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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Last Dollar's Canopy of Gold

Autumn days. It just doesn't get any better around here, a time when Summer's heat and tourism are on the downswing, and every leaf becomes a "flower."

Though Ms Autumn had not "peaked" yet, she was off to a good enough start to warrant further investigation. Last Dollar Road is always a good choice... not too far away from our neighborhood, with termination point at The Brown Dog Pub and Pizzeria in Telluride, a western haven for Chicago Style deep dish pizzas and brews aplenty. 

A mile or so on the other side of Dallas Divide we hung a left on Last Dollar and opened Sue Bee's "moon roof," a move that facilitates photographing all the soaring aspens that line this backroad route to Telluride. 

Grab a cup of coffee and come along for the ride.

Having completed a three hour run up Camp Bird Road the previous day, I was nursing some pretty sore legs. After only an hour behind the wheel they were on the verge of seizing up. 

The trail to Whipple Mountain is one switchback beyond Last Dollar Pass... something we'd never hiked in all the times we've passed right by it. I needed help to just get out of the car, so I don't know what made me think this would be a good day for a debut hike up Whipple Mountain. But, it was time to either move around or let rigamortis have its way with me. Hopefully Ms Autumn's brushwork would help keep my mind off the pain of trying to keep the Grim Reaper at bay.

 As you can see, the trail wound up through a patchwork quilt of golden meadows and Aspen... a soothing "balm" for tired hearts and achy legs. Bobbie had the lead, it was all I could do to keep her in sight. 

It was a high contrast day, nothing to soften brutal, harsh light. Aspen resembled flaming torches against backdrops of dark timber. I could almost feel the heat as the sun beat down with all its might. Dear God, my birthright for a spot of shade...

If that's Whipple Mountain, I'm not going to make it...

But, just like a puzzle is put together one piece at a time, a mountain is climbed one step at a time. Soon enough, there is only one piece left to complete the "picture."  Ahh, time to sit back and admire the accomplishment. 

Then, with all the subtleness of Ms Autumns arrival, I am reminded that the biggest rewards are not found in the endgame or on summits or in accomplishments, they are found in the "journey," time passed with friends, loved ones, or even in the company of one's self, where the mind is not bound by constraints of conversation and is free to contemplate hither, thither, and yon.

And no, there are no frivolous deep dish pizza food photos, tho I was tempted to photograph my tall, sweaty glass of headless beer, so expertly poured and escorted through a maze of max occupancy rowdies, up a flight of stairs, and landed in front of me filled to the brim, not a single precious drop spilled in the process... 


  1. Thanks for that early fall foliage tour Mark & Bobbie. Crystal Reservoir is always our first stop on day one and generally it has always peaked but there is still a little green, never disappoints and The Last Dollar Road is never missed, have never eaten at the Brown Dog so will give it a try this year. Will check out the trail to Whipple Mt now as we have never run across it. I assume it's reached off LDR, we need a new adventure. (I think getting there this year is going to be an adventure) (speaking of legs cramping, only ours are from sitting, :)
    Stay Thirsty

  2. Thanks for taking us along via your camera!!! Beautiful scenery. This year I need to go out more when the colors change...........we are several hundred miles south of you so there is only a twinge of color so far.

  3. Stunning...just stunningly beautiful.

  4. It's the best time of the year in the San Juans and you guys are right in the middle of it. I'm missing those Aspen colors and wishing I could be there. Thanks for the photos and report!

  5. I'm back in the valley of Mesa where it is hot and shadeless. I think a trip back up to Payson to visit Mom and trees and shade suddenly got put on the agenda. Wonderful pictures. I haven't experienced autumn in 5 years or so.


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