|"Bergen Peak Summer" Watercolor|
It’s a warm, summer day in Evergreen, Colorado where Elk Meadow is dry and yellow. Weathered ranch structures provide contrast with the profusion of fresh wildflowers.
The imposing Bergen Peak serves as a darkened background while low clouds drift across the shimmering, blue sky. At 9,200 feet, its lofty summit is a regional landmark.
People don't describe this mountain as awe-inspiring but the views from the top are. Bergen doesn't attain the same status as a fourteener and some even dismiss it as just another foothill.
The lovely crag is just down the street so I’ve spent lots of time on its steep slopes. Over the years I've learned not to underestimate the gentle giant because it can become quite surly.
The easy accessibility and excellent trail system make this park a local hot spot. During the summer, the paths are flooded with hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders.
The resilient mountain takes a beating from heavy usage but if you're not careful it’ll bite back. I've gotten sick from racing to the summit and taken some nasty falls while descending steep switchbacks.
I've gotten caught in the meadow by thunderstorms and have been nearly struck by lightning. One morning during the fall rut, I got chased off by a herd of irritable elk.
I now understand that when I'm on Bergen Peak the unstable terrain, abundant wildlife and unpredictable weather can transform an ordinary stroll into an exhilarating adventure.
Bergen Peak may not be the most beautiful mountain in Colorado but I always bring my camera. It's not the toughest to climb either but I always get my heart pounding.
Despite the chaos and crowds, if you know when and where to look, peace and solitude can always be found. Bergen Peak is definitely one of my favorite places in the Front Range to go hiking.