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Not everyone has a chance to experience the wilderness as I have this season. I have had the opportunity and absolute privilege to see the Rocky Mountains of Colorado transition through spring, summer, and fall, with each transformation just as enchanting as the next.

The springtime was a cold one, with major snowfields and ice packed along the mountains. Original mountain trails were hard to see, so staying on the trail was a difficult task. I realized that many people start to hike these trails as soon as they notice the snow melting away, but they fail to realize that the trail is not melted. They are therefore forced to walk off-trail and harm water, soil, vegetation and wildlife. This unfortunate sight was contrasted by beautiful mountain views with snow-covered tops alongside the bloom of the pasque flower, the first flower of the season. The pasque is identified as a lavender bulbbed flower, with velvet like petals and stems.

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Summer was a dream on a good day, providing an explosion of color, fragrances and life. The tundra of the mountains was filled with many colors of grasses and wildflowers, beautiful insects of the Rocky Mountain Parnassians, camel crickets, and humming bird moths. The wildlife flourished along with the vegetation during this season, and I saw many marmots, pikas, bears, elk, deer, rabbits and mountain goats. Ospreys, alpine birds, ravens and other birds of prey were also abundant on our workdays. The down-side to summer was the monsoon rains, which made work very soggy and sometimes miserable. However, it kept the vegetation moist and lush. This life the mountain brought had an overall positive and harmonious experience.

Fall has been by far my favorite season to be on the mountain. Although I had to be cautious and prepared for weather, it provided the best views along the summit, and the air was clean and cool (which was good, because the colors of the Aspens took the breath right out of me!). Late summer and early fall also brought the wild edibles: Chanterelles, boletus, hawks wings, wild onions, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries were all great perks to a hard days work along the 14ers trails.

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This field season has been one that I will always remember. I have learned so much about respecting the various ecosystems among our great Rockies. I hope to pass along this knowledge so that those seasons on the mountain continue to live, remind and make aware of the earth and the circle of life.

 

Dana Young

I’m Dana Young, Seasonal Trail designer for CFI. I have been with CFI for four seasons and LOVE what I do. I get to spend a lot of time on the mountain observing the trails and assisting in designing sustainable trails for all to enjoy. I have lived in the high Rockies of Colorado for a little over 4 years, originally coming from the west coast. Although I do miss the ocean from time to time there’s nothing that will ever compare to these regal mountain tops.