South with the Upslope

Yesterday morning, as a cold, north wind raked the Front Range urban corridor, sweeping snow flurries across Metro Denver, I headed south, climbing through the Plum Creek Valley toward the Palmer Divide.  Once I reached the elevation that supports ponderosa pine woodlands (about 7000 feet), I pulled off along a scenic, tree-lined meadow, backed by the Front Range foothills.

The meadow grass rippled in the strong wind as waves of low clouds and fog drifted in from the north, unleashing swirls of snow as they pushed into the foothill canyons.  Between these swaths of precipitation, bright sunshine lit the scene, belying the chilly air; during one of those sunny interludes, a golden eagle circled overhead and a flock of mountain bluebirds, just back from the Southern Plains, worked their way across the meadow.

Before I left my lofty perch, the snow intensified, dusting the pines and grassland, and upslope fog enveloped the valley.  Then, as I descended toward Denver, I dropped below that upslope haze, the skies cleared and March seemed to re-emerge from a brief but invigorating bout of winter.