning enjoyed our time together. But where was I in this work--exhausted most of the time--and feeling unsupported. There's something wrong with this picture, and the blur isn't clearing on this cold snowy day.

What is my journey now? I seem to have that foggy sight in another way. It's been easier to be busy than to quietly wait for the Holy Spirit to point the direction.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Couldn't Resist

I had to go for a walk, once the sidewalk shovellers came and did their work. And my camera slipped into my pocket just in case. The area with the prettiest trees in our complex was closed off with yellow tape. Tree limbs and deep slush covered the ground. I made my way around and back to the lower part of that area--and on my way I found leaves and berries decorated with snow, works of art waiting to be photographed.

The newscaster said we had a foot of snow in the Boulder area. That was hard to tell since some of it had melted by the time I went for my walk. What was apparent was that the heavy wet snow that done quite a job of trimming the trees and shrubs. Winter's beginning brought temporary beauty. It will leave behind lopsided trees and shrubs with holes. The slick streets we didn't have this morning will come tonight, but most of us can stay at home. Thousands are still without power. Fortunately, mine is on, and I'm snuggling in for the evening. A pumpkin awaits carving--or painting. It's Halloween around the corner.

End of the season -- in Boulder and Boulder County

Above Eldora before the rain and snow began.

As the rain and snow began, the leaves were shining in a mass and dotting the mountains.

Weeds shining in color over Boulder Creek.

A few red leaves over the creek.

At Walden Ponds, about an eight minute drive from my condo.

Actually I'm a day late. The snow began before midnight and is still falling. I'm going to wait to post photos of the white stuff and share a few of the season that passed last night--that of our fall colors. In Colorado they are mostly yellows and golds with a few touches of red here and there. I have enough fall photos to leave my camera at home next fall, but I probably won't. I am inspired and warmed by the abundant fall color (even though I miss the oaks and maples of Tennessee and Missouri).

This is not the first snow I've encountered this fall. A couple of weeks ago, I drove up Boulder Canyon through Nederland and Eldora and hillsides covered with golden trees. It was a bit past the prime color, but still glorious. A weather front was moving in, and I wanted to catch the color before the rain and wind I expected began. From the Hessie trailhead, I walked farther and higher looking for landmarks and a view of the highest peaks. Clouds had covered the sky as I turned around. I continued to stop for a photo here and there and soon large raindrops were falling on my head--oh yes, and on my jacket and legs too. And as I thought I was going to get wetter than expected, the rain changed to snow. My camera couldn't reproduce the beauty of the large white flakes falling against the golden aspen, but trust me. It was stunning. Yes, by the time I reached the car my tights were wet and my gloves soaked through. The car's heater warmed quickly, and I drove out of the snow before reaching the top of Boulder Canyon.

Many fall days I've spent in daughter Michelle's office. It's a pretty spacious office over their garage, but it's not the same as being outside on a warm fall day. So when I had last Friday afternoon free and took a library book back, I started up the Boulder Creek path, camera in hand. I was only going to walk a few feet up the path, snap two or three photos and return to the car and errands that needed to be done. Two hours plus later I returned to the library parking lot and my car. I felt renewed and joyful as I exchanged pleasantries with others on the path.

I've captioned these photos more than usual, and all were taken in Boulder County. The first ones are at 9,000 + ft, high above Boulder. The creek path meanders through downtown Boulder and the shots taken there were not far from the library. Walden Ponds is a Boulder County open space area near where I live. The way I now reach my photos means I don't always know what I'm uploading. I didn't mean to include the tree from the ponds, but here it is.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall with friends

There is nothing better than a fall hike in the mountains with clear blue sky, changing colors and dear friends. I was the fortunate one who had that opportunity on Friday. I was in a terrible mood, had a difficult and exhausting week, and as one of them said, I needed them. Just expressing my frustrations out loud to good listeners made a huge difference. Naturally, it was just the beginning of processing what my current anger was bouncing against from childhood's experiences. It also brought up how I have created and/or supported the situation that now seems too much--how easy it is for me to let my creative work go to support others.

Now for fall's colors. They were and are stunning--yellows, golds, and a touch of red here and there. Our hike took us from Glacier Gorge (RMNP) past Alberta Falls where the waterfall photo was taken. We usually thread our way through the photographers there and move on with our hike (since this is early on the trail to many other favorite places). This time it was worth the challenge to get color and water together in a frame. Earlier in the hike we walked through and under the golden Aspens shown above.

