I walk through the seasons, stepping backward in time the higher that I climb. It's late June, past the solstice. The calendar says summertime but as I walk the seasons unwind. Every forty steps up I lose a day. Summer soon gives way to spring. I hike through a meadow, sunlight glows through lupine blooms along a stream. The water pours down the mountainside, and so do thousands of wildflowers. I follow the stream up. The flowers thin. Here the lupines have buds, but no blooms. I've reached the beginning of spring. I climb higher. The stream disappears under a bank of snow. I've walked out of spring and stand in winter.

Grand Tetons, Wyoming. Lupine and Balsam Root Flower filled meadows.

In the mountains the seasons are a place as much as a time. When I returned to the Tetons this year I wanted to be able to make photos with spring wildflowers in the foreground to compliment the beauty of the snow capped range. Even if I couldn't find the flowers in one location I knew it was just a matter of climbing until I found the spring view that I wanted.

Grand Tetons, Wyoming. Elf cows and calves finish eating at the end of the night and head off to sleep through most of the day.

Early one morning I started a long hike up a mountain. High up the mountain I could see a waterfall surrounded by balsam root blossoms just below the snow line. At the lower elevations the pines were full of elk sign. I walked on the trails made by the elk and stayed in the shadows until I ran out of trees. In the shade of the last tree I stopped and photographed cow and calve elk as they flowed past me, heading for dark places to bed down for the day.

Grand Tetons, Wyoming. Balsam Root blossoms fronting the Grand Teton range. A walk starting here takes you from summer, through spring, up to winter.

Hours later, having walked through the seasons, I passed by the same spot on my way down the mountain, stopped under the tree, and looked out over the meadow. I closed my eyes and thought about all I'd seen, and imagined sitting there with enough patience to watch the seasons flow up and down the mountain.

Charles St. Charles

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