S: Blue Skies and Summer
FC: Photos by Ed & Anita Baker Paul & Cora Winters | Blue Skies and Summer A Colorado Mountain Vacation
1: Forward (version 1.2) Cora and I met Rome, Georgia residents Ed and Anita Baker during the summer of 2008, when we shared a ride to photograph whitewater rafters on the Arkansas River. We seemed to hit it off pretty well, and we subsequently invited them to stay with us at our home in Silverthorne, Colorado, during their return to Colorado in 2009. Part of the 2009 trip included the four of us spending two nights in Crested Butte the week before their Wildflower Festival. This book is the result of that trip. The spring of 2009 was long, cloudy and unusually wet. Local residents were complaining for most of the month of June, as persistent gray skies produced almost daily rain. When summer weather finally arrived toward the end of the month, it brought blue skies, green foliage and spectacular wildflowers. For months, we had been looking forward to a summer trip to Crested Butte, an area known for scenery and flowers. We had arranged to rent a charming home in town for two nights, and spend the days with our friends and cameras in the backcountry. -Paul
3: They say it's "all in the angle". Here are some of the multiple contortions we went through in search of the ideal perspective. It made my back hurt! -Paul
4: Many parts of Colorado's forests have been decimated by the pine bark beetle, which kill the trees and leave square miles of forest dead and brown. But not here...at least not yet!
5: Kebler Pass Road is a long dirt road, which goes from Paonia Reservoir to Crested Butte. Along the way are some of the most spectacular aspen groves in the state. The wet spring made for very green undergrowth. You should see the leaves in autumn!
6: We never cease to be amazed by the aspen trees, the simple symmetry of the leaves and the groves where they grow. And yet, each has its own individuality - some seem to have eyes that watch you as you move among them. Some of the largest groves are in and near Crested Butte and espcially on the approach along Kebler Pass Road. -Ed
10: Previous page left: Lake Irwin, along Kebler Pass Road, not far from Crested Butte. Previous page right: approaching the Paradise Divide Above: larkspur Right: arnica
11: The columbine is the state flower of Colorado. In July it's everywhere in the forest understory and even in sunny fields. Columbine begin to bloom in late June around 9000 feet. By late July they're going to seed. But if you go up a couple thousand feet, you can still find blossoms in prime condition. Altitude is everything in Colorado.
13: "Colorado....everywere I go I'm in your shadow...." -Chuck Pyle (musician)
14: Top: arnica, which blooms from late May well into summer. Left: miniature forget-me-nots.
15: Some of the flowers surrounding our rented Crested Butte "home". If you come during the Wildflower Festival, you can even participate in garden tours around town. These folks take flowers seriously!
17: Left: we knew about this field of mules' ears from a class we took during the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival a number of years ago. The Paradise Divide is in the background. This year we drove backcountry roads and got fairly close to the Divide, which was still closed by last winter's snow. In July???? Yikes! -Paul Above, lupine and mules' ears in an open meadow along Kebler Pass Road.
18: The bright red cap on an otherwise drab bird identifies the male Cassin's Finch, a permanent resident of high altitude pine forests. What an incredible singer!
19: The yellow-bellied marmot...high-altitude relative of the ground hog, poses for Anita's camera. Below, a mule deer flees from the sound of the car near Lake Irwin.
20: Near Cottonwood Pass, at 12,000 feet, a tundra pond still has ice on it in early July. The wildflower season is just beginning at this altitude. Right: blue flax, Paradise Divide in the background.
22: "Twin Lakes", on the approach to Independence Pass, probably one of the most spectacular passes in Colorado.
23: Above: Paul & Cora, Independence Pass. A cloudy but calm day--lack of wind is a rarity at this altitude.
24: Above: view from near Lake Irwin. Flowers were everywhere. Some of them were very small, but if you put out the effort to get down close to look at them, even the very small views were specatcular.
27: Quiet... Quaint... Quirky... Fiercely independent with an almost indescribable charm all its own. These are words that come to mind when one visits the town of Crested Butte. People smile and wave to passersby on the street. Bicycle riders adorned in pink tutus wheel past you on their way to wherever Pink Tutu Riders go. Crested Butte is a step out of time...not quite the Twilight Zone but pretty close to it. ~Ed
28: Eclectic and high tech - from a wall laminated with different license plates as a paint scheme to an outhouse sporting solar panels. Definitely original...definitely Crested Butte! -Ed
29: The town of Crested Butte goes to great lengths to preserve the "old town" feel of its city. Residents must jump through all kinds of hoops to remove or modify any of its buildings. The result is mostly successful.
30: The "Rosy Finch House" in Crested Butte was a historical reproduction/new construction that was filled with the comfort and the charm of a bygone day. The front porch was a comfortable spot to sit and watch. It would be worth the trip even if you wanted to spend the whole time sitting there watching the world go by. Leave the iPod at home.
31: The backyard was an oasis of quiet and retreat.
32: The town of Crested Butte is picturesque. You feel as if you are stepping out of time. Bicycles are a main mode of transportation in and around the town. We saw some real gems. -Ed The last time I rode a bike with a coaster brake was fifty years ago! -Paul | Anita takes the "townie" bike on a quick spin. | "This isn't as easy as I remember it being." -Ed | Look Ma, No Hands! Look Ma, No Teeth!
33: So long 'til next year!