It seemed appropriate to celebrate the first day of summer by spending most of it outside. The weather was perfect for a long hike and one of Colorado's highest peaks was the goal.
The trail ascends sharply immediately after crossing a large stream, but shelter from the morning sun is provided by dense woodland. In the many small clearings, wildflowers are abundant. The beautiful death camas is in full bloom, and native columbines are irresistible to honey bees.
The clearings become larger until the treeline is reached and the mountains ahead become readily visible, while distant peaks can be seen when looking back toward the trailhead.
Mountain streams and carpets of wildflowers greet visitors and give evidence of last winter's snowpack. Marmots thrive in the nearby boulder fields and scree slopes and, aside from a few dry seasonal tributaries, there is little evidence of drought. Marsh marigolds line the upper streams until one final crossing leads the hiker away from the lush vegetation and into an arid, alpine environment.
Direction changes in the rocky trail lead to rapid elevation gains, allowing ever more impressive views of the valleys and mountains all around. The trail then becomes very steep, and the final ascent is an exhilarating 10 minutes of scrambling before a surprisingly simple walk along a windy ridge to the summit (marked by a USGS benchmark).
With no sign of adverse weather, the solstice afternoon was a perfect time to be at 14,000 ft.
"Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." Henry Thoreau
All images shown in this post can be found in my summer gallery.