Gothic in the summer

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A few years ago, visiting Gothic, CO and the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab for the first time after ending my stint as a winter caretaker there, I commented on this blog about how summer in the East River Valley overwhelms the senses.

During the winter, when I’d see photos of the area taken in summer, they’d seem fake. Too intense were the colors. They were photoshopped, subject to tacky HDR manipulation, I’d think, staring back out the cabin window at the monochrome sweep of snow and dark trees. But now, here in high summer, the dog days, I’m forced to eat my proverbial trucker’s cap. Turns out Crested Butte really is that spectacularly hued. The totality and depth of its greenness in July cannot be exaggerated. The aspens and skunk cabbage in their brief months of growth and glory. Emerald tundra draping itself around the last long fingers of solstice snow. Tourists with marijuana-themed shirts.

This summer, living 55 miles away in Paonia, I’ve spent a fair amount of time at RMBL — crashing on Peter’s floor, running, watching talks, running, giving a talk. (I also hopped into the Gothic 1/3rd Marathon unacclimated and ran :53 for 6th, a few minutes slower than 2014 but a nice kickoff to the next month of training in the high country.) None of which is as quite as good as living and doing research in this magical place, but given the constraints of my Ph.D., it’ll have to do for now.

One things for sure: my feelings on the colors of the Elk Mountains this time of year haven’t changed.

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June mornings at 9500′ can be a little chilly.

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Mt. Bellview (12,520′), myriad forbs.

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The Ruby Range from Beckwith Pass, in between Crested Butte and Paonia.

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