Following the Flowers North

Lupines on a mountain hillside.

I have always wanted to see wildflowers blooming in profusion in the mountains.  Because the growing season is extremely short, Alaska, Canada and the northern U.S. have brilliant flower displays with all the flowers seeming to bloom at the same time and covering entire mountain hillsides. (Hover over the pictures to see the flower name.)

Timm and Darby amongst yellow Arnica (from the sunflower family) and Labrador Tea.

We traveled north in what seemed like perfect synchronization with spring, as spring also moved north. We hiked in southern Canada in the Canadian Rockies in May.  As spring moved north, so did we.  We spent June in northern Canada.  Then, we traveled farther north into Alaska in July and spring accompanied us there as well.

We watched the flowers bloom all along our route.  Roadside flowers, mountain flowers, valley flowers.  All the colors of the rainbow in hundreds of hues.  So many different purples fading into blues.  Pure whites and whites with pink tints.  Reds, oranges, yellows, some soft and subtle, others shockingly florescent. 

Labrador Tea, used by the Athabascan people to make... well... tea!

Monkshood, an easy one to remember because it looks just like its name. Oh, and it's deadly poisonous!

Chocolate Lily, a rare brown flower with a distinctly bad smell which is why it's also called Skunk Lily

Western Columbine, grows in forest glades and meadows, a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Twinflower, a creeping evergreen from the honeysuckle family

Old Wold Swallowtail butterfly sits gracefully on an Arnica flower.

No master gardener can equal nature’s skill in creating the most beautiful hillside flower garden, complete with butterflies, bees and birds enjoying the bounty of nectar provided.  The fragrance wafts to and fro in the wind, as the waves gently roll over the fields of flowers.

Arctic Lupine, comes in many varieties such as Artic Lupine, Yukon Lupine and Nootka Lupine, each with a different habitat (sandy soil, mountainous regions, etc.)

My favorite wildflower is the artic lupine.  Like an old friend, it travelled north just ahead of us, as if to ready the way.  On each new hike, the artic lupine welcomed us and graced our path with it’s beauty.  When I’m old and gray, reliving memories of this trip, I will remember best the magnificent wildflowers in all their simplistic splendor.  Especially the lupines.

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