The day after Buffalo Mountain, my father and I drove the scenic road up to Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide, here the long distance trail: the Continental Divide Trail crosses the road and runs up and over tall grass covered and rock strewn peaks. The trail is deceivingly long, as one assumes that by merely glimpsing it, it can't be too long, however, being above treeline, this trail is in actuality snaking the ridge for miles.
|trail en route to Mt. Sniktau|
Standing atop the 13,000ft Mt. Sniktau, we could see 14,000ft peaks in the distance and the deep river cut (and highway cut) valleys below, thick with blueberry bushes, Indian Paintbrush and Mountain Bog Gentian. At our feet we passed Alpine Pussy Toes, Lanceleaf Stonecrop, Yarrow-oh so much of this here and everywhere - Gold Aster, Lyall's Goldenweed, Dusky Beardtongue, American Bistort and Whiproot Clover. Just below and above us were flat white snowfields perfect for skidding across.
|Whiproot Clover (Trifolium dasyphyllum): this plant liked to grow in thick mats just underneath and alongside rocks on the grassy mountaintops|
|snow surfing on Mount Sniktau|
|Alpine Spring Beauty (Claytonia megarrhiza): The leaves of this plant were very fleshy and succulent, quite different from the delicate leaves of Spring Beauty or Carolina Spring Beauty we know in our Western NC mountains.|
|Alpine Spring Beauty flower: the 5 pink veined petals and conspicuous stamens do bear a resemblence to our eastern Spring Beauty|
|standing atop Mt. Sniktau|