It’s true our Rocky Mountain summer started out hot and dry. Now in August, the dryness has been moderated by seasonal monsoonal thunderstorms and occasional day long drenches, but temperatures are still higher than normal. Wildflowers in the Rockies can be awesome. The displays mimic the current climatic conditions, of course. There are feast and famine years, so typical of the intermountain west. We can have totally different climatic features east and west of the Continental Divide, as well. This year, east of the Divide, we had decent snows until spring, when it turned unseasonably hot. West of the Divide, it has been terribly dry since autumn. As a result, finding mountain wildflower meadows has been a challenge this summer. The blooming season began a full month early, and now, by August, it is suddenly green, but still fall-like in the high country.
We had been amazed and excited to find the flowery fields of Loch Lomand (see my previous entry). As a result, I wanted to hike in the same general area the very next week in early July. We chose a drainage just one over from the Loch Lomand glacial valley: the valley of Chinns, Sherwin and Slater Lakes. Normally, hiking to the highest lake would be a deep snow post-hole experience in early July. Slater Lake, in particular, generally has its best wildflower show fairly late in August. Not this year. The second week of July was peak!
I hiked in with a friend and her son and our Samoyeds. Our goal was to add packing points to our dogs’ working certificates, to photograph the dogs, and to photograph water and wildflowers. The “trail” is actually an old water storage road used to build and maintain the diversion dams on the upper Fall River drainage. 4-wheelers use these roads to get in for fishing and car camping, primarily. As a result, the roads are in terrible shape, only really advisable for high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicles. My little Rav4 made it in a ways. When I was sure I’d lose my oil pan, we stopped and parked, and hiked on up the road. We had a couple of miles on loose rock road, until getting to Sherwin Lake, where the trail begins upward to Slater Lake, the true destination of the trip.
The following photos show the details of our journey: