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Monday, October 18, 2021

Ms Autumn's Last Hurrah: Dwarfed By Aspen—Drenched In Color—Dog-Ass Tired

Fall collapses into winter as I pen this post. Higher up, aspens and oak brush beat a retreat to dormancy. Leaves are fast to lose their grip on color when fall yields to the calendar. Every year, pre-winter winds strip Ms Autumn's golden leaves in a death-spiral, where they lie in rot in the muck of muddy trails. Thus, I am thankful that we caught Ms Autumn at her brightest, wandering in her radiant light, filtered through warm golden hues that never fail to usher joy, a joy to just be outside and alive.
Color ranged from green to gold to orange on this vertiginous hike into the upper reaches of Corbett Creek's abundance of aspen groves. There were enough New Dots to keep us motivated, eager to climb and see what lies around the next corner. Like human sponges, we soak in a Autumn's warm bath of color. 

Above, drifting in and out of mists of clouds, Whitehouse Mountain shows off a blanket of fresh snow. It'a a dreamy fairyland trek, with nearly 3000 feet of elevation gain...and, unfortunately, loss. Knees will pay for this, but this experience is worth every painful penny.  

Headed for Gold: The trail above Corbett Creek

Negligee clouds teased, limiting our view of "teton" peaks

When done as a clockwise loop, Corbett Creek's relentless trail will break a sweat. Both views and sunlight are plentiful on this cool day, and layers are shed down to t-shirts.

Eventually, Corbett trail mellows into an upwardly mobilem meandering forest of aspen. Super Colossal trees tower overhead as they compete for sunlight by trying to out-grow the competition.  

Gazing skyward I feel small, dwarfed to insignificance, as I try to capture every precious scene and feeling in memory...something to keep me warm throughout December's chill that will soon land on our doorstep.    

The autumnal warmth of filtered light...


Our golden ascent offered frequent fair and far views of distant snowcapped peaks that rise with majesty above Lovely Ouray, the most beautiful place on earth.

Though miles from County Road 17, upper Corbett Creek's precipitous grade is a mail chute for enormous boulders. Flash floods frequently usher them all the way down to the backroad to Ridgway, blocking and flooding it to impasse. 

Bobbie and Ruthie cross upper Corbett Creek...

I thought we had hiked every trail in and around Lovely Ouray. But this lesser known connector segment that joins Silver Shield to Corbett turned out to be New Dots. Its color, views, atmosphere...not to mention that it's a loop-hike...makes it now my favorite fall hike and something of a must-do from now on.

Note the "ridge to the bridge" of Heaven, cross canyon and just above the aspen grove.

With apologies for "redundancy," I will now flash flood readers with a "novella" of photos that reflect my inspired mood. See if you can spot the subtle cloud movements and slight changes in angles of view. 

Now, inhale deeply, hold it, and slowly exhale. Time to soak in the details. (Note/Reminder: for a highest quality photo viewing experience, double click on any photograph to view and toggle through the entire collection in "Studio" mode) 

An avalanche chute littered with snapped off trees

Of course we're all familiar with the adage, what goes up, must come down. Going UP, we can do all day long. But coming DOWN, well, it becomes a little more unpleasant with each passing year. 

But, I'm told, New Dots combined with elevational hikes through autumnal mountains are reminiscent of "childbirth," you forget the pain and do "it" again. 

For every sad ending, be it seasonal or personal, a new beginning awaits to take its place. The Universe has a nifty way of replenishing, recycling and rejuvenating. There will be "joy in Mudville" this winter...outings in knee-deep snow and treks up and down the slopes of our beloved Red Mountains, soon to be snugly wrapped under blankets of white powder. 

So yes, this fall marks a departure for your's truly. Normally, I would  be headed west to Utah by now, to mountain bike mountain backroads around Monticello. Sometimes I'm even gone before Ms Autumn's annual "shed" in Lovely Ouray. It's my way of extending her stay, as fall in Utah lags conveniently behind Colorado. What can I say? I have ants in my pants...er, shorts. 

For me, to follow Ms Autumn's retreat south and west is one of life's greatest treats. Like a bottomless bowl of ice cream, I try to get my fill by making such pleasant indulgences last. But, as mentioned, this year marks a departure for my departure. It's all good, as Nephew Darin likes to say. The way I see it, I'm at the "dessert stage" of life. 

With sacred goals and achievements beyond my wildest childhood dreams, I'm satisfied now to just recreate every damn day...no matter where I wake up. If it's December in Colorado, I'll snowshoe or snow-hike or even ride the friggin' exercise bike when elements do not meet expectations.

Thus my summer shorts and winter gaiters stand at the ready. My Life Is Good hat reminds me that attitude is everything, and that my "cup" runneth over with good fortune. 
It's all good,
Peace Out,
mark and bobbie 


  1. Will you be heading south any time this winter or next spring? That is definitely a big difference for you. OK. Your ways with words are always compelling and I love the photos, but today what sticks with me is "negligee clouds". That image is perfect.

  2. What???? No winter in the red rocks? Did the earth tilt on its axis when I was not looking? Have a great winter hiking in shorts, I love seeing pictures of that. We have purchased snow shoes and gaiters, still waiting for snow.

  3. Absolutely stunning photos as always, Mark. Gotta ask: Are you done with RV travel to Utah and points south in the winter? Looks like we are for this winter at least, we even bought snowshoes. :)

    1. Hoping to head south in January sometime...after all the holidays are over and done.

  4. Ah, the way being outside and in the presence of massive trees or huge rock slabs from thousands of years ago illuminate the joy of being a spec in this universe

    1. A speck on a speck on a speck on a speck on a speck...and then some.
      Thanks Jewlz...enjoyed your last post!!!

  5. Boy you really rubbed it in on that one, you got us crying in our cup of tea ....
    But we had rain here in N California and suppose to rain all week off and on and maybe we will get 10" by next Monday so we are very happy campers today.
    Glad you will be hanging around Ouray for some winter action, always enjoy seeing those Reds in white coats
    D &A

    1. I hope that rain shows up....and then heads our way.
      Thanks Doug and Al.

  6. I could see the clouds moving! Your wordsmithing and photo skills peaked in this post Mark :)

    1. Thank you Terri. What can I say...Ms Autumn motivates.

  7. Change is good. Looking forward to crossing paths down the road.


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