This past weekend, I headed up to the Brainard Lake recreation area in the Indian Peaks wilderness. The Indian Peaks are part of the continental divide, with most of them over 13,000 feet high. To the north, it runs right into Rocky Mountain National Park, where a majestic series of 14,000+ foot mountain peaks stretch out in an amazing vista. My visit this weekend aimed to get some morning sunrise photos of the mountains over Long Lake (which is situated just above Brainard Lake), with the ultimate goal of capturing a beautiful lightly clouded scene with alpenglow on the peaks. Well, a landscape photographer is really at the mercy of whatever light occurs, and the lighting in the mornings was rather bland. No clouds in the sky, haze to the east that diffused the sunrise and eliminated any chance of capturing the kinds of mountainscapes I was looking for.
Nevertheless, the trip was still a success. While hiking a trail along the southern side of Long Lake, I heard some water and decided to investigate. Before reaching the creek, I began to notice the detail and complexity of the forest floor dwellers: Moss, Lichen, Fungi, and a variety of other small plants. When you stand and observe for a time, you begin to notice how much diversity there is in a forest. Within a small 25 square foot area, no more than a few inches off the ground at most, I found a huge diversity of organisms that fueled the cycle of life and death on the forest floor. A wide range of mushrooms of all sizes and types. Mosses of a considerable variety. Tiny lichens stretching their half-inch spires towards the very distant sky. All in a host of colors, from red to yellow, to many shades of green, to white and brown.