Although I can't ride my mountain bike up above treeline in our area, I can't resist taking hikes up to the alpine zone. Hiking is much tougher on my back than biking so I always take these hikes with trepidation. Yesterday was an ideal day. No thunderstorms in the forecast so I could ride my bike first to loosen up my back and then go hiking. That's my formula for low-pain hiking, and it worked yesterday although it left me very tired at the end of the day!
The pups and I charged out of the trailhead, partly because R's wildly excited barking was embarrassing me. Of course, a ranger was there to observe him. She used her saccharine voice to thank me for keeping the dogs on leash with what I thought was a dose of sarcasm. I assured her (although I wasn't sure myself) that R would be quiet once he got moving. Unlike last year's hikes, it was the truth! I love the growing up process.
We always do the first crowded part of the hike fast - weaving through the people out for short strolls. During this phase, I realized that R had finally learned to pass people on a narrow trail without trying to get in their faces - Woo hoo! Once we reached to the quiet and peaceful part of the hike, we caught our first glimpse of our destination with an entire slope of columbines in the foreground. I sighed in happiness and gratitude that our natural world is so stunning.
The pups stopped to savor the scents.
The wildflowers were in full cry, including the ground hugging Moss Campion. It's an extremely slow-growing plant that's critical to holding soil in the rocky tundra. Often, other taller plants grow up through the Moss Campion from the soil below it.
All of sudden, both pups smelled something fascinating. K zeroed in on the scent.
Although they smelled them, neither dog saw that two marmots, huge rodents who live in colonies high in the tundra, stood on boulders below us.
One retreated to the den while the other stood tall, arms at his sides and buck teeth protruding, to keep an eye on us. The dogs were still oblivious so I could take a photo.
We moved along, up our exposed rocky trail, before the duo noticed the marmots.
When we approached the Divide, the wind hit us from the west. Suddenly, a whole new world from the other side of the Divide sprawled out before us.
I tried to take a photo of all three of us using the camera's timer but R turned his tail to the camera to play bite me every time!
Then, the duo seemed to smell the lake, and started walking briskly toward it. I spotted some Alpine Forget-Me-Nots, and stopped to photograph them, much to the consternation of the Duo.
Come on, the Duo said, it's a LAKE and no one else is here so we can swim!Despite the snow melting into the lake, doubtless making it hover just above the freezing temperature, the Duo swam with abandon!
They frolicked by the water to warm up after swimming.
Then, they lay in the sun surrounded by Alpine Avens.
None of us wanted to leave but a storm was inching toward us so we reluctantly headed back to the trailhead, having had a fabulous day in our mountains.