In early August, I made my annual wildflower pilgrimage to the West Elk Mountains and the San Juans.
To see more photos from this trip, please visit the San Juan Wildflowers 2016-08 location gallery here. Click on any image below to see a larger version.
I started this trip above Crested Butte at Paradise Divide. After setting up camp and taking a few shots of flowers and sunset, a hiker came to the car and asked if I had any water and if I could give him a ride into town. Turns out he had hiked from Lake Irwin (20 miles) and the driver who was supposed to pick him up had not arrived. The hiker had broken his water bottle along the trail and appeared to be suffering from exhaustion and dehydration, so I made room in the car, gave him a bottle of Gatorade and drove down Slate River road in the dark to Crested Butte, where we were met by his sister. Then I drove that same narrow shelf road back up to Paradise Divide in the dark, went to bed, and then got up at midnight to shoot the stars. This encounter certainly made for an interesting night.
The areas around Paradise Divide and Emerald Lake always seem to have an abundance of wildflowers and great scenic opportunities that keep me coming back year after year.
Lupines & Mule Ears
Cloudy Milky Way
After reading about the wildflower and scenic opportunities at Blue Lakes near Ridgway, I decided to have a look for myself. The hike to the Lower Blue Lake is quite steep in spots, but the climb is certainly worth the effort and the views and the flowers got even better between Lower Blue Lake and the Middle lake.
During the hike back to the trailhead, the skies darkened and it started to rain lightly. Thank goodness I take rain protection on my hikes. After a short while, thunder echoed off the mountainsides, the rain got heavier and it started to hail. This wet weather continued the entire 4 miles back to the trailhead.
On this trip, I also visited Stony Pass outside of Silverton and the American Basin on the Alpine Loop, but the photo opportunities in both areas were limited by overcast skies and rain storms.
To see more photos from this trip, please visit the San Juan Wildflowers 2016-08 location gallery here.
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