Not all of the forests we hiked through were golden. The part of the trail that was most challenging wound through a forest that was at times mystical and often shrouded with pines, absent aspens that bring fall color. Since we were making a loop, this part of the trail wasn't familiar. Isn't that like life?! Some parts of our journeys are so familiar, so comfortable, maybe too comfortable. Other parts feel foreign.

How could I have stuffed all that anger deep inside? Why did I think that little Margaret, as I refer to my childhood self, was stoic so early in life? Anger is energizing--and also exhausting. It hurts in my guts. I can't tell how long (years) it took for me to quit fighting back with Dad. We could at least sometimes talk. Since Mother couldn't remember the meetings or her angry words, there was no resolution. I often focused on trying to help her, trying to make her feel better. I also tried to protect my heart from her angry words, hurled like arrows aimed to pierce. Eventually, limiting time spent visiting seemed the only way.

As I open my heart easily to nature's beauty, I can recall storms--blinding rain that obscured the highway, the tornado that chased us to the basement, snow piled too high to drive through, shivering cold. Much of life is beautiful too. The storms come and go. Living from our hearts lets in pain that might be repelled. It also opens us to love and beauty that are Divine gifts, gifts that can only be experienced fully from our hearts.

Enjoy fall's colors as they come, wherever you are. Look for life's beauty in small ways. Enjoy the moment. I'm thankful for the gift of friends who provide beauty in my life, whatever the season!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Beauty beyond the pictures

Where were you the last time you saw or experienced something of such beauty that you couldn't imagine recapturing it? It could be the face of a newborn babe or the delight on the face of a child as he/she put forward the latest creation for you to admire. Those are cherished memories.

Nature imprints different but amazing beauty. When we hike in the high meadows (about 11,500 ft.) above Black Lake, I cannot capture, either in words or with my camera, the expansive beauty that enfolds and inspires me. A better camera (or photographer) could provide a clearer representation. Perhaps a panorama might do it justice. And others might find the giant rock formations, slabs and sharp mountain peaks to be intimidating or too barren. The grasses hadn't turned colors in the first section we reached, and the upper ones, as you can see, were turning, but not into the red we enjoyed last year. The skies were blue and the day earlier so the light was rich--outside the shadows leveled by the rock layers.

These meadows are favorites of my hiking companion and me. At this point in our lives, only special places pull up the energy and endurance needed for the 12+ mile hike and 2000+ elevation gain, much of it in the last mile or so. The feel of being there, mostly without another human being in sight, in the midst of such grandeur is exhilarating--even on a day when my energy wasn't high. We didn't go on to Frozen Lake, our intended destination, since it was obvious that snow and ice awaited us there. On other years or days, we would have pushed on. This year when we reached the lovely tarns, we decided to eat lunch and enjoy the beauty surrounding us. The named lakes at the edges of these meadows are barren. The tarns, lovely.

If you look at the pictures from the one just above the narrative, that is where we began our tromp up and around the meadows. The second, with Long's Peak in the background, was after we had climbed around and up above the rock wall in the 1st photo. The tarns are across from the Spearhead (pointed rock), and the photo of me is facing the opposite direction from the tarns. Does that make you feel as if you are situated with us eating lunch? Unlikely. However, it's the best I can do.

Here's to making memories that can be pulled to enjoy on days when we need inspiration! Thanks for sharing mine.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The In-between Time

It interests me especially when my journey matches that of the season. It is the in-between time in the mountains. The flowers mostly gone, and snow lightly sprinkling the peaks around Sandbeach Lake, yesterday's destination, gave us notice that we can't count on sunny warm fall hiking days. We could have a number of fall hiking days at lower elevations, but time is running short for hikes in the 11-12,000 ft. ranges.

My life seems to be in-between too. I'm not where I used to be, putting on suits and business dress to go to a job. I piled those clothes (with a couple of bright suit exceptions) still in my closet in the giving away pile a couple of days ago. It felt more wrenching than I would have expected. It wasn't that the suits I took off hangers would be ones I could wear without having shoulder pads taken out and skirts taken in. They represented a time when others listened to me, when I worked on a bigger stage, when what I did made a difference to a number of people. The last vestiges of that life ended when I moved to Colorado. Now I listen to others, I facilitate, take what the group wants and move it forward, if in fact I have that roll.

I was completely in the background for the first half of the twelve plus years I've been in Colorado. It was necessary for the first few years--writing and healing. As I wanted to come forward, I looked too much to the church, and those opportunities eluded me. My calls seemed to be with small groups and mostly supporting others in their leadership roles

It is with this writing that I'm understanding the fatigue I'm having with that role. Even as I take on small leadership slots, they are about supporting and tending, and not about emerging. No doubt this fatigue about my current life, too much involved with supporting my daughter in her business, is bouncing against my childhood's role of care-taking and supporting my parents in their wishes. Then I rebelled against Mother by being certain not to become a school teacher. I didn't follow Dad's idea of taking the civil service exam to become a clerical worker for the government. Some of what I chose was what I wanted. Some was about not letting my parents influence me (although my change to a business major was my Dad's idea). They would eventually say they simply didn't understand what I did professionally. It was foreign. I hadn't met their expectations in so many ways.

Whose expectations am I meeting now? What call is mine at this stage of life? That old fatigue that is rising in my gut likely comes from the way I've taken on supporting others, based on a childhood model. There is another way. Finding it feels like the task of this in-between time.

Now to a meeting with my daughter and a trip to the Denver Design Center--mostly to return bags of fabric samples to various showrooms--a delivery girl's job! This writing has given me food for thought on the drive.

PS: That stuff in the foreground of the lake photo is SAND--around this high mountain lake!

Friday, August 26, 2011

We Know We Are Here!

This one looks more foreboding than it did as we

trudged up--probably because we were looking at

our next steps.

We knew where we were--after a fashion. We were above tree line--a long way above tree line for most of our hiking day. When the thunder clouds threatened, and we hiked toward tree line, it was farther than we thought--and by the time we reached a small clump of pines, the danger had passed. We started uphill again, up a flower-filled gully, was it? The melting snowbank above us was bigger than it first seemed. The sky was huge; the flowers profuse; the ripping streams that coursed down the mountains sides lovely. But where was our trail?

We had left the trail for a lunch spot--an inspiring overlook of the Gorge Lakes (top photo) near Mt. Ida. We had decided ahead of time not to climb to the peak. We had been there. We wanted a leisurely hike and had been on the trail by 8:30 am, early enough to enjoy the mostly above tree line hike and get back to the trailhead and our car by early afternoon. We could have done that. We didn't.

We set off from our gorgeous lunch spot and marched across the tundra, taking a few photos as we went. I was in the back, following along without thinking until suddenly it seemed that perhaps we had gone too far. I hadn't taken my share of responsibility for getting us back to the trail. I was being present to the flowers, to the tundra underfoot. I was not being present to the need to reach the path, although I knew we needed to hike out before the thunder clouds that had unexpectedly rolled up over the Divide earlier than usual dropped hail, rain, and worse--lightening--in our path.

We are seasoned hikers, me the junior at twelve or so years out here. My companions have trekked many more miles over more than twice as many years. We weren't lost, were we? When we reached the top of that gully and found no path, not even a familiar sight, our senior companion pulled out her cell phone and got reception. She let a friend know where we were--that we were off the trail in the vicinity of Mt. Ida. She left instructions about who to call if we were not back to Estes Park by 6:00 pm (we had about an hour's drive back from the trailhead). Of course, we would be back before that time, but just in case. We looked at a not-so-good map. We consulted a compass, then lost it. Where to go next?

Our fearless leader could get us back to the spot where we started down the steep incline toward the trees. We all agreed that was the best plan. Back through the flowers, across the streams, not taking pictures, barely noticing the luscious green moss (in photo above) we had photographed earlier. Now we needed our strength to trek back up that mountain I had said I wouldn't be able to get back up (as we headed down). I would have what I needed to trek back up that mountain, the top of which kept seeming farther away as false summits came into view. Would our 79-year-old friend be okay? We had assured her that this would be only a 6 or 7-mile hike since we weren't going to Ida's summit!

At the top of that climb, no trail was in view. What was in view was Grand and Granby Lakes in the distance--closer than they had been from the trail earlier. We turned in the other direction, more puzzled than anything else. As we rounded the next hill, I thought i saw a sliver of a trail. In front of me, our leader exclaimed, "there it is!" The trail was below us--several hundred steep feet below us. I would like to have a photo of that scene, but a bit of mountain sleet was hitting my head and reaching the trail was upper most in my thinking.

