Winter Flora Along Trails at Calhan Paint Mines in Colorado

We walked among a very dry landscape at the close of winter and the beginning of Spring.

Its stark beauty is quite different from what we would have seen in the summer at the Calhan Paint Mines.

Colorado Paint Mine TrailsSome trails led off onto the prairie, others took us above the formations and the final part of our journey took us deep into the fragile formations.

All along the trails we saw the remnants of plants that had turned dry and golden over the winter.

Golden Plant in Calhan Paint Mines

The had a beauty quite different than the mountain trails we had been hiking recently.

Many had held on to their leaves that dried as if in an oriental flower arrangement waiting to be set upon a table.

Golden Beauties at Calhan Paint Mines

A few had some bright red berries and branches mixed among the golden flowers of an neighboring plant.

Some were accents to the prairie that spread before them, others pointed to the distant formations we would walk among later.

All had intriguing shapes that lent themselves to being very photogenic

Fuzzy Brown Plants at Calhan Paint Mines

And then there were the cactus . . .

Wicked Cactus at Calhan Paint Mines

Wickedly spiny and not everywhere, so we were sometimes surprised to see them on the side of the trail, and helped keep us on the trail.

But Cactus grow all over in Colorado, so we should always be on the look out for not stumbling into them.

Red Cactus at Colorado Paint Mines

Some were actually greeting the spring with new growth and red, red centers.

We were thinking they must know something we didn’t about the time of year. And as they had probably lived here for decades, they could tell it was time to come back from their winter hibernation.

There was this very fast moving Caterpillar who challenged me to capture him as he dashed through the dry branches and leaves on the trail.

Caterpilar at Calhan Paint Mines

The red on his fuzzy black body gave him away as he swiftly moved in front of us, then disappeared into an unseen tunnel and headed underground.

The white formation seemed to be waving to us when we walked past it where more dried plants were silhouetted against its neighboring formations.

Final Farewell to Calhan Paint Mines

And the odd red rock was hanging out on the cliff nearby.

Each element along this area of the trail seemed unique and had no connection. Yet there they were all together.

And as a final post for this area, I can’t forget how fun the clouds were.

Two playful creatures floated above the trail.

Clouds above Calhan Paint Mines

Laughing and playing together above the vast stretch of prairie below.

Just as my hiking partner and I were joyfully enjoying each new vista and the unusual plants and colorful formations that greeted us all hike long.


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