30 x 48 in | 76.2 x 121.9 cm
I remember the moment that I first saw this tree as if it were yesterday. I was cross-country skiing through a mountain trail one very cold afternoon. A fine snow was falling and the sun was behind a pearly sky. The low contrast and haze from the light snow made the forest look soft and feathery, a perfect background against which to appreciate the ruggedness of the Engelmann Spruce. The tree loomed over me.
A soft blanketing snowfall, the kind that covers branches in white pillows, would have given the wrong impression. But this fine, granular snow was perfect. It settled on each twig separately, accentuating rather than softening their craggy, claw-like appearance. The spruces are tough trees, and the Engelmann is one of the toughest of the spruces, tending to live at higher elevations than its close cousin, the White Spruce (Picea glauca). It seemed to enjoy exposure to the full harshness of the mountain winter. Decorated with bright yellow Wolf Moss, which is harmless to the tree, it appeared to be celebrating the season. I thoroughly enjoyed the contrast of brilliant yellow mosses and mauve reflections inside the branches.
Engelmann Spruce (Picea engelmannii) is the principal spruce of the Rocky Mountains of interior British Columbia, western Alberta, parts of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. It also grows as far South as southern New Mexico at elevations between 1000 and 2000 meters (roughly 5000 to 11,000 feet). This particular Engelmann Spruce lives in Banff National Park in Alberta.