The first image below is of Pigeon Peak, taken from the train
going from Durango to Silverton. Pigeon Peak is a majestic
mountain. It is one of the Centennial Thirteeners. The
fourteeners and thirteeners over 13,800 feet make up Colorado's
100 highest peaks. Pigeon rises to an altitude of 13,972 feet,
missing being a fourteener by only 28 feet. The more distant
peak in the image to the right of Pigeon is Turret Peak at
13,835 feet. Out of the picture farther to the right would be
Mount Eolus at 14,083 feet. Beyond Eolus loom Sunlight and
Handies, two more Colorado fourteeners. My elevation in
this shot is approximately 7,500 feet.
The West Needle Group is awesome to behold from the train and
photographs, no matter how accomplished the photographer, do not
do justice to what the eye beholds. It is a matter of scale.
Grand nature panoramas such as what one sees on the ride must
be experienced. They cannot be squeezed into an image that fits
on a computer screen. Too much is lost. Nonetheless, we try.
On the way to Silverton, t he railroad passes between the West
Needle Group and the Grenadiers. The second picture shows
Mount Garfield in the Grenadier Range. The prevalent tree
species in both photos include ponderosa pine, blue spruce,
Englemann spruce, Doug fir, aspen, and narrow lead cottonwood.
The ponderosas drops out at somewhere around 8,500 and 9,000
feet. However, the narrow leaf cottonwood, hugging the river
banks, continues on past 9,000 feet. That came as a surprise to
me. It is a hardy species.