We departed our campsite high above Breckenridge having reveled in living so high in the sky for days. We'd seen myriad signs of the herd of mountain goats who live in that locale but our only disappointment was that we'd seen no actual goats. Last year, we saw the herd, first milling around our campsite at dawn and then later galloping across the tundra. This year, we settled for seeing mountain goat fur draped from the branches they'd scratched their shedding coats upon.
After leaving the Breckenridge area, we moved on to the mountains above Salida. My favorite campsite sits in a verdant meadow loved by deer, elk, bear, and even mountain lions (hunting those deer and elk). The meadow sits high in the sky with views of mountains to the north and south.
The meadow is surrounded by a subalpine forest of Engleman Spruce and Subalpine Fir trees with a carpet of mountain blueberries beneath them. The forest contains a web of animal trails, worn to dirt by the feet of deer and elk. The bright green leaves of blueberry plants brighten the otherwise towering forest.
The blueberries were blossoming when we visited. The bears will be extraordinarily happy when the sweet berries emerge. We may visit this campsite again in August, and I'll look for berries then.
From this campsite, K and I took my favorite mountain bike ride on Earth. We started by climbing through subalpine meadows dotted with wildflowers.
We kept climbing until we emerged above treeline and followed a trail that hugs the ridge of the Continental Divide. We got an early start and were greeted by blue skies and an empty trail. K led the way.
But, I quickly called her back when I realized that she planned to body surf on the snow perched on the cliff. Not a good idea - she might have ended up in the Atlantic Ocean!
Summer was barely underway on this high route and some huge snowbanks awaited us. At the trail's level, this one was about 5' taller than me.
K scrambled directly up the vertical face of the snow bank and began her snow wriggle dance.
That is, until she realized that my camera was pointed her way, then she instantly composed herself to look dignified. How do dogs develop habits like not allowing candid photos??
In between snowbanks, summer wildflowers flourished. K stood proudly next to an Old Man of the Mountain, one of the biggest blossoms on the alpine tundra.
These gorgeous flowers dominated much of the landscape which was "buried under deep snow" just two weeks earlier. That's fast growth and blossoming!
Sometimes, they'd be surrounded by mountain bluebells, a strikingly brilliant blue.
We had a fabulous, top-of-the-world, day. It was a special day that I won't forget soon, believe me. K seemed pleasantly tired as we relaxed in camp for the afternoon, as soft lady-like snores emanated from her direction.
The sun set over our meadow, and the animals began to stir, emerging from their hiding places in the forest. What a peaceful and idyllic place.
I can't wait to visit again!