This picture was not taken in Colorado. It was taken in the Pecos Wilderness area in the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico — just outside of Santa Fe as it happens. It is, however, a picture the Rocky Mountain Columbine, which, if I’m not mistaken, is the Colorado stat flower.

The Pecos Wilderness is wet, green and mountainous. It is also extremely beautiful. I took this picture on the first day of a recent backpacking trip. This flower was growing next to a stream deep in a forest of cottonwoods so thick that the rays of the sun could only be glimpsed at random moments. Moss hung from the trees like an alien infestation dropped from above. Thick foliage covered the ground and the sides of the mountain dropped off precipitously on one side and soared out of sight on the other.

That night we camped in a meadow at close to 11,000 feet. There was no sound of cars or airplanes. Just the sounds of the crepuscular wildlife and the complaints of sore shoulders.


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