Posts Tagged ‘Boulder’

The Real Turkeys of Boulder

December 7, 2016

Slow though the process of selection may be, if feeble man can do much by his powers of artificial selection, I can see no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and infinite complexity of the co-adaptations between all organic beings, one with another and with their physical conditions of life, which may be effected in the long course of time by nature’s power of selection.

— Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species

I was out walking on Boulder Colorado’s  Goshawk Ridge Trail after the US Thanksgiving Day and I saw a single line of at least 15 Wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) cross the trail in front of me. This seemed ironic as Thanksgiving is a time when lots of domesticated turkeys in the US are sacrificed for dinner. According to the National Turkey Federation, 95 percent of Americans surveyed eat turkey during Thanksgiving. They also estimate that about 45 million turkeys are consumed each Thanksgiving holiday.

I was sorry I didn’t have my telephoto lens and an off-trail permit to get some photos of these real, not for sandwiches, naturally selected (vs. artificially selected) turkeys. I was determined to return and get some photos for you.

Our journey starts on the Fowler Trailhead. To get to the Fowler Trailhead go left about two miles west of highway 93 on Eldorado Springs Drive (highway 170) to County Road 67. County Road 67 goes up past the Eldorado Mountain Yoga Ashram and ends at the Eldorado Mountain entrance where we pick up the trail…


Eldorado Mountain Trailhead Sign

Here’s a trail map…


Take the Fowler to Springbrook North to Goshawk Ridge

The Goshawk Ridge Trail is within the Eldorado Mountain Habitat Conservation Area (HCA), meaning hikers must stay on trail unless they have an Off-Trail Permit. This free permit can be immediately obtained on-line.

Follow the Fowler Trail to the Springbrook  Trail. The  Goshawk Trailhead starts on the opposite side of a metal bridge over an aqueduct where you will see this sign…


Sign at Goshawk Trail

After several fruitless attempts I found a flock on 05 December 2016 in the old growth forest on the South side of the Ridge about 1/3 mile (550 m) from the trailhead…


I Found a Flock!

 Some Wild turkey facts:

-The wild turkey, throughout its range, plays a significant role in the cultures of many Native American tribes all over North America. Thanks to this we eat turkey on Thanksgiving day.

-The turkey was Benjamin Franklin’s choice for the United States’ national bird. He described the Great Seal…

“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… “

If the turkey was chosen as the US National Bird would we eat bald eagles for Thanksgiving?


United States National Bird (Almost)

-By the early 20th century, thanks to hunting and habitat destruction, wild turkeys no longer roamed over much of their traditional range. Wild turkey reintroduction programs began in the 1940s. These efforts worked well and wild turkeys now live across North America.

-Only adult male turkeys (Toms) display the ruffled feathers, fanlike tail and bare head commonly associated with these birds. They also gobble with a distinctive sound that can be heard a mile (a kilometer and a half) away.

-Wild turkeys can have over 5,000 feathers. Male turkeys also have what is called a beard located in the chest area. Upon sight, the beard appears to be hair, but is actually a mass of thin feathers.

-Turkeys have a keen sense of hearing and can pinpoint sounds from as far as a mile away.

-Despite their weight, wild turkeys, unlike their domesticated counterparts, are agile fliers. They usually fly close to the ground for no more than a quarter mile (400 m) at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour (88 kilometers/hr.)…


These Wings Are Made For Flying (note the “beard” growing from the breast)

-Males are polygamous, mating with as many hens as they can charm and may be seen courting in groups. Genetic analysis of pairs of males courting together shows that they are close relatives, with half of their genetic material being identical. This evolutionary strategy is unlike that of species (e.g., deer) where only the dominant male mates. This ensures that non-dominant male’s genes will have an opportunity to remain in the turkey gene pool…


Two Wild and Crazy Toms

-Turkey hens lay 4 to 17 eggs in early spring. The eggs are incubated for at least 28 days. The hatchlings are called poults and they hit the ground running. They are precocial (they are born able to survive) and nidifugous (they leave the nest shortly after hatching). Poults leave the nest in about 12–24 hours allowing mom to join the flock as a free bird. Hens do not invest much in rearing offspring because they don’t have to. Male turkeys don’t invest any effort in their offspring because that’s the way it is for turkeys.


Two Hens

-Occasionally, turkeys may behave aggressively towards humans. They have been seen to chase people. However, attacks can usually be deterred and minor injuries can be avoided by giving turkeys a respectful amount of space. A telephoto lens is required!


Thirsty Hen

– Predators of both adults and poults include coyotes (Canis latrans),  American black bears (Ursus americanus), and northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis). This may explain why the latter are attracted to this forest.

-Wild turkeys are omnivorous, foraging on the ground or climbing shrubs and small trees to feed. Turkey populations can reach large numbers in small areas because of their ability to forage for different types of food.


Tom Foraging on the Forest Floor

I discovered this young mule deer buck (Odocoileus hemionus) watching me photograph the turkeys. He appears to be saying…


How About Taking My Picture?

Wild turkeys have been created and evolved by natural selection. This makes them precisely adapted to the environments they inhabit. They are amazing and beautiful wild creatures reflecting the influence of the natural world.

Domesticated turkeys have been selectively bred by humans to satisfy our needs with traits that we want. The result is a freak unsuited for the natural world. For example, domesticated turkeys are bred to have large breast muscles. The big breast muscles on these turkeys make it too difficult for mating, so they must be artificially inseminated. What a life…


Modern Domesticated Turkeys Under Commercial Conditions. Photo by Scott Bauer

I prefer tofu.



Summer Mint Makes Me Feel Fine

July 20, 2015

A July treat here in Boulder Colorado is the arrival of Summer mint…

Bergamot Flower

This beautiful, aromatic plant is called Bergamot or Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa). While I like it for the gorgeous flower, wild bergamot was considered a medicinal plant by many Native American tribes. It is the natural source of the antiseptic thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas. In addition to alleviating bad breath it was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental decay and gingivitis. The leaves have the taste of strong mint. For many years I confused this plant with bergamot orange, an unrelated citrus plant used to flavor Earl Grey tea and make an essential oil (oil of bergamot).

Bergamots all have multiple flowers in dense heads with the pollen producing stamens protruding…

Bergamot Close-up

While Bergamot comes in many colors, here in Boulder it is usually a shade of magenta. We do have some that are white like this one on the Sanitas Valley Trail

White Bergamot Flower

My favorite purple bergamot vista is on the Mesa Trail between the North and South Forks of the Shanahan Ridge Trail. This is the perfect time to witness this yearly minty spectacle. I get there by hiking the North Fork Shanahan Ridge Trail  about 1 mile/1.6 km from the trail entrance on Lehigh Road up to the Mesa Trail and proceeding South. It is about halfway between the North and South Shanahan forks on the Mesa Trail. The total round trip distance is 2.2mi/3.5km from the access point.

Turn left at this sign…

Mesa Trail Sign

From here, it’s a short walk to the vista. I captured this panorama on July 23, 2009 @ 39°57’36.12″N 105°16’47.56″W…

Bear Peak Bergamot

I returned on July 19th, 2015 to capture this image from a slightly different angle…

Bear Peak Bergamot Vista-2 (12x5.4)

When I was there the flowers were being visited by our precious bees

Bee on Bergamot

…and hummingbirds

Bergamot with Hummingbird

The bergamot flowers won’t be there long so now is the time for your visit. The summer mint will make you feel fine and improve your breath.

Shanahan Ridge with Bergamot-3 (10x5)

Perishable Art

June 26, 2015

I can’t understand how people can create perishable art. I would feel awful seeing someone eating my photos, or watching them melt or wilt into oblivion. One of the many things that attract me to photography is its immortality. I have photos of landscapes that, as of the 2013 Boulder flood, no longer exist. Furthermore, now that the internet and digital photography are ubiquitous these photographs have traveled the world and will last until the next Ice Age freezes over the world’s servers.

While I spend most of my time photographing the natural world here in Colorado I am also attracted to documenting other artist’s urban graffiti. In 2007 I discovered this amazing graffito (singular) in a parking lot in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I photographed a section and uploaded it to my website for posterity. I’ve been trying to identify the artist but the trail has gone cold.

Santa Fe Graffito mural section captured on June 11th 2007…

Unfortunately, as I found out on a recent trip to Santa Fe, this form of art is as perishable as ice sculpture. Unless protected it will melt into obscurity.

Santa Fe Graffito melting mural re-captured on June 7th 2015…

The parking lot art gallery containing this and other works belongs to the New Mexico Workforce Connection building in downtown Santa Fe. Here’s a sampling of the creativity currently perishing in this cinderblock museum…

Urban Flora Corner

When I returned on April 21, 2018 it was all gone, replaced with a grey wall…

Blank Wall

More perished art…


Here’s a series on careers…





I was feeling bummed after seeing all this until I happened by the Santa Fe Teen Arts Center. This is an amazing place where art is nurtured and protected.

