Loveland Pass - West

June 21st, 2017

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Loveland Pass - west
Round Trip, 3 miles.

Trail west of Loveland Pass.

Looking back to the pass and Torrey's
and Gray's in the background.

Ridge line and trail.

If the past rambles were about seeking truth - then this one is about seeking beauty. Okay, maybe the past ones were only tangentially related to truth, but today's ramble is still focused on beauty. It is a simple, non-athletic walk across an alpine meadow.

Once again I started at Loveland Pass, this time heading west. If you go east, like I did three days ago, there is a 900 foot climb in about two-thirds of a mile to a peak, and a hundred people attempt this every day. If you go west the summit is only 500 feet up, and only a third of a mile away. I saw six people climb to that apex, and nobody beyond it. Yet it is almost the same stunning view. Why we choose to do what we do is hard to explain.

Across a few snow fields and then an alpine garden of minute flowers. At the end of an hour, proceeding at a birder's pace, I came to a minor summit on which a wind shelter had been build of stone. It was a small shelter, enclosed on but three sides, and in the middle a slab had been leveled to form a seat. The whole shelter was really no more then a stone throne with space for one. But since I happened to be but one, it fit me perfectly.

Out of the wind, and in the warm sun, I sat awhile gazing at the mountains. Perhaps the view even exceeded that from the other side of the pass, for in the foreground are Cupid, Grizzly, Torrey's and Gray's. It is a dreamlike day and I may even have dozed for awhile.

But this is the day I planned to spend some time on my hands and knees studying the mountain bouquet. Garden as I want to call this place, it is not lush. On the ridge line itself, being on hands and knees means crawling on gravel. When I look between the flowers there is only broken rock and it is hard to imagine that there are enough nutrients for these delicate flowers.

A few meters off the ridge, much of the ground is covered with a thin layer of dirt and grass. It's not too hard to envision how that dirt, somehow, was formed higher up and then washed down the slope and collected here.

On the ridge there is a constant wind. But off the ridge there are sheltered places where the air can get thick with the heady smells of the meadow. The smell of sage is strong and there is a suggestion of something else, perhaps related to lavender?

And why am I going to walk back? The day is delicious right here, right now in the sun. But I am sure that there is a good reason and so I shoulder my bag and head back to the pass.