Day 17. Wildflowers!


Silver creek trail junction to baldy lake.

18.4 miles

We slowly got up and ate food. The morning was sunny and we got hot quickly. We made it to tank seven creek, one of the only water sources today, and met a thru biker there. He’s from Columbus, Ohio and studied American Chestnut trees at Ohio University. This is crazy because I also work in a lab that specializes on American chestnuts, or more specifically the pathogenic fungus that killed all of them, Cryphonectria parasitica which causes chestnut blight. We nerded out for a bit talking about what we did in each of our studies. He researched how the tannins in chestnuts leaves will affect forest soil when we recover the tree. 

Fantastic view in the morning. 

After the creek the trail slowly ascended, going through beautiful meadows for hours. Tons of wildflowers were blooming here. Many with whimsical names such as monskhood, pussytoes, shooting stars and elephant’s head. I stayed in the back of our group, taking time to look at and photograph these beauties. 

Elephant’s head! How freaking cool!?


Shooting Stars

Beautiful meadows much of the day.

Western Bistort. Their smell is… Uh like turds.

Rapunzle has been collecting animal bones along the trail and today we found the bone jackpot, an entire cow skeleton. It had been pretty rotted away and was very exposed. Although she’s been looking for a skull, a cow skull was very heavy and even one side of the jaw weighed more than a pound. A tooth would be cool we say! As we play with the bones I decided to reenact the 2001 scene where the protohumans learn to use tools. I grabbed a femur which still had the tibia attached with a tough ligament and in monkey fashion tried breaking the jaw open with the femur to get a tooth. After a few unsuccessful hits, the femur and tibia swung shut and crushed my hand on a final blow and chopped a nice bit of skin off. My pointer and middle finger on my right hand started bleeding pretty good. Fuck. I just cut my fingers open using a rotting cow leg. I got to have some nasty bacteria in that wound. I pull off a piece of skin that is dangling and the rest of the crew get out their first aid gear. I wash it with water and hand sanitizer. Then Leah used a syringe to blast away the blood and dirt. Then we dried it and I put on some neosporin and band aids that Tyler had. Oh well, that was stupid. 

You win.

We eat lunch at Sergeants Mesa which is a beautiful meadow with views of mountains all around. The meadow has lots of flowers and cows in it. We relax in the sun and I try to catch a butterfly I’ve never seen before. There are so many flies on this trail it is driving us all mad. No matter where you are on the trail there are flies all over you. All they do is fly around your face and land on you over and over. Never biting, just being very annoying to the point where each kill is rejoiced. Yesterday I breathed one in while hiking and had to swallow it with a gulp of water. Nasty little shits. 

Sergeant’s Meadow

Death camas flower

After lunch we walk the trail together playing a game of “would you rather.” We just think of nasty things you’d rather do and laugh for a good hour at this game. We reach the side trail for Baldy Lake which is half a mile off trail and down a steep hill. It sounds like it’s going to be a swampy mosquito infested campsite, but when we reach the lake it is a beautiful blue green snowmelt lake with steep rocky scree all around it. The water is clear and filled with little arthropods. We eat dinner and then sit by the lake as the sun sets behind the mountain. I try fishing for trout with some fishing line and a hook I found the other day, tied to my trekking pole and a bobber of carved wood. There are lots of big leeches in the lake and I try using one as bait. I have no luck so Leah takes over. Unfortunately we have no luck but all hang out and converse anyway. As the sun sets we head to our shelters and kill all the flies and mosquitoes that got in during setup. There are even more mosquitos here than the last campsite. Each person has a personal swarm of about 20 mosquitos when the wind isn’t blowing. 

Getting water at our lake

Family dinner!

Big old clump of Colorado Columbine!

Nice Penstemon

Rapunzle and the sunset

Soaking in the beauty

One thought on “Day 17. Wildflowers!”

  1. Your cow story reminded me of the Terminator movies. Even when down to just the skeleton, it still kept coming after you 🙂

    Really enjoying the blog, and your wonderful macro photos of insects and flowers. Fantastic!

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