Here is the Phoenix that rose to lift my spirits. This fantastic mural is by John Santos. It is explained as follows…

Fenghuang the Chinese phoenix is a symbol of high virtue and grace of power and prosperity. It represents the union of yin and  yang.  When used as a decoration on a house, it symbolizes that loyalty and honesty was in the people that lived there.

Only one phoenix exists at a time and lives every 500 to 1461 years. After birth the new phoenix embalms the ashes of the old phoenix in a egg made of myrrh then deposits it in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis.(Sun city in Greek) and places it on an alter for the sun god. Heliopolis in this mural is represented by the Aztec sun calendar. In the background is Quetzalcoatl dancing in celebration of Fenghuang’s journey to the sun god. Quetzalcoatl is known as the patron god of the Aztec priesthood of learning and knowledge and is associated with the morning star Venus. It is also believed that Quetzalcoatl is the originator of the arts, poetry, the inventor of books and the calendar, the giver of maize to mankind and sometimes a symbol of death and resurrection.

Painting a picture that acknowledges life’s journeys and diverse backgrounds of everyone that have been dedicated to the Teen Center and its mission is reflected in this mural – an outlet for youth expression.

Santa Fe Teen Center Mural

Hopefully this beautiful mural is protected by the artist’s sage advice…

Toy Sign

Here is a sampling of what I discovered outside the Teen Center (it was Sunday so I couldn’t visit the inside of the building)…


Santa Fe Teen Center-1


Teen Center Rear Entrance

I hope to go back and help archive this joyful graphical extravaganza.

While I enjoy the creativity and visual excitement of graffiti, I do have one major exception. There is no excuse for using the natural landscape as a canvas. When this happens it is no longer art; it is vandalism. Artists and taggers have generally shown great respect for Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks. Here’s an unfortunate example of vandalism recently inflicted upon the land. Remember, “Only toys tagg natural space”.

Graffito is seen vandalizing Boulder’s Gregory Canyon as reported in the Boulder Daily Camera. (Photo: Lauren Fagan / Daily Camera)

Boulder Grafitto Vandalism

A Super Weed to the Rescue

December 4, 2014

Sometimes little things can have mighty big consequences.  Here’s a tale about a tiny plant that has the potential to help provide us with clean energy, produce new medications, end world hunger and reduce water pollution. I found it on the way to the South Boulder Creek Trailhead from the East Boulder Community Center

On the Way to The Boulder Creek

On the Way to The South Boulder Creek

To the left of this sign I spotted a green pond full of life in what was otherwise a pretty dormant landscape…

A Splash Of Green

A Splash Of Green

At first I thought it was algae but upon closer inspection I realized that the pond was covered with small plants busy photosynthesizing …

Small Green Leaves Cover the Pond

Small Plants Cover the Pond and Absorb Solar Energy

The Leaves About 5mm in Length

Each is Less Than 5mm In Length

It wasn’t difficult to identify this small plant and to discover the big tales it has to share…

What Is This Little Plant Up To?

What Tales Can This Tiny Plant Reveal?

This was my first encounter with duckweed (Lemna minor) named for the ducks that love to eat it. It turns out that this diminutive plant is of great interest to scientists. Research into duckweed is promoted by the International Lemna Association and the International Committee on Duckweed Research and Applications. A comprehensive genomic study of duckweed was published in February 2014.

Here are some quick facts about this mighty little plant:

-The duckweeds (genus Lemna for water plants) are the smallest, simplest and fastest growing flowering plants known to people who know such things. These tiny plants can rapidly cover enormous bodies of still water such as this duckweed invasion in Lake Maracaibo in 2004

Green swirls of duckweed dominate the center of Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo in this Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image acquired by NASA’s Aqua satellite on June 26, 2004.

Green swirls of duckweed dominate the center of Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo in this Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image acquired by NASA’s Aqua satellite on June 26, 2004.

-Individual plants consist of a single, flat oval modified stem no more than ¹/4″ (5mm) in diameter

-The flowers are rare and are nearly invisible at ¹/₃₂ (1mm) in diameter…

Tiny Duckweed Flower

Tiny Duckweed Flower

-Despite its flowers, duckweed sexual reproduction is also rare. More often species propagate asexually by forming new plants from vegetative buds.

