Friday, May 11, 2012

Signs of Spring in Boulder Mountain Parks

The Mountain Parks are finally showing more signs of spring. Only a few weeks ago, some of the higher elevations were still holding snow. None of the paper birches in Long Canyon had leaves when we hiked it. But things are changing quickly. I spotted this succulent hidden on a west aspect near Crown Rock:

Milk snake working it's way down the Viewpoint Trail:

Climbing temps: While Eldo and Flagstaff are already too hot for sunny climbing on some days, the glades on Dinosaur Mountain and other places in the Flatirons have a much cooler feel. Temperatures are still cool enough for harder routes, but puffy jackets are starting to disappear. Dinosaur Mountain has got such a great collection of climbs - here's a shot I snapped while rope-soloing on Der Zerkle before a workout on Square Rock:
The Silent Partner manages my rope on Jim Erickson's Final Solution

I feel like I'm stopping all the time for photos or just taking in some of the sights. Blue Mist Penstemon is in bloom on most of the mesas right now. Pasqueflower was blooming on many of the lower aspects of Boulder Canyon and Mt Sanitas a couple of weeks ago. The meadows are finally green again. But the biggest indicator that spring is definitely here? Late afternoon instability and thunderstorms are becoming more and more common. Late spring / early summer is generally a little better than late July through August, since the instability tends to develop later in the day, after we've exhausted ourselves and we're back home. On the right is a picture of some weather churning over Chautauqua Park and CU Boulder - I took this shot after climbing to the "rock park" on top of The Slab (for those unfamiliar, it's "The Great Wall" or the giant parallelogram Flatiron at the end of the North Shanahan Trail):

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