It was March 16 of 2019 when I first heard of the ecological phenomenon known as a “super bloom,” an event that draws thousands to the desertscape of California.

Spurred by heavy winter rains and snow, a super bloom is a higher-than-normal growth of flowers in a natural area. As a result, flowers blanket hillsides, creating a patch of color visible from miles away.

When I came to Alaska from Oregon this past May to start my season working on trails for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the wildflower season was just beginning due to the heavy, long-lasting snowpack the state had received this past winter.

Driving along Sterling Highway, fireweed covered the base of mountains in vibrant pinks. When I started work on the refuge’s Hansen Horse Trail, located in the backcountry, lupines dotted the side of the trail, their purples contrasting the ground, still wet and dark from recent rainfall. I was experiencing my own backcountry super bloom.

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