-Dense populations of duckweed are an important food source for fish and waterfowl. Because the plant contains more protein than soybeans, it is sometimes cited as a significant potential food source for humans as well. Since the late 1960s, scientists have studied duckweed for animal and human consumption (duckweed farming). Because each plant absorbs nutrients through its whole structure, and not just through a central root system, the tissue contains twice the protein, fat, nitrogen and phosphorus of other vascular plants. Millions of ducks can’t be wrong and duckweed may become the food of the future.

-Some of the most exciting prospects in duckweed technology have been aimed at using this plant as a factory for biopharmaceuticals. This technology is making rapid strides towards practical commercialization.

-Since duckweed floats on the surface of the water it is easily harvested. This makes it effective not only as a food source but also as a way to remove pollutants and toxins from bodies of still water.

-These plants also may play a future role in water conservation because a cover of duckweed will reduce the evaporation of water when compared to the rate of a similar size water body with a clear surface.

-Duckweed is a good candidate as a biofuel because it grows rapidly, has 6 times as much starch as corn, and its cultivation does not contribute to global warming. Additionally, it does not compete for land in food production. It is being studied by researchers around the world as a possible starch-based feedstock for cellulosic ethanol production. Duckweed just might be a source of cost-effective, clean, renewable energy.

-Our knowledge of its complete DNA sequence yields insights into how duckweeds are adapted for rapid vegetative growth. Their trick is to genetically  mimic the rapidly growing juvenile stages of other plants. The research, simply titled The Spirodela polyrhiza genome reveals insights into its neotenous reduction fast growth and aquatic lifestyle was published in Nature Communications in February 2014. In simpler words, duckweed never grows up!  A trait which could come in handy.

We earthlings have a lot riding on this little super weed that refuses to grow up.

Thank You Duckweed

Thank You Duckweed


Sanitas’ Salvia Spectacle

August 31, 2014

The flora, fauna and cultural resources on the Sanitas Valley Trail (pronounced san-eh-toss with the emphasis on the first syllable since it is derived from the word sanitarium) make it one of my favorites here in Boulder. Among its charms is a diverse floral display from Spring through Autumn. The heavy rain pattern this Summer has greened the Valley making this an exceptional season for wildflowers. On my last visit with Mandy the dog I discovered that the lower Sanitas Valley has recently witnessed an explosion of tall blue flowers. I have never seen them this big…

A Floral Spectacle in the Sanitas Valley (  40° 1'19.19"N, 105°17'44.89"W)

A Floral Spectacle in the Sanitas Valley (40° 1’19.19″N, 105°17’44.89″W)

After several attempts and help from a few experts I identified these flowers as Salvia azurea (Wild Blue Sage). This hearty member of the mint family attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to the Valley.

This was too good to miss so I leashed Mandy in the shade and I took my camera into this field to capture the pollinators at work and the wildflowers that attract them.

Some of the blue color is provided by Chicory, a beautiful though noxious weed here in Colorado…

Cichorium intybus (Chicory)

Cichorium intybus (Chicory)

Next we come to the Salvia azurea…

Salvia azurea (Blue Sage)

Salvia azurea (Blue Sage)

A few of the Salvia are white…

White Salvia

White Salvia

Bees love this stuff…

Bee on Salvia

Bee on Salvia

Some touches of red are provided by Blazing Star

Blazing Star (Liatris)

Blazing Star (Liatris) with Butterfly

An occasional dab of yellow is provided by Gumweed…

Butterfly on Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa)

Butterfly on Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa)

In addition to insect pollinators the Salvia’s nectar is attracting a flock of hummingbirds. This morning there were at least a dozen of them humming about the delicate blue flowers. I’m told that these little jewels are Broad-tailed hummingbirds


Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus) Flight on Salvia Azurea

Hummingbird Flight on Salvia Azurea

Hummingbird Flight on Salvia Azurea

Hummingbird Flight on Salvia Azurea

This is hard work for a little bird, it’s time for a break…

Hummingbird on Tree

Tired Hummingbird Resting on Tree

Looks like Mandy needs a break as well. Here this cool trail provides welcome relief for a hot dog…



Boulder Birch Survived Big Chill

June 9, 2014

Paper Birch Vista

“Beneath you birch with silver bark
And boughs so pendulous and fair,
The brook falls scattered down the rock:
and all is mossy there.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

When the ice sheets from the Last Ice Age receded from Colorado about 11,000 years ago they left a vastly different environment for the fauna and flora that survived. Colorado’s high altitude encouraged great glaciers, some of which remain to this day (although they are now thawing quickly). This epoch not only wiped out the wooly mammoths, it took out the Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) trees as well.
Our Rocky Mountains were covered with Paper Birch until the climate warmed after the glaciers retreated. Now there is one small canyon in Boulder Colorado which is so narrow and protected that it endured the harsh Arctic-like climate and subsequent warming that changed the local landscape. We don’t have any remaining mammoths but we do have a small stand of Paper Birch that survived the post Ice Age warming. This Ice Age-free place is called Long Canyon, sometimes called “the Canyon that Time Forgot”. Let’s go back in time to find our ancient trees.

