It’s been funny weather up here in the high country lately. Where we live at 10,000 feet, it has been snowing fat, clumpy, wet flakes for days. Then yesterday, late morning, I headed to Frisco through pouring rain to survey some trails.
At my first stop, it was snowing and blowing and cold, so I donned my coat and hat before poking around. There were big snow patches across the trail and not too much in the way of edible spring growth. But then at the second and third stops—both uphill hikes through trees—it was warm enough that I had to shed both, and the sun peeked out, sending rays of dappled light to illuminate the freshly sprinkled plants.
I found spring—and the best diversity of edible, wild, high country plants—at Meadow Creek Trail #33 in Frisco, accessed from the I-70/Highway 9 traffic circle. It’s a somewhat strenuous uphill hike that takes you through an aspen grove to Lilly Pad Lake if you go far enough. I’d almost skipped it, not relishing the idea of hiking up, up, up, but then made a last minute decision to stop anyway. I was happily surprised to find so many of my wild edible friends had sprouted—some “wild” in the sense of native plants that belong to the forest, and others introduced species gone wild but growing in such a healthy state that they looked good enough to eat.
Incidentally, I didn’t eat or collect any plants. If I had it would have been just a handful anyway, for personal use, in accordance with the National Forest’s Incidental Use Policy. Rather I was there to look and listen, to witness firsthand nature’s shedding of her winter cloak. I can eat the plants another day—when they’re ready and I’m ready too.
It’s mud season in the high country right now, so Meadow Creek Trail, listed as “Medium” traffic usage by the Forest Service, was solitary and quiet, save for one family I encountered on the way down. I only hiked about 45 minutes up the trail (stopping to peer at plants, mind you).
Below is an annotated picture gallery (click the thumbnails) of some of the plants I saw. If you’re local and reading this I figure you might enjoy a hike up that trail yourself, to look at plants. If you’re new to this, study up and then come to my wild edible hike with Colorado Mountain College on Saturday, June 8!
And now the obligatory caution: If you don’t 100% know a plant, don’t put it in your mouth. There are poisonous plants out there. Thanks.
Also, I’m interested to hear what you think of this post if you have a second, as I haven’t done a picture gallery here at WFG before.