Celastrina Butterfly in the Black Canyon!?

Celastrina 2013 084

My husband Chris and I were trying to think of an off the beaten path spot for our 4th of July getaway. We recently bought a Sea Eagle inflatable kayak and we were itching to try it out on a multi-day trip. We chose Morrow Point Reservoir which is just below Blue Mesa Reservoir (the largest body of water in CO) down near Gunnison, CO. Morrow Point Reservoir is about 12 mi long and winds through the head end of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. Only hand carried boats are allowed at Morrow Point- plus the 235 steps you have to carry your boat down to the water assured us there wouldn’t be many, if any, other campers.

We were off! We had our gear in dry bags strapped to the boat, food to last us a few days and a thirst for adventure!

Canyon Shot 2013 172We read there were three or four water accessed campsites, but two of them were still within the few miles the pontoon tour boat travels before it turns around.

We pushed a few miles past the tour boat’s buoy marker and the campsite that awaited us was one of the most beautifully serene places I have ever had the good fortune to stay at.Campsite ¬†We pulled the boat up, not believing our luck. This place was unreal! I immediately had to check out the area- setting up the tent can wait! There was a bay of crystal clear water, you could see the Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout just taunting you. I instantly noticed the yellow and black butterflies- a lot of them. I went over to a muddy bank by the water and there was a huge gorgeous black and white butterfly just hanging out- and that’s when I saw it. I knew instantly it was a Celastrina. I told Chris and he was skeptical, saying “wouldn’t there be wild hops around here then?”. Sure enough a short walk up a path it was lined with wild hops. Looking up to the right wild hops blanketed the scree piles.

Seeing the little blue Celastrina butterfly right in front of me was like seeing a real faerie- I know, that may sound silly. You’re thinking I should lay off the Saison!, but at Odell Brewing Co. we’ve heard so much about these little, wild hop devouring, butterflies; but not many people have actually seen them. They’re very rare- so much so that we dedicated a beer to their preservation, Celastrina Saison. I was in contact with Rob Schorr of the CNHP, and he said it would be very curious if it was indeed Hops Blue Celastrina because up to this point they’ve only been found along the Front Range from Larimer to El Paso County. So there is a chance this beautiful little butterfly that endured our respectful intrusion for a couple of nights may be the variety of Celastrina known as Spring Blue, and not our now beloved Hops Blue, but I want to believe otherwise. I took it as we were supposed to choose Morrow Point. We kayaked all around that area and didn’t see the Celastrina anywhere else. That area was a Utopia- and the Hops Blue Celastrina was part of it.

~Lynsey Bates

Lynsey manages the merchandise and music for Odell Brewing Co.

Categories: Cellar Series