On maps it is called Rabbit Mountain, a sloping hill about twenty minutes north of Boulder. But when the interpretive kiosks mentioned this mountain’s habit of walking—three miles away from its companion foothills over recent eons, thanks to a maze of small seismic faults in the area—I was hooked on its other name. A walking mountain. Cool.
We headed out one morning this week, our lunches packed, to enjoy warm sunshine while we could. (In Colorado, March warmth may not last long; a foot of snow can follow within hours.) The air was hazy, but a little ways up the Eagle Wind Trail, the snowcapped peaks of the Continental Divide became visible:
Rocks decorated richly with lichen kept us company, along with prickly pear plants newly fattened with moisture after their winter survival act of withering almost to nothing. In another couple months they’ll be bursting with yellow flowers.
We were hoping to see wildflowers. It was, after all, the first week of spring! The earliest flowers would appear on south-facing slopes, which meant we’d have to head to the far, south end of this four-mile loop. This was a birthday hike, and I felt lazy. Surely there would be a few wildflowers before we reached the far end.
About a mile into the hike, we stopped for lunch next to a grizzled pine that for many years now has been resisting the wind’s efforts at uprooting. From its twisted and exposed roots it reclines along the ground, resting the bulk of its weight on the earth while its branches and needles look fresh and lively. The sumac bush in the foreground is just now springing fresh green leaves:
After lunch, because we’d seen no wildflowers yet, we decided to go for it—we’d commit to the full four miles. Some splendidly painted lavender and purple rocks surprised us near the far end of the loop:
We were rounding the turn now. Would there be no wildflowers? I had my eyes fixed on the horizon when I heard my sweetie behind me: “What have we here?” There they were, nestled close to the ground, some early Easter daisies, also called Townsend’s daisies (Townsendia hookerii):
Followed soon after by some spring beauties (Claytonia lanceolata):
Ahhh! The first wildflowers of the season. I could go home happy.
By afternoon the air had cleared, and the far side of the loop brought us some expansive views of Longs Peak (14,259′) and Mount Meeker (13,911′) , just a dozen miles away as the crow flies. The Arapaho people who lived here called these peaks the Twin Guides because they were used to guide travelers home to this area. The two are so close that it has never made sense to me why their English names are not more closely related. Twin Guides it is:
The day was complete. We were nearly out of water. Bodhi had stopped pulling forward excitedly and was now stopping to rest every chance he got. We took a quick breather in the shade before heading down to the car and home. Here we are, on my fifty-fourth birthday: