Spotting this during an early-summer hike along the rim of Gascon Point, a fielded guess at its common name–Alpine Thistle (sometimes called frosty ball)–was finally confirmed by a UNM botanist last year. It was such a strange looking plant. I had secretly hoped I had discovered an unknown species, but it's still a nice find at about 11,000 ft above sea level.
The tallest plant on the broad alpine meadow where it lived, its furry whiteness indicated adaptation to a high ecozone where rarified air and radical temperature fluctuations stressed all life from the outside in to the core. It had seized opportunity in a remote place and thrived without freezing to death.
I sat beside it for a long time, looking at it and at Santa Barbara and Truchas peaks in the distance to the northwest, marveling at how this relatively remote place in the world had eventually provided ample opportunity for me as well, without destroying from the outside in.