Colorado Day 5 - Fish Creek Falls

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Fish Creek Falls is one of the natural beauties that grace Steamboat Springs. From the parking lot there are a couple of trails - one to the overlook, the other down to the falls and up over the mountain. So first morning in Steamboat, we trekked first out to the overlook. How spectacular! The falls was running so fast, from this look of it, we might have been at Yellowstone. Turns out the town of Steamboat is first in line for water off the continental divide. They have a processing plant not far from the fall. The tap water in town is superb.
Fish Creek Falls
On the way down we saw a number of the usual suspects. The trail is not very steep and it is easy to dally.
Eriogunum umbellatum on the hillside

Linum perenne at the overlook garden

Mertensia in the ditch

Rubus parviflorus at the bend





The view from the bridgte
Many years ago there were so many fish in the stream, one merely had to hold out a net to supply dinner. This day, the water is running a little fast for that. In fact, records are being set for the time of year for amount of flow in Fish Creek, the Yampa and Elk. Along the far side of the bridge some cystoperis looking ferns were winding there way along the stone work on the one side, and a nice shrub was blooming on the other.



Hiking up the trail there were a few other natural wonders of the plant variety for our enjoyment.  Keying them out may be a different matter.








Colorado Day 6 - Steamboat

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Steamboat - the mountain
As Katie said - whenever you get 80 degrees on the mountain (26C), you get a thunderstorm. Usually this does not happen until afternoon. So we got an early start this day as the weather was looking pretty potent from the beginning of the day. The lifts were running, so we took the gondola up.
Steamboat gondola on the way up
The lift did not get us above treeline, but there was a nice nature trail.
Populus on the trail
Androsace on the trail

Clematis scrambling through the brush

Delphiniums in the ditch

Hydrophyllum

Lupines were just beginning to bloom

Mahonia tucked into a crevice

Physaria in the open boulder field
Unfortunately we had to scramble when we heard the three hoots of the gondola horn. An awe inspiring storm was upon us.

The gondola does not run in rain, much less lightening. We had lunch to wait out the storm. Some of our fellow trapped hikers were shuttled down the mountain by bus, 30 people at a time. But we were fortunate enough to get the lift.

Colorado Day 4

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Setting out from Fort Collins, we headed north to Wyoming. But first we had to go through the mountains and their passes. One interesting marker along the way concerned Virginia Dale.
Highway marker for Virginia Dale
In "Roughing It", Mark Twain described the goings-on at this stage station, named for the wife of the infamous Jack Slade. After the Union Pacific Railroad laid tracks to Cheyenne in 188, the stage station floated to obscurity. But what remains is currently the only Overland Stage Co station still standing. The Virginia Dale Community Club is an educational and charitable organization which receives its support from the general public. The stage station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

The Touch of Wyoming

Just outside of Laramie, I started noticing flashes of purple. Whoa, plant stop! Rod pulled over while I jumped from the jeep, camera in hand. My first legume of the state:
Oxytropis besseyi 
Oxytropis besseyi
Then came the attack - mosquitoes landed and blatantly bit anything warm they could find, through my scarf, through my pants through my skin! Rod rolled up the windows as fast as could be, trapping one in the top. I ran back to the car and away we sped.
A Wyoming mosquito
Later we took another break. The wind was blowing so hard, the bugs had to cling to the ground. We were safe to hunt plants. And what a score we hit- a vast bunnery!

  Safe to say I need to look up these gems in a manual for the area. But oh, they were good.
Phlox hoodii

Phlox muscoides

Phlox muscoides

Leptodactylon caespitosum
Opuntia polyacantha
Sphaeralcea coccinea

Gaura coccinea

Sphaeromeria capitata

Eriogonum acaule

Eriogonum acaule

Penstemon laricifolius ssp. exiliifolius
the only moving bug was a big beatle
Stanleya pinnata

We dallied in that incredible little dale until the rain and the wind let us know it was time to mosey on down the highway.
Wyoming
Then it was back down, up into the mountains of Colorado. Our destination was Steamboat Springs. We thought it had begun to rain again. Splat. Splat. Big sounds like big raindrops. But to our amazement, it was a hatch. The bugs were so thick it looked like the air was a brown moving mass. As we climbed they passed. Looking at the map the shortest way seemed obvious, but the road started looking a little washed out. A quick call to our son Tim confirmed it. Buffalo Pass still had 6 feet of snow, so we should stick to the main road. So we turned to Rabbit Ears Pass.
Rabbit Ears Pass
Muddy Pass
We made it to Steamboat just in time to watch the bike race - the Town Challenge. Tim and Kate both climbed the mountain.
Racers Kate and Tim