Sunday, July 21, 2013

Run for the hills!

Last week we had some dilly late afternoon storms.
I made sure I got myself in places where I could watch the lightening show with widows wide open to enjoy the thunder roars.
The air temperature often would drop by ten or fifteen degrees in just a few minutes.

One morning my high school classmate who lives in SLC posted a Facebook picture of the wild flowers in bloom up at Albion basin.
It was in the hot afternoon when I saw the photos.
I made a mental note to make sure I got up there to see the flowers before the summer wore on much longer.
The heat could fry them into straw at any time.
By five pm the sky was blackening with storm clouds over the mountains.
I decided to make a run up to the basin to see the flowers in the gold colored storm light.
The "dumb blond moment":
Instead of taking the road up to LITTLE Cottonwood Canyon, which ends up at Albion Basin, I took the BIG Cottonwood Canyon road instead.
The roads are both left turns, and I for some reason can't keep it straight in my mind which is which, and which leads to which ski resorts.
When I wound up in Brighton instead of Snowbird, I knew I had goofed up...again.

I debated whether it would be worth it to drive the 15 minutes back down the canyon, and the 30 more minutes to get up Big Cottonwood to see Albion.
While I was considering my options my eye caught the sign post for Guardsman's Pass, a switch back road that I have often driven to photograph aspen at sunset and fall color in the snow.
What the heck.  Maybe there would be something worth photographing in summer up that road too.

What do you think?
Something worth seeing?

I was thrilled!

I decided using my tripod was probably a bad idea as lightening was spangling the skies over the distant passes.

The wild flowers were blooming out of sight of the road; the steep switchback roadway down slope was only seen by looking over the edge of the road.

Bernie was out of town, still, on that day so I had sent him a text message that I was going up to Albion.
I had sent him photos of the flowers from my cell phone with the notation that I was on Guardsman Pass instead.
Figured someone should know where I was, even if that "someone" was on the east coast!
Aren't the storm clouds awesome?

Now the night before it had been raining in this area very hard.
The flowers fragrances were heady!

The scent of pine and mint filled my nose and my mouth...I could taste mint with every breath.
Somewhere in the flowers was horse mint or some other kind of very strong mint.

I confess...I was giddy.
I have heard ions in the air has that effect on people.
Add flower color and scent...I was bouncing!

(Lest you are concerned about me being out in the wild alone: there is my car and I never more than 30 feet away from my car.)

Bikers were riding past me the whole time.
(I wouldn't use a tripod due to the lightening, wonder what happens to those astride a metal bike in a lightening storm?  Glad I didn't have to find out.)

My classmate had posted her wild flower field photos with the catch phase "The hills are alive..."
Of course.
All of us who wander into flower covered hills have a hard time resisting the urge to throw out our arm and twirl ala  Julie Andrews in Sound of Music.
Her hills...had nothing on my hills.

OK....scroll through.


Love how the flowers are growing in stripes.
I think the seeds ran down along with the path of the water shed.

Eventually I pulled myself away from the wild flowers and finished the drive to the top of Guardsman's Pass.

The top of Guardsman's Pass.
The blackened sky was allowing only one shaft of sunlight to fall on the landscape.
Lightening bolts struck the valley below repeatedly.
All the dark green are aspen; this view in Autumn is awesome.

I wasn't the only one taking photos up there.
There were probably ten other cars and lots of hikers heading out (!!!!) up the mountain trails.

The Brighton ski resort ski run.
It was built in 1936, with tow ropes for the ski runs.
It is a great place to stay in the summer time too.

Turning around in the mountain top parking area, I headed back down the road.
My car windows were open and I was breathing in the fragrant minty air as deeply as I could.
When the sun shot spotlights down from the skies, I pulled over once again.

Three other cars pulled over; people flew out of the cars,  tossing camera straps over their heads and lifting cameras to their eyes as fast as they could.

You just never know how long scenes like this will last.

The agonizing part:  The streaks were occurring in a 180 degree line.
No one could get all of the amazing sky in a single photo.

I was switching between lens and even used my cell phone trying to capture as much as the sky as possible.

