I was driving along the windy highway along Mesa Verde National Park’s North Rim on a glorious October morning. All the pieces were in place: clear, sunny, perfect Colorado high country blue sky.
Then I spotted a lone cottonwood tree along the roadway, its brilliant yellow fall foliage colors gently shimmering in the morning breeze.
Cottonwood trees are a water loving group of species. As in lots of water, all year around. Thus they typically grow along rivers, streams, in the bottom of valleys. Not way up on a mountain ridge like this one.
But this lone tree was way up here. There was a bit more of the mountain slope above the road, and this bend in the roadway must funnel enough water to this spot that a tiny cottonwood seed landed here and took root. With sufficient water down below, it took advantage of the full sunlight, growing far above the shrub-like Gambel Oak trees that are more typical of this steep, high slope.
Like most, in autumn I am drawn to forests, to stands of trees with superlative fall colors. But sometimes I come across a lone tree such as this that shines all by itself.
Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg