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Bluebird Lake

The trail from the Wild Basin Trailhead [at left on the map view which looks from north to south, and at right in the elevation profile] rises from 2589 m [8,494 ft] to 3340 m [10,958 ft] over a length of about 6.4 miles to Bluebird Lake [at right on the map].

First stop of the morning at Calypso Cascades, 1.9 miles up the trail.

First stop of the morning at Calypso Cascades, 1.9 miles up the trail.

The Calypso Cascades from another perspective.

The Calypso Cascades from another perspective.

Blue Columbine, Aquilegia caerulea, state flower of Colorado.

Blue Columbine, Aquilegia caerulea, state flower of Colorado.

Blue Columbine, Aquilegia caerulea, state flower of Colorado.

Blue Columbine, Aquilegia caerulea, state flower of Colorado.

Ouzel Falls, 2.7 miles in.  The trail crosses Ouzel Creek just below the falls, but the wooden bridge was carried away in the deluge of September 2013.

Ouzel Falls, 2.7 miles in.  The trail crosses Ouzel Creek just below the falls, but the wooden bridge was carried away in the deluge of September 2013.

New i-beams and decking planks positioned for a rebuild of the bridge to cross Ouzel Creek.

New i-beams and decking planks positioned for a rebuild of the bridge to cross Ouzel Creek.

Isolation peak in the distance.  Below it lies Bluebird Lake.

Isolation peak in the distance.  Below it lies Bluebird Lake.

Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja integra.

Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja integra.

Copeland Mountain, whose smooth brow yields to a very rugged northwest face.

Copeland Mountain, whose smooth brow yields to a very rugged northwest face.

Dead giant.

Dead giant.

Five Stamened Mitrewort, Mitella pentandra.  Saxifrage family.

Five Stamened Mitrewort, Mitella pentandra.  Saxifrage family.

Five Stamened Mitrewort, Mitella pentandra.  Saxifrage family.

Five Stamened Mitrewort, Mitella pentandra.  Saxifrage family.

Spring Beauty, Montia chamissoi.

Spring Beauty, Montia chamissoi.

American Globeflower [buttercup family], Trollius laxus.

American Globeflower [buttercup family], Trollius laxus.

Lots of Glacier Lilies in bloom at around 10,000 feet.

Lots of Glacier Lilies in bloom at around 10,000 feet.

Glacier Lilies, Erythronium grandiflorum.

Glacier Lilies, Erythronium grandiflorum.

American Globeflower, Trollius laxus.

American Globeflower, Trollius laxus.

The head of St. Vrain Creek as it emerges from a snow bank below Bluebird Lake.

The head of St. Vrain Creek as it emerges from a snow bank below Bluebird Lake.

A cascade disappears beneath the snow.

Bluebird Lake, elevation 10,978 ft.

Bluebird Lake, elevation 10,978 ft.

Small monsters

From eggs 2 or 3 mm in diameter to caterpillars the size of your forefinger in 6 weeks, the growth of the large silk moths is prodigious.  The changes in size and coloration of the caterpillars are remarkable, but nothing as completely transformative as their progression from caterpillar, to dormant pupa, to a moth bigger than your hand.

These are images of the development of the Cecropia moth, Hyalophora cecropia,  North America's largest.

From eggs that were laid on 19 May, these tiny beings emerged:

Eggs.

Eggs.

First instar hatchlings.

First instar hatchlings.

Feeding on nothing but lilac leaves, they have gone through three molts and have increased in size by a factor of about 40 in about a month.

First instar caterpillar 6 days after hatching.  Skin is stretched, giving the caterpillar the appearance of a spikey hotdog.

First instar caterpillar 6 days after hatching.  Skin is stretched, giving the caterpillar the appearance of a spikey hotdog.

Second instar after skin has dried and colors have stabilized 16 days after hatching.  

Second instar after skin has dried and colors have stabilized 16 days after hatching.
 

Third instar caterpillar feeding on a lilac leaf, 26 days after hatching. 

Third instar caterpillar feeding on a lilac leaf, 26 days after hatching. 

Nine days after hatching, this caterpillar has shed its skin and is now called a "second instar" caterpillar.

Nine days after hatching, this caterpillar has shed its skin and is now called a "second instar" caterpillar.

This caterpillar has just shed its skin and become a third instar, 18 days after hatching,  The caterpillars typically turn around and eat their cast-off skins within an hour or so of  moulting.

This caterpillar has just shed its skin and become a third instar, 18 days after hatching,  The caterpillars typically turn around and eat their cast-off skins within an hour or so of  moulting.

Close-up of the colorful tubercles that serve as defensive weapons against potential predators.

Close-up of the colorful tubercles that serve as defensive weapons against potential predators.

Twenty-six day-old third instar caterpillar.

Twenty-six day-old third instar caterpillar.

Thirty-one days after hatching, this caterpillar has just become fourth instar.  The area surrounding the spiracles on the sides through which the caterpillar respires have turned white and there are other subtle changes in color and appearance.

Thirty-one days after hatching, this caterpillar has just become fourth instar.  The area surrounding the spiracles on the sides through which the caterpillar respires have turned white and there are other subtle changes in color and appearance.

A third-instar caterpillar of the Cecropia moth, Hyalophora cecropia, sheds its skin.

A close-up from the side reveals the single hooks on each of the six "true" legs [these will become the legs of the adult moth], and rippled edges of the blue pads at the bottom of the thick prolegs.  At left just under the green plant stem can be seen the caterpillar's head and the notched labrum whose inverted "V" shape guides the caterpillar's mouth along the edge of a leaf as it eats.

A close-up from the side reveals the single hooks on each of the six "true" legs [these will become the legs of the adult moth], and rippled edges of the blue pads at the bottom of the thick prolegs.  At left just under the green plant stem can be seen the caterpillar's head and the notched labrum whose inverted "V" shape guides the caterpillar's mouth along the edge of a leaf as it eats.