Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wildflower display before expected Spring storm

From the top of Rodgers Peak on the east side of Rogers Pass 
First Indian Paintbrush of the year

Lots of glacier lilies means the snow has just left

Blue Forget-Me-Nots, Pink Douglasia alpine flowers

Trying to beat the expected Spring snow storm Wednesday and Thursday, I went to Rogers Pass Monday to climb to the ridge lines on both sides of the pass.
It is nearly 1,400 feet to the east and 800 feet to the west, so I got in about 2,200 feet of vertical in gorgeous sunlight and poofy clouds.
Along the way I was treated to a spectacular display of wildflowers, some of them surprising me because I don't usually see them until next month, particularly the alpine varieties.
On the west side the top was spangled with Forget-Me-Nots, Douglasia, Yellowstone Graba, Prairie Smoke.  These are bright blues, pinks and yellows.
Not far from the trailhead I saw my first bright red Indian Paintbrush of the season, and tons of Glacier lilies.
The east side, which faces away from the dominant sunlight had fewer flowers, but even there the alpines were resplendent.
I didn't follow the trail on either routes, taking the ridgeline to Rodgers Peak on the east and leaving the trail as it opened up to the grass on the west.
There was a lot of snow in the Red Mountain (elevation: 9,411 feet) country and most smaller peaks surrounding it.
Again, I marvel at how handy this Continental Divide Trail country is to Great Falls --- and hour's drive for all this.

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