I had the great pleasure to work with Bud Wobus and a group of alumni from Williams College this summer at The Nature Place, near Florissant, Colorado. We explored the geology and ecology of sites ranging from the Upper Sonoran Life Zone of Canon City all the way to the Arctic Alpine on Mount Sherman, west of Fairplay. In one day, we crossed Pikes Peak granite, Cripple Creek Granite, Wall Mountain Tuff, a massive lahar from the 39-mile volcanics, and more. Keeping track of it all wasn’t easy. Here are some highlights in photos.Wonders along the way were dramatic. This is probably only the second record from Teller County of the California tortoiseshell butterfly. Shelf Road.A pallid tiger moth still warming up to fly.
The pallid swallowtail, Papilio eurymedon, was lost in the wonder of a wet spot.The leach mining at Cripple Creek was of an unearthly scale.And from the Florissant Fossil Beds Quarry, we found a couple of these Curculionid beetles, along with lots of leaves and seeds…and a chipmunk family in the petrified stumps.Our group, above the Hole in the Rocks on Shelf Road. All brilliant, all fun.Crossbills, crossbills, crossbills everywhere.And the omnipresent golden-mantled ground squirrels.In the high country, Oeneis uhleri, Uhler’s arctic butterfly, hiding in the weeds.Pieris napi, the veined white.A day-flying moth, Schinia persimilis, in the Heliothine subfamily of Noctuidae.And Parry’s primrose below the alpine rockslides.This is a mere taste of Colorado’s wonders. If you haven’t been out west, you have a dream to live for. And, Williams people, I’ll send “Riding Out on the Lahar” by email. Other viewers here won’t know what the hell I’m talking about.