We got there! The sleet had changed to light rain, and marmot hill was in sight. (Marmot

hill is a big pile of rocks on either side of the Mt. Ida trail. Usually marmots are perched there in the sun, but not that day!) Our leader trekked on ahead. Our older companion and I stepped carefully (and sometimes reluctantly) over the rain-slicked rocks. My poncho, put on hastily, blew out over the trail in front of me, blocking my view. After fighting it for a few minutes, I decided the rain wouldn't bother me as much and took it off. In front of me, our older friend took it, folded it, and told me to turn around. After stuffing it into my backpack, she said, "There. Now I feel better." Yes, we were on our way back to the trailhead and our car. We all felt better!

An interesting aside--we were fearful only of the possibility of lightening. We were puzzled but calm as we trekked around the valleys and peaks, admiring of the beauty surrounding us. (We do look as if we are having a good time in the photo!) We did pull out reserve strength. We did overcome aches and pains. But fearful we were not. Our elder hiking friend was an inspiration, as she had been leading the Estes Park Centering Prayer group for fourteen years.

PS: My usual photo uploading sight froze so I got to these another way. Sorry most are so dark!

Finding the Path a Different Way

Off the trail by choice, off to a great spot for lunch--wonderful views, lovely flowers, inspiration from nature's glory with two close friends--the day couldn't have been better! Off by choice, getting back would be more challenging than expected. What does it feel like to be in the midst of such glory and not know where the path is?

There are many ways to share this experience, but since I was not on line or watching TV or reading newpapers Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday, it was yesterday when I learned that Tennessee women's basketball coach, icon Pat Summit, 59, had announced to her team and the world on Tuesday that she had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's.

"They decided to ask the girl over in physical education if she wanted the job," Pat Head told my professional women's club in Nashville in 1976, after finishing her second season as head coach. Many of the women listening to Pat that day were among the first in their positions or working in a world primarily peopled by men and understood her frustrations. She had driven the team's van to away games and washed their uniforms. Win as they did, the "girls'" team was but a tiny footnote on UT's athletics screen. What we all heard though was a woman committed to making a difference for women in athletics. We knew she would, but had no idea, of course, how clearly she would set the path for so many women who wanted to play sports at the college level or have coaching careers of their own.

Now the all-time winningest coach (men or women) in NCAA history has an unknown path set out for her. She has already attached it with her customary courage and determination. We know she will bring this awful disease, particularly devastating when it strikes early, to the forefront, that she will make a difference in the research funding, that her path will inspire so many. We wish her well, and will follow her women's teams wins and losses this coming season with renewed interest.

Our trek around the mountains on and off the Mt. Ida trail deserves its own blog. Suffice it to say here that charting an unknown course requires pulling out strength we didn't know we had. We were blessed to have the calm of our contemplative practice to support us in our journey.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Bull Moose

I don't usually write two posts in one morning. The first was my spiritual thoughts for the morning. This one is in awe of one of nature's beasts not usually found in this area. As we entered the Brainerd Lake recreation area, we were told that a bull moose was near that lake. We took a detour around Brainerd Lake before heading to the trailhead for Blue Lake, our destination. The first photograph is what I could see of the bull moose there.

We went to Blue Lake, admiring flowers and scenes, as well as the lake. On the way back, hikers coming up the trail alerted us to the bull moose's presence near the trail. We watched and looked--and there he was, casually munching on bushes, ignoring the gaping hikers with our cameras. The scene shows a bit of the area where Mr. Moose was making his way. Perhaps he was heading back to cross the Continental Divide where he would usually roam.

Close ups of Beauty

I'm a beloved child of God! You are too! Seeing others through God's eyes isn't possible for this human being. However, I'm looking more deeply into others, seeing bit of beauty I hadn't noticed before, realizing that something I had taken as a slight, a hurt. wasn't intended as such.

Compassion for myself and my mistakes hasn't been easy. I wasn't supposed to make mistakes, not any you would notice. I had to be right. That covered a lot of sins. I've had friends along the way who didn't let me get by with thinking I was right, the good kind who called me on my stuff. Then I began centering prayer, my silent Christian meditation practice.

Divine therapy, Fr. Thomas Keating calls centering prayer. At first consolation and peace may come in those twenty-minute periods. As time goes on, with consent (God lets us do the consenting), we are shown our barnacles and blemishes--some that have stood in our way of peace and harmony in this life. I get to see mine often--in living color and movie trailers showing a lifetime of effects.

As I look at the beauty of nature in unexpected places, I am reminded that we humans have unexpected beauty too. So I'm looking for it today, catching myself when critical thoughts show up and letting them pass like clouds moving quickly across the sky, replacing those thoughts with notice of beauty--in unexpected humans too. Maybe I'll notice some in myself as well.

PS: The photos are all from the Front Range area--my flower box, the Mesa Trail here in Boulder, Caribou Ranch where the columbines down the hill were unexpected, and on the 4th of July trail where I was waiting to cross the stream.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Walk Along a Flowering Trail

I was up reasonably early for a Saturday morning--especially after a day that included cleaning out an old man's apartment and taking some things, including his flat screen TV (which I carried in!) to his new abode in a nursing home. It was to be a clear day with little or no prospects of an afternoon thunderstorm.

I wanted to see the flowers on the trailhead above Eldora, which is a few minutes beyond Nederland, for those of you who know the area. The road from Eldora, about six miles in all, is rocky, narrow, filled with holes and boulders--just the road for my Subaru sedan! I had driven it before so I could do it again. The flowers are late this year, but it is August, and they will wither and wilt. I didn't want to miss them. What if I was already too late?

I don't know what time the first visitors' arrived at the trailheads--first Hessie, then 4th of July--but it must have been in the darkness. I led a parade of cars up the rocky road from Hessie and parked farther down the road from the trailhead than I realized until I walked back to my car after the hike.

I started out with camera in hand. I would take pictures and saturate myself in the beauty up to the spot where the lower flowers stopped. Then I would turn around and go back to the junction and walk to Diamond Lake, an easier trail with the promise of flowers all around the lake.

First I saw the yellow heartleaf arnica (#1) Was I too late? I could see them other places. Then I found a couple of tall monkshood (in the 2nd photo). That was better. Monkshood I would enjoy. Farther up the trail the hillside opened into a field of flowers. Paintbrush was added to the mix. I was in luck! The fields opened as I hiked up hill and stopped to take one photo after another. Then I was photographing the parry primrose by the stream and realised I would be making a decision. This was where I would turn around. But I didn't.

I had forgotten one thing. I am enthralled, yes that's the word, with being above tree line, about 11,000 ft. here. The trailhead where I began is at 10,000 ft. so it was only about two miles to that vantage point, and at the end of the lower trail's flower gardens, I was too close to turn back. I'd just go as far as I felt like it.

Wherever the masses of people from all those cars were, it wasn't on the higher trail. A man and his 7-year-old son and I caught up and passed each other as we strode up the rocky trail that hugs the mountain. They were on their way to Lake Dorothy, which sits just above 12,000 ft. He kept saying to his son, and to me without realizing it, "we're almost there." I knew that not to be so when he began his mantra, but it still helped.

I got behind when I found clumps of moss campion blooming next to the trail. This was an early summer flower, but here it was in August--blooming in full glory. I bypassed the bouquet of alpine columbine going up, but couldn't resist on the way down. I had to keep going or I would lose track of my young friend, now bounding up the trail. Nearer the crest and junction of the trail, my energy renewed. This year I would make it. I was going to Lake Dorothy!

The trail from the junction is a nice walk over the tundra. Yes, there had been many flowers there earlier in the season. Their remains dotted the landscape. That was okay. I can't imagine making the trek with all that could be blooming blossoming at once. The flowers in the last photo, similar to one I took near Trail Ridge Road in late June, simply jumped out at me from overhead, hanging onto the rocks near the opening to Lake Dorothy. Then the lake opened up

in front of me. I exchanged photos with the man and his son, me taking a couple of them and each of them taking one of me with the lake in the backgound. Should I hike there again, I would like to take a camera that would give you a real view of the area. However, if I'm never to make that full hike again, this was a blessed day.

Other hikes with friends along this trail have found us running from afternoon thunderstorms and pill-sized sleet. Yesterday I was blessed with blue skies and the opportunity to hike on to the uphill ridgecrest and hang out. I experienced the trail slick, not from rain and sleet, but with rocks, pebbles and sandy dirt. I was able to slow down as fatigue took hold. My birthday-gift hiking poles were firm. I had time to enjoy the flowers from a different vantage point though I did have to move on. I was grateful every step of the way for the opportunity to enjoy God's creation in such an amazing place!

PS: Yes, I have close ups of flowers and a few photos that might qualify as art photos. I've saved them for another post. This time I wanted to give you an idea of the variety and vastness of the beauty, such as is possible from my photographs.