Eventually I pulled myself back into my car, convinced I had gotten the best shots of the sky show.
My cell phone rang; I pulled over again.
It was my friend Gail, asking what I was doing.
I was so giddy high from all the beauty I could hardly talk.
I tried to explain what I was seeing as she scrambled to fire up her computer to see the photos I had posted.
It is funny how often we call each other when one of us is in the middle of something wonderful.
Thank heaven for phones and photographs that sort of get to experience stuff like this together.

I drove back down Big Cottonwood, following the river.

It was good to see a new beaver lodge had been built.
The old one, (it was huge!) washed away awhile ago.

The lodge was upstream and across a meadow from the beaver dam.
I stopped and watched for awhile, hoping I would see a beaver at work.
No luck there.

I just know there is a family of beavers in there.

At the bottom of  Big Cottonwood there is a parking lot.
This sunset was what I was seeing straight ahead as I drove; the parking lot gave me my first chance to pull over to get a photo.
You can imagine how much I wanted to pull over!

When would the sunset peak?
I wasn't the only person filling up their camera with shots trying to catch the sunset at its peak.
I posted the shot above to my FB page, and emailed to Bernie to let him know I was down from the mountain.
A San Diego friend promptly posted the sunset she was seeing from her back yard over looking the Pacific Ocean.
"Not as good as your, Jill", she wrote.
"So I added a flag to the shot."
"We're having pizza and beer out on the deck" she added.
I didn't want beer, but pizza sounded good.
My next stop was one block from my home where I ordered a pizza and listened to the regular Wednesday night blue grass jam session by myself.
What a day.
Wish you all could have been there with me.
We could of winded up splitting that pizza!


Kathy ~ Artful Accents said...

Wow, these shots are absolutely beautiful!

Lorrie said...

I would have split the pizza with you. What an adventure. Gorgeous wildflowers and sky photos.

ellen b. said...

Oh my you hit the mother lode for sure! Glorious wild flowers and the sky views with the beams of sunlight are amazing.

Lovella ♥ said...

There is so much about this post that is amazing. I marvel at your independence to head up to the hills alone. I was silently wondering if you ever tell someone and then the next paragraph revealed that you thankfully do.
The wild flower photos are simply stunning. The rows of flowers like a master gardener put them there himself. Isn't it marvellous how God never tires of putting flowers and sunsets over and over again?

Vee said...

Fabulous photos! You're just about the bravest gal I know. Nope.You are.

Rosella said...

Wow!! What glorious beauty!! Those flowers look like they were professionally planted and cultivated. All by the Master's Hand! You captured it's beauty with your amazing photography. Thanks for taking us along.

Pondside said...

Breathtaking views, sky, mountains. I've never seen wildflowers like that - clumps here and there but never such profusion. I'll be you're glad you headed off on your own....though I'm glad you took precautions!

Judy said...

Definitely worth photographing! I think you wound up exactly where you were meant to be. Flowers and stormy skies and sunsets...beautiful photos all around. I would have gladly shared your afternoon drive with you...and the pizza to follow!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I love to come upon a bunch of wildflowers when I hike, but I've never seen the profusion of flowers that you captured on this mountain hillside, Jill! What a pretty array of flowers! You wouldn't know the name of the red ones by any chance, would you? I want to plant some hardy red perennials in my garden next year.

I love the storm and sunlight photos ..and the magnificent sunset. There is truly a unique type of beauty in the west!

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

The red flowers are called Indian Paint Brush. The flower comes in shades ranging from coral to pink to flame orange and deep red. Not a perennial but the flower seeds well and looks great with seeded lupin; western wildflower seed mixes typically include Paintbrush.

The flower has a great Indian legend associated with it. Every western school child learns it along the way. Google it!

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Oh, I wish I had been there! The colors are absolutely stunning, and so are your photos especially of the wild flowers . . . I just drank in one after the other. Such beauty.

Vicki said...

I have been looking at these photos for days and days. They are amazing, Jill!

"Going with you" up in the canyons and peaks brings back some great, fun memories!!