While in Vail, I even got the rare and treasured opportunity to take a hike on my old faithful Lionshead trail, with only my dog Sam for company, just like the old days. My husband, the baby and Fred-the-basset napped peacefully back at the condo.
These lilacs belong to someone who lives at the base of the trail...and like everything else, they are thriving on this unusually moist Colorado weather!
Above is a view of the Gore Range, seen through the backside of the Vail ski mountain...looking particularly spectacular this June thanks to all the late snows!
Poppies near the base of the trail (belonging to the same person as the lilacs...I have admired their poppy beds every summer for as long as I can remember).
The lower portions of the trail are also graced by pairs of blue-tinged white butterflies, which flirt and circle one another like something out of Bambi, giving this wonderful trail even more of a fairytale air!
A small bridge crossing the creek, with its chilled runoff from the snowy mountaintops.
Jumping around a bit here...at the top of the steep and winding trail is the Lionshead rock, from which certain areas of Vail take their name. From the little town of Minturn, far below, it takes on the appearance of a cougar's head. From on top, however, it is just a large outcropping of shaggy, lichen-covered redrock, with spectacular (and not a little vertiginous) views of the narrow valley stretched out far below. When I reached the top of the trail, swallows were playing on the complex wind currents that come into play as soon as you emerge from the woods, swerving and looping and diving around one another. Such a joyful image! After several tries, I finally captured one on film (you can see him near the top of the frame).
The sun-filled aspen grove just below the top.
Sam and I couldn't resist taking a souvenir shot with the self-timer, just for the sake of nostalgia. There were years when Sam and I were eachother's only hiking companions....mountain-climbing companions, road trip companions, camping companions, etc.
Views of Mount of the Holy Cross from one of the lower elbows in the trail.
Deep, dark, faerie-tale woods.
Old-growth aspen with beautiful, smooth white trunks.
Sam taking a breather on an outcropping. Neither he nor I are in quite the shape we used to be (though for an 11-year-old dog who leads a much more sedentary life these days at lower altitude, he did amazingly well!) If you can believe it, Sam and I used to do TWO of these hikes per day, EVERY day, all year long, even in the deep snow, at altitude! I miss those days, I have to admit. The lack of real backcountry hiking is the one thing that I really miss since moving out of the mountains.
This critter looks as if it were meant to imitate pine bark, but here it is resting spectacularly for a moment in the green groundcover.
I had a suspicion that the wildflowers were going to be epic this year, thanks to all the late snow and unusualy quantities of rainfall, and I was right. They were epic. In nearly 16 years living in the highcountry, I don't think I've ever seen them so lush, so brilliant or so profuse.
And the meadows....yup, straight out of The Sound of Music.
Sam was a happy, happy camper that day. Not only did he have his old trail back, but his mommy all to himself again.