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...|
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.