i.e. Stop and Smell the Roses – or maybe the Columbines
I wrote an earlier post on “What is a Hike?” It has a bit of humor and a bit of reality. The Urban Dictionary has lots of definitions, like “Hiking is like walking, but with lifting the knees up more than one would with a walk.” And then there is Hippocrates who said, “Hiking is a man’s best medicine.”
But beyond the fitness and wellness benefits, I found that when I’m totally in the present, I see things I would have missed if I was just trying to power up a hill at maximum speed. The real fun of a hike comes from connecting with the natural surroundings. Here are a few ways to engage with the environment more while on a hike.
There are many handbooks with photographs that help to identify wildflowers, and in some cases they also include some pretty interesting facts. However, using a handbook is tedious – even if it’s organized by color or another feature. If you are within cell phone range, Google now has a magical feature called Google Lens that will identify a wildflower with two taps on the smart phone. There are also other similar apps that can help you identify flowers.
You may already know what these are, but let’s say we didn’t. If we are paying attention as we hike along, we are arrested by the beauty of these flowers in such a lovely natural setting.
We take out our phone and fire up Google.
Notice the icon to the left of the microphone icon. That is Google Lens. Tap it – (the first tap):
That will start up the phone’s camera. Aim at the flowers, and tap the magnifying glass icon (the second tap) …
… on the bottom of the screen, voila! You see that this is the Colorado Blue Columbine.
We knew it was a columbine, didn’t we? But did we also know this very Colorado Blue Columbine is the State Flower of Colorado as declared in the year 1899? We are looking at history right there in its native beauty and setting. This flower (technically Aquilegia coerulea, in the buttercup family) is native to the Rocky Mountains and despite its delicate appearance, thrives in elevations from 7000 to 12,000 feet!
Now I find that pretty interesting, don’t you?
I was hiking along on the way up a mountain near a stream of snow-melt runoff.
I looked up and felt like Rick in Wonderland. Did someone plant those flowers to be so color coordinated? Did that someone know I graduated from the University of Michigan (go Maize and Blue!)? That sight was clearly worth stopping for, thinking about the natural art that is found in nature – and surely taking a photo.
Views like these could make a non-photographer like me pretend I’m a pro. Even without classes or a fancy camera, I’ve found it’s worth opening my eyes further to other photo opportunities.
On another hike in the southwest part of Colorado, I looked west, and this is what I saw:
Clearly that must be either a painting or a professional photograph from Shutterstock or Getty Images! No, just me and my point and click camera. These days I am looking for the shot and finding it – whether it’s a macro shot like this one or a micro shot of a bee on a flower, photography has become one of the fun parts of a hike or climb.
And there are more ideas to come.