The Bridge of Flowers began life in 1908 as a bridge across the Deerfield River for trolleys connecting the Massachusetts towns of Shelburne Falls and Buckland. The trolleys eventually disappeared, but the bridge remained. It apparently could not be ripped down because a water main connecting the two towns was built into the structure. The bridge had become a rundown eyesore when an enterprising woman named Antoinette Burnham convinced the town to convert the structure into a flower garden in 1929. Since then the bridge has gone through restoration work and has been preserved until today it is a local tourist attraction.
The road over Kebler Pass is surrounded on either side by one of the largest groves of aspen trees in the United States. Individual aspen trees do not each have their own root systems. Aspen groves form what are called “clonal colonies” with all of the trees sharing a common root system that originates from a single parent tree. Individual trees rarely live to be more than 100 or 150 years old, but the root systems can live for thousands of years, allowing new trunks to grow as older trees die.
In the Fall, Colorado’s mountains literally glow with the golden colored leaves of the aspen trees as they fall and cover the ground. Driving over the pass in the second week of September, I was a couple of weeks early for Fall colors. Instead I had to endure late summer green against a sparkling blue sky. What hardship!
Kebler Pass is traversed by a mosly unpaved gravel road that runs westward from Crested Butte, Colorado, to Colorado State Highway 133, some 33 miles away. The trip is an easy one – the curves are gentle and the slopes are not steep. I got started driving up the pass at around 8 in the morning on another crystal clear Colorado day. The peak in the distance is Mt. Axtell.
Looking west and slightly north from the summit of Slumgullion Pass, this image shows Umcompahgre Peak in the distance. The 14,320 ft (4365 m) peak in the center of the photo is one of Colorado’s tallest mountains. It was after 5 in the afternoon when this photo was taken and, while the sun is not directly in my face, I am close enough to facing it that I could not get any details of the mountains in the distance. They become pale silhouettes washed out by the sunlight.
In the lower left of the image, you can see Colorado 149 as it descends from the pass, winding its way to Lake City. By the time I got to that point along the road, the sun was close to dipping below the mountains to the west. Not being especially interested in driving a winding mountain road in the dark, I cut short any stops to catch images at dusk and hurried to the end of highway 149 where it meets US Highway 50 not far from Gunnison, Colorado.
After leaving the Rio Grande River, the drive along Colorado 149 took me over Spring Creek Pass. At summit of the pass, I crossed the Continental Divide. Rivers on one side of the divide, like the Rio Grande, flow to the east, while rivers like the Colorado that originate on the other side of the divide head towards the Pacific Ocean.
This late afternoon image was taken along the side of the road as I descended from Spring Creek Pass. At this point, the road began to climb again and eventually took me through Slumgullion Pass, which at 11,360 ft (3463 m), was the highest point on my trip.