Iron Mountain in bloom

June 29, 2014.

7.8 mi | 1900′ ele. gain | 5 hrs.

Lots of people say things like “that looks like fun! We should go hiking sometime.” But very few actually follow through. Lauretta, on the other hand, was all in. “Let’s do it! Early start, no problem!” Sweet. I had a hiking buddy.

I’d heard about the amazing wildflower blooms on Iron Mountain. That’s why most people went there. I had not actually ever timed a hike for wildflower season, so I thought this was a great opportunity. I had hoped to find a big bang-for-the-buck hype to share with my friend (so that she’d want to go hiking with me again!).

On a chilly, foggy summer morning, we headed out to Tombstone Pass. We were the second car in the lot. Everything was blanketed in a thick mist. I had high hopes for a quiet and scenic day.

Right off the bat we saw some wildflowers in the woods. I had no idea what they were, but they were pretty. The real show didn’t begin until the first outcrop, with clusters of purple, yellow and white blooms bursting from the ground. There were succulents and cat’s ear lilies, among many other delicate flowers.

As we continued to Cone Peak meadows, the flowers just kept coming. A layer of thick fog hung low over the meadow, but the moisture only helped to bring out the colors of each blossom. Red paintbrush here. White clustered dangly bells there. Perfect baby blue elementary school flowers there. Can you tell I don’t know my flowers all too well? Regardless I bet you can close your eyes and picture the scene. If not, here’s some help:

And oh, bestill my heart, the stonecrop. Something about these crawly little plants takes my breath away. Whether it’s the thick, fleshy leaves, the brilliant yellow flowers, the way red fades into green, or the sprawling nature of the stems…I am just enamored with these things. They grew profusely along the ground and I was in heaven.

Nearing the top of Iron Mountain, plants clung to life on the cliffy pinnacles. Monkeyflower flashed its fuschia underbite along the mountainside. Bonsai-looking evergreens twisted and turned towards the sky. Yeah, I understand why people flock here in spring.

Patches of blue interrupted the puffy white clouds. We enjoyed some moments of sun and then finished the loop back to the car. By the time we returned there were several more cars in the lot. They’d get nicer weather, but less dramatic floral displays.

I hope to hike with Lauretta again. It was a fun day, and worth the early wake-up.


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