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Sunday, October 23, 2022

Ms Autumn Has Left The Building

It's over. Our first winter storm is currently blowing into Lovely Ouray. As I write this, dismal clouds dangle low, hiding our mountain surround. Wind, rain, sleet and finally horizontal snow is stripping the last vestiges of fall foliage from trees. We knew this day would come, but it doesn't ease the sadness. 

So the following is a photo memorial to fall 2022...long and mild and luscious. A standout among all our hikes this year was Corbett Peak's east facing slopes of aspen groves. Read on for a story about two hikes, one week apart. What a difference 7 days can make...
Our First Hike 

Gazing cross-valley into Corbett Canyon's fall foliage from County Road 14, a wonderful vantage point, the aspen appeared to be "peaking." Not wanting to be late and disappointed by Ms Autumn's fickle ways, we made a plan to get our asses in gear and get this hike done. You can make it into a loop hike, but at nearly 10 miles with 2700 feet of elevation gain, bring plenty of Power Bars. Truly, it's one of the best stands of aspen we've ever encountered, and well worth the effort. But timing is everything, right?

Anyone who's hiked up Corbett Trail will attest that it's steep and loose and will have you sucking for O2. Within a couple miles, give or take, we round a south facing cliffside corner on the edge of Corbett Creek's massive drainage, full sun, and breathtaking views Corbett Mountain. It's a massive and masculine mountain, capped with snow from recent storms. 

Corbett's watershed is a vertiginous drainage that's almost as massive as the mountain. During summer monsoon seasons, flash floods routinely dredge boulders, rocks and massive amounts of gravel and pushes the carnage miles downstream, where it wipes out County Road 17. It's amazing how many cubic tons a thunderstorm can dislodge and carry downstream. It takes days to weeks to clean up the mess and reinstall culverts. It's frustrating, because everyone knows that it will, sooner or later, happen again. 


I'll step away for a bit and let the photos do the talking...

As we labored up into the higher groves, we noticed that there was more green than what we thought when viewed from County Road 14. Definitely not "peaked" yet, but still beautiful.

Lots of green...

Second Hike

A week to the day later, Hiker Babe Ruthie of "Two Old Broads" fame joined us for our reprise. Our timing was perfect...only a smattering of green, oodles of gold, and of course, a complementary palette of orange. And the sky! Wow, shooting straight produced some cool photos... 

Hiker Babes Bobbie and Ruthie...weaving through dappled golden rays

From the above meadow, the loop trail led us into dark timber and a toe-jam descent. It seemed to take us forever to get down to the car. In the end (over 6 hours) it was worth all the aches and pains to catch Ms Autumn at her very best.


  1. Good to see a new post and beautiful pictures.

  2. Your fall colors have been spectacular this year! Thanks for taking us “along.”

  3. Facebook is cool and all but nothing beats an honest to goodness full screen Mark blog. Happy happy!!

  4. Love the pictures. Glad you are back and looking forward to more stuff. John, www.RubysWindingRoad.com

  5. Welcome back! I've missed your posts. What a stunning trail - I can see why you hiked it twice!

  6. Beautiful yellow aspen with blue skies in the background. Reminds me of business trips I would make to Denver in September and Drive out to Rocky Mount national Park to see the Elk and Aspen.

  7. Beautiful! Hope you keep posting. Been following you on Two Old Broads. Doris from Pa

  8. Mark, in 27 years we never got to hike the Corbett Ck trail, probably saw it in the distance as the place we have always referred to as Heaven on Earth was just west from the trail that's marked Shortcut to the Corbett Trail. Some of our biggest photos in the house are from views looking across to Tea Kettle and Potosi peak & Whitehouse. In those days we didn't know anyone well enough to ask for pickup and ride back to our truck at the end of CR5 and the entrance to the National forrest park area if we were to hike down at that end.
    We have so many photo albums of The San Juans and surrounding area we will never forget them as long as we live.

    It does seem like the color got started late and like you say there was still plenty of green when the lst snow hit. We remember experiencing that some years back, Im sure Al could tell what that year was.

    For us there just was nothing like hiking in the San Juans with your dog and hardly running into a soul the entire day, having your midday meal, taking a nap under those lovely Aspen trees and hiking back as the sun was setting at west end of the Sneffels range.

    We have told everyone our favorite place On the Planet to be come early October is the San Juan Mts of Colorado.....and how lucky we were to have made that discovery back in 1995.

    Thankyou for all the beautiful hikes you have posted over the years'

    Best Wishes and Happy Holidays :)
    D & A

  9. 'Bout time.. Have missed your musings and your fantastic photos.

  10. Thanks for the show of autumn. It has been fairly unimpressive here, this year.

  11. You're back!! I check every day to see if you have posted. Beautiful photos as always. We had a glorious Fall here in Spokane until last Friday when the temp dropped 30 degrees overnite and the rain returned. Two months of that and then we're off to Tucson right after Christmas. Be there for Jan & Feb and return here in March.

  12. So glad you’re both well and back to blogging! While we only met once on the trails at McDowell Mt., I’ve missed reading about your outdoor adventures.

  13. "Beautiful" does not even come close to describing your photos and the area you hike. Fantastic stuff.

  14. So glad your back! You have been missed, beautiful as always.

  15. You've been missed!!!

  16. Spectacular! Thanks so much for sharing this beauty.


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