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Friday, September 23, 2016

Autumnal Interlude, in "B flat"

On the heels of Last Dollar Road, Whipple Mountain, and a pint of bitter at the Brown Dog in To-hell-u-ride, we moseyed up The Million Dollar Highway to have a peek at Ms Autumn's progress.

Blah clouds had moved in, along with an increasing chance of rain as the day ticked by. I had to face the grim likelihood that there would be a morose pall-like backdrop for the soft glow of Ms Autumn's brush. Crap. I almost left the DSLR at home.  In fact, I almost left myself at home rather than face the prospect of having to crop-top the white-out from every photograph.  

But the thought of pouty-putzing around the house with me, myself, and I all day is a fate worse than bad skies, so I rose to the occasion and drove Ms Bobbie up to her mountains, pretending that everything was just fine and dandy.

On calm Autumn days Crystal Lake is hard to beat for golden reflections. Add those Red Mountains and a blue sky backdrop and you'll walk away with a zillion photos suitable for framing. Well, two out a three is better than nothing...

 We grabbed our packs and hiked along the lakeshore, a slow motion immersion into cadmium yellows, viridescent greens, and just enough touches of burnt orange to excite the senses. What a radiant glow, one that penetrated clothing and skin and calmed my soul. "It's a good day to be alive" crossed my mind a few times, in spite of clouds and the threat of rain.

Beyond the lake a mile or so is the Full Moon Trailhead. We had hiked it before, but never made it to Richmond Pass. Like most hikes around the San Juans, Full Moon is steep... a seemingly unending series of switchbacks through a monstrous grove of aspens. 

We went from immersion to drowning, swallowed in the glory of Ms Autumn's palette. Gentle gusts of wind rained coins of leaves, trimming our shoulders and path in shimmering gold. 

 Without sun and their complement of blue sky, the Red Mountains looked like an oddly subdued version of themselves. Clouds are a double edged sword, when puffy they can be a photographer's best friend... but when flat-white hazy, the greatest of enemies.

 Full Moon Trail zigzagged us up the mountainside through a fog of gold. It was slow going, partly due to steepness, mostly due to photo-ops.  

The pouting Reds... 

Shortly after the above photo was shot, we came upon a couple of ladies taking a trailside break. They were from Montrose and I guessed one to be in her sixties, the other beyond middle seventies. Their plan was to make it to Richmond Basin... which is right at timberline and by no means an easy goal. But we learned that they had done it before and seemed undaunted by the task... more so than me, actually, because my legs were flat and screaming to call it a day. 

Those ladies verified what I have long hoped to be true, that if one keeps after it—keeps moving and doing outdoor things that blend joy with exercise—it may just be possible to continue doing it long into Geezerdom. A little genetic luck never hurts either. I congratulated, then thanked them, for being an example and inspiration. How could I turn around after that? Onward...

We continued, finally reaching the basin below Richmond Pass... the turnaround point the last time we hiked Full Moon. 

Richmond Pass... left of center and partially concealed behind the pine tree

I plopped my fat ass and flat legs down, wolfed a couple of protein bars, then asked Bobbie how she was doing. 
Now when Bobbie says she's doing "fine," it means the hike is going to continue. After a few minutes I notice she's gone, and see her heading off toward an oh-so-distant Richmond Pass (sigh).

To be concluded next post...
Have a great weekend, everyone. Now go take a hike!


  1. Love the fall colors, but I am truly a sucker for reflections. Those were fabulous. And yes, talk of old ladies hiking into geezerdom was relevant for me as well. All this moving stuff is definitely getting in the way of our hiking time!

  2. The sky may not be what you wanted, but the aspen are spectacular anyway. Love all that gold:) The reflections are gorgeous!! Perfect header:)

  3. Love the pics, leaves are really coming on. The San Juans are my favorite part of CO and looking forward to spending more time there when I retire next spring.

    Years ago I occasionally hiked with a group whose members were mostly retired and many in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s. They hiked several times a week and were very strong hikers. I was 50 and working full time so didn't get to hike as much. They were speed demons, I could barely keep up with them LOL! So I agree with your theory about staying active, and that's my plan!

  4. Nice fall photos and lake reflections.
    Better get going , hope you catch up to Bobbie.

  5. Love your pictures!! Makes me wish I was there. Thanks for sharing

  6. Great to meet you & Bobbie. Rose and I enjoyed our happy hour chat yesterday and are now off on a perimeter hike under cold cloudy Ouray skies.

    1. It was great meeting you and Rose, too. Might cross paths today as we play tour-guide for Kelli and her friend from Nederland's, Arianna. :)

  7. Beautiful pictures, you have got the reflections spot on.

  8. Al & I have been staring up Full Moon Trail it seems like forever always wondering what it must be like, started up part way once and gave up so thanks for clearing that mystery up. The colors are coming in nicely and now we see The Sneffels Range has a nice white blanket so we couldn't be happier.
    Made a quick trip up to Eureka, Arcata and Trinidad, just got in at 6 tonight. The fog bank was sitting nicely off shore which made the view looking up to Trinidad just spectacular. Could not believe how crowded all three towns were with out of state visitors.
    Now we get to pack it in for Ouray and the San Juans.....Yipppieeeee. See Ya.

  9. Great reflection pictures even though you didn't get a blue sky. We are at the end of our time in Colorado. A few more days in Durango and a train ride Wednesday, then we head back to California to visit family via NM and AZ. We will miss Colorado. It's been fantastic!

    1. You sure timed your visit right... and stayed long enough to get the "vibe." The vibe will bring you back :)
      It was great meeting you guys. Next time pizza and beer at our house!!!


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