A few weekends ago, I ran up to the Bighorns for a quick weekend getaway. I had planned my first backpacking trip of the summer starting out from the Circle Park trailhead in the southeastern part of the range and drove up to near the trail head Friday after work to car camp before hitting the trail the next day. When driving in to Circle Park after sunset on Friday night, I could see in the twilight that the meadows were packed full of wildflowers and knew an early rise to shoot sunrise was in order. The 4:40 alarm came around way too soon but crawling out of my warm sleeping bag was surprisingly easy; I was excited to get out and check out all those wildflowers! Once up and about, I was bummed to see that not as much as a single cloud was in sight! Still, I can’t complain about how the sun back lit some of the taller flowers and made them appear to glow.
Posts Tagged With: Wildflowers
Casper Mountain rises just south of Casper, Wyoming but it may as well be a world away. Come June, town can get scorching hot and the vegetation can dry out pretty quickly. It is a border zone between the great plains to the east and the high deserts of the American West. I guess if you really pressed me, I’d say Casper is more high desert than plains, but nonetheless, it’s flat and pretty dry in the summer. But drive Casper Mountain Road south out of town and up 3000′ on top of Casper Mountain, a very different landscape awaits you. Much of the mountain is covered in forest but head all the way to the south side of the mountain and you will encounter a vast open area. In late June and early July, this area is blanketed with colorful wildflowers.
These photos are from two weeks ago when I headed up to catch a Friday night sunset. Wyoming had been getting pounded with thunderstorms for a couple weeks and this Friday was no different. Thunderstorms blew through town that afternoon and evening, but the weather forecast called for the storm to pass and the area was to clear up around sunset. I was excited at the prospect to have a chance at getting out of the house and not risk getting struck by lightning! Just in case the storm decided to stick around, when I grabbed my camera gear, I stuffed my rain jacket in my pack and was off. It turned out I didn’t need that jacket and instead enjoyed a fantastic sunset.
After just fifteen minutes of driving, I was on top of the mountain but realized June 5th was definitely a little premature for the full showing of wildflowers. My expectations were biased based on my visit up last summer at the end of June when the whole area was quite literally a carpet of wildflowers. The images don’t quite show it, but I had to hunt for good groupings of flowers and the ones that were out were not quite in full bloom. Still, I think I managed to find plenty of flowers that were out and photogenic!
As the storm dissipated the wind died down; a rarity in Wyoming! Because there was little wind and the flowers were not blowing all around, I took the opportunity to practice a “focus stacking” technique. Due to the optics of lenses and because some of these flowers were about a foot away from my camera when I took their picture, not all of the image could be in focus as once. For example, if I would focus on the flowers in the front, the mountain in the distance and sky would be blurry and just the opposite true if I focused instead on the distant mountain. So, I set my composition and took a series of frames focused at different points of the scene such that between all the frames, every bit of the composition was in focus. I later used a blending technique in Photoshop to combine all of those frames into one image! It’s not Photoshop trickery, it is just a method to overcome the limits of my camera; I actually described the process in a previous blog post.
I said it before and I will say it again, I’m super lucky and happy to have such an incredibly beautiful place practically out my back door. If you like the outdoors, there are few better places to live than Wyoming!
The Laramie Mountains of South East Wyoming are not well known to most people. They are not the high peaks of Colorado nor are they the strikingly rugged mountains such as the Teton Range and Wind River Range of western Wyoming. Despite the Laramie Mountains’ lowly status among the ranges of the Rocky Mountains, they should not be ignored. At the northern terminous of the Laramie Mountains is Muddy Mountain and Casper Mountain; two unassuming flat topped peaks that are below 9000′ in elevation. These unassuming peaks are just high enough to support large and incredibly beautiful stands of wildflowers; a large contrast to the dry basins that lie in every direction around the Laramie Mountains.
I missed the peak color of the Baslsamroot flowers and a couple of other dominant wildflowers you see in Wyoming, but I caught the lupines at their peak! One of my favorite things about living out West is that open space and incredible scenery of all types are just a short jaunt from my front door here in Wyoming. I can’t imagine calling anywhere but the American West my home!