Sometimes I forget to post some of the amazing photos I make. Going through my photos from last year, I found another batch of them…of a truly amazing place here in Colorado. At the end of summer last year (2014), my brother and I took a drive up through the mountains along highway 285. Eventually 285 came up along side the North Fork of the South Platte River, where sheer rock faces plunged directly into the river. We stopped for a couple of photos of mossy cliffs and lone pine trees hanging over the racing waters.
After driving for a while, looking for a place to turn off into the mountains, we randomly decided on CR-60, or Hall Valley Road. This turn is just after the microtown of Webster, which is an open cluster of about six buildings and a couple of homes. Once on Hall Valley Road, you quickly notice that the river followed you up the mountain, and is running along next to your on your left. The whole area is packed with tight stands of aspen, many young, some older with more character.
After driving for only a few minutes, we found ourselves shrouded by trees and the river was right there, down a 20- to 30-foot slope off the side of the road. Once down the slope, we were hit by an incredible beauty. A brilliant rust-red river flowing over huge tables of rock in all shades of muted reds, oranges, yellows. The forest enclosed the river right up to it’s banks.
I decided to take my shoes off and wade to the other side with my camera, as the river was not particularly wide. Risky proposition, given the water was likely fed directly by snowmelt. Indeed it was, the water was freezing, and the rocks were rather slimy. I managed to make it across, and a few feet back from the water another highly vertical slope rose up in front of me behind the trees. Standing there, head crooked at an angle to see up the very steep slope, I was stunned by the beauty if it all…a wall of rock deeply covered in the most brilliant, vibrant mosses I think I’ve ever seen here in Colorado.
Moss is a common occurrence at lower altitudes, near the sea or other bodies of water, where atmospheric moisture is much more common. Here in Colorado, moss-covered cliff faces such as this are a rarer occurrence…and I am still shocked by the beauty of this place. Beyond moss, I love all the small details of the forest. The lichens and fungi in particular, as well as all the flowers. The area around the river was smothered in tiny details like that, from intriguing fungi like the reddish Elves Ears and bright yellow Coral fungus, to others I have yet to identify.
The area was covered in flowers and berries as well, with lichens hanging off of trees. Most of the floral photos were done by my brother, who is a fairly accomplished photographer himself.
Once you start looking in a place like this, you begin to find all sorts of interesting things. The elves ears and coral fungi were intriguing finds, adding interesting colors to a landscape otherwise plastered in a vibrant green. Looking deeper, however, you often find other unexpected things. These bullet shells, rusted and decaying, fit right into the landscape so well they were almost invisible, only to be found and photographed by my brother Greg:
Sometimes, just the forest floor itself is packed with interesting detail…mosses of a variety, lichens, decaying leaves or a stray pine seed adding a light touch of contrast to the fields of green.
Every nook and cranny in the forest has some interesting little detail…moss crawling up a crack in the rocks, a baby pine tree, the patchwork patterns of moss and lichen and rocks.
My brother has quite an eye for amazing textures, and his floral photos are exquisite. Here are a few more from him: