'For the first time in years, yesterday we got it just right.'
About this time each year, we watch the Sangres from town trying to guess the perfect day to catch the Aspens as they turn. It’s a tricky business because it can appear to be a few days before prime only to wake the following morning to find that a wind or rain storm passed through overnight. Then, as the song California Dreamin’ says, “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey”. The trees remain bare until spring.
Last year, it actually hailed and snowed on us during our descent. For the first time in years, yesterday we got it just right. The Aspens had riotous colors. Hauling the horse trailer up the mountain, we couldn’t resist taking pictures out the truck window.
We strategically picked the middle of the day on a week day, to minimize the number of hikers and bikers as well as improve our odds of finding horse trailer parking. As it turned out, many people had the same idea. We arrived at Aspen Vista to a totally packed parking lot on both sides of the street, so we parked further down around the first bend in the road. Waiting there for us was a fellow rider with her horse and trailer. A minute later, another friend who had ducked out of work, arrived to snag the last horse.
We unloaded and tacked up. Even the weather cooperated. A perfect fall day; we threw on a vest and put our feet in the stirrups. The trail starts at about 10,000 feet elevation. Aspens grow at elevations only as high as 11,000 feet, which makes for an ideal one hour ride in each direction. Aspens grow in a clonal colony; a group of genetically identical individuals, so I guess the entire Sangres grove is a single colony.
Aspen gold puts a smile on every hiker and dog walker’s face, and riders are no exception. Photographers click away as the horses passed by. The trees draw strangers together commenting on our mutual good fortune to be in this moment. Even a man in a wheelchair was making his way up the incline with the help of friends. Off to the side, a group of people had gathered dead aspen trunks and made an enormous pole teepee with room for 5 or 6 to sleep.
Back at the trailers, we loaded and headed back down the mountain – still marveling at the show nature provided and our great luck of perfect timing.