We start at the South side of the Realization Point parking lot on Flagstaff Road

The Trail is on the South of Flagstaff road at realization Point

The Trail is on the South of Flagstaff road at Realization Point (the traffic cones)

Descend thru the trailhead to the left of the Green Mountain Lodge Sign…

Descend to the Green Mountain Lodge

Descend Past the Green Mountain Lodge Sign

Soon you encounter the upper end of the Gregory Canyon Trail. Go right (West) after crossing the streambed (which was severely rutted by recent flooding)…

Cross the Rutted Stream and head West

Cross the Rutted Stream and Head West

The Habitat Conservation Sign holds a clue of what’s to come…

Paper Birch Clue

Paper Birch Clue

Continue to the Lodge where the trail splits, take the right trailhead into Long Canyon…

Soon the Trail Splits

Soon the Trail Splits

Sorry, no pups allowed because of the sensitive ecology on this trail…

Sorry Pups

Sorry Pups

Here’s the Green Mountain Lodge

Green Mountain Lodge

Green Mountain Lodge

Continue over the bridge…

The Bridge to Long Canyon

The Bridge to Long Canyon

Enjoy the welcoming stream…

Enjoy the Gurgling Stream

Enjoy the Gurgling Stream

Enter the Forest…

The Deep Forest

The Deep Forest

Enjoy the Canyon flora…

Heart-leaved Arnica (Arnica cordifolia)

Heart-leaved Arnica (Arnica cordifolia)

Lance-leaved Chiming Bells (Mertensia lanceolata)

Lance-leaved Chiming Bell (Mertensia lanceolata)

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon)

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum)

Western Wallflower (Erysimum asperum)

Western Wallflower (Erysimum asperum)

Coral Root Orchid (Corallorhiza maculata)

Coral Root Orchids (Corallorhiza maculata)

Enjoy the fauna…

Long Canyon Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

Long Canyon Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

We finally come to the ancient Birches…




Betula papyrifera

The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 1.5 in/38 mm. long growing from the tips of twigs…

Birch Flowers

Birch Flowers Appear In Late May 2015

If you continue 1.1 mi/1.8km to the upper end of the Trail you are on Flagstaff Road where you can catch a quick glimpse of the Continental Divide at the Indian Peaks. Here is where the glaciers went …

Continental Divide Peek

Indian Peaks Peek

This is the end of the tale of the Boulder birches until the Next Ice Age is induced by climate change.

Cold Boulder, Warm Dog

December 12, 2013

It has been cold and snowy here in Boulder Colorado with temperatures dipping well below 0F/-18C for an entire week. Mandy the dog and I went out one frigid morning to photograph our Flatirons right after a storm when the snow is billowing. I guess we were viewed as crazy by photographer Paul Aiken when he took this photo for the Boulder Daily Camera.

Thanks to Paul Aiken for Taking Our Photo!

Thanks to Paul Aiken for Taking Our Photo!

I managed to squeeze the shutter several times before my fingers and toes were starting to hurt so we turned around to head for warmth…

The Cold and Frosty Flatirons

The Cold and Frosty Flatirons

Mandy was disappointed when we started back to the car. She loves the snow and cold and could stay out all day…

Mandy Loves the Cold and Snow

Mandy Loves the Cold and Snow

It Feels So Good

It Feels So Good

After seeing our picture in the newspaper article the next day, several of my friends thought I was wrong to take Mandy out without boots on a cold snowy day. Have dogs become so domesticated that unlike their ancestor the wolf they now need boots?

Japanese researchers have recently uncovered the secret that protects dogs from getting cold when standing on frozen ground. Previous studies have found that dogs can stand on ground as cold as -31F/ -35C without the tissues in their feet freezing. This Japanese study entitled “Comparative Anatomy of the Vasculature of the Dog (Canis familiaris) and Domestic Cat (Felis catus) Paw Pad” is posted in the Open Journal of Veterinary Medicine.

In the dog’s paw pad, the veins surround and run parallel to an artery. Both are in intimate contact so that when the arterial blood flows into the pad surface the venous blood flowing out is in close thermal contact. This establishes a constant temperature difference between arteries and veins and makes for an effective heat exchange. In cold temperatures the warm arterial blood transfers its heat to the adjacent cool venous blood. In this way body heat is re-circulated back to the body core through the venous blood prior to losing heat to the environment. If a foot pad is in a warm environment the blood in that pad will be warm and the heat exchanger will have little effect. When the foot pad is exposed to a cold environment heat loss is prevented by essentially shutting off the paw heat. This means that Mandy has evolved to maintain a warm body and to tolerate cold paws during exposure to cold. Indeed, Mandy’s paws are supported by a circulatory heat exchange that evolved from wolves. This system is also found in penguins, arctic whales, seals and foxes. This discovery has the evolutionary implication that ancestors of the domestic dog lived in cold climates requiring such an adaptation. Sorry kitties but this adaptation does not apply to you. Perhaps your feline ancestors lived in warm climates.

Mandy deserves our envy, not our pity, in the cold. I wish my toes and fingers didn’t hurt on a day like this…

Snow billowing off of the Boulder Flatirons

Snow Billowing Off of the Boulder Flatirons

Super Cool Cloud Trapped In Boulder Forest

October 10, 2012

Low flying stratus clouds recently settled over Boulder. They were part of a cold front which dropped the temperature at night blanketing the area with supercooled drizzle. When the clouds finally departed Mandy and I left for an early post-drizzle walk on the Tenderfoot Loop Trail. We were hoping to see the first snow of the season on the Continental Divide.

On the way up Flagstaff Road we noticed flocked trees above the Flatirons

Dawn revealed flocking above the Boulder Flatirons
7 October 2012 @ 7:30am

Closer observation revealed that the flocking was a glaze of ice caused by freezing drizzle

Flocked Pine Needles

This glaze encapsulated grasses…

Glazed Grasses


Glazed Branches

And leaves…

Red Glazed Leaf

Glassy Leaf

As the sun reasserted its warmth the snagged cloud was liberated from ice back to water vapor so it could form rain again…

Mountain Mandy Sniffs A Snagged Cloud

On the way home we did catch some early snow on the Indian Peaks (as well as some liberated clouds). It’s a harbinger of frost to come…

First Snow Dusts the Indian Peaks

Boulder Fall Color Fades To White

October 29, 2011

Here on the front range of the Colorado Rockies the mountain peaks tower as much as 9,000ft/2743.2m above the Great Plains. The higher you climb the colder it gets. This temperature change, called the lapse rate, is 6.5 degrees Celsius per 1000 meters or 3.57 degrees Fahrenheit per 1000 feet. This represents a 32F/18C temperature gradient from peak to prairie. It is for this reason that the autumn hues start their descent from the high country tundra in early September and work their way down to the prairie by late October. Boulder Colorado is on the boundary (ecotone) between the mountains and the prairie and is located at the base of the foothills. This temperature gradient conveniently provides Boulderites with lots of time to savor the fall color season (and the spring flowers to come).

Our first major snowstorm arrived yesterday so I used this week to take some photos before and after the snowfall. The storm eventually left 10in/25.40cm of snow. The last of fall color, descended from the high country, has completed its journey and is now fading to white.


Fall Color On The Prairie Before the Storm


Snow Blankets the Prairie

Boulder’s iconic First Flatiron before…

Flatiron Color Captured 23 October 2011 Noon @ 39°59'40.74"N 105°17'14.46"W


Frosted Flatiron

One of my favorite Boulder fall hangouts is the South Mesa Trail. Mandy and I went there to capture the last hues before the snow quenches the color…

Mandy Takes a Colorful Break

The landscape changed the next day…

Mandy Chills Out

South Mesa offers great fall vistas…

Captured 19 Oct 2011 10:15am @ 39°56'25.45"N 105°15'36.88"W

The sumac (Rhus coriaria) was at its peak…

The Fall Sumac are Brilliant

South Mesa Sumac Vista

Today many of the brilliant leaves have fallen onto the snow…

Many of the Sumac Leaves Have Fallen

Even the remaining sumac seeds (drupes) are beautiful…

The Sumac's Fruit (Drupe)

Still many leaves remain forming the foreground for Devil’s Thumb and Boulder’s southern peaks…

Frosty Fall Wonderland

Soon the South Mesa sumac will be bare, its red hues fading to winter brown and white…

South Mesa Wintermoon Vista Captured 23 Feb 2010 9:07 am

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