Saturday, September 29, 2007

Aspen Gauntlet on Kenosha Pass

I grew up in California and my mother and I would take an annual pilgrimage to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in search of any color. It was rare indeed. A single tree would have us all a tingle. A small grove would elicit a near epileptic seizure. We would return from these expeditions ready to cook squash on the backyard BBQ, convinced we were awash in Fall’s mantel. My father, who grew up near Boston, viewed these events with typical East Coast noblesse oblige. He would look at us over the brim of his book with a condescending “foolish mortals” gaze. We were indeed so na├»ve. While it is true that the East Coast has those vibrant reds and cascading hillsides, Colorado has snow-capped peaks reflected in still lakes dripping with reflected gold. Having to burn a few calories to see it is an added value in my mind.

So, for this weekends leaf-popping expedition, a friend and I headed up highway 285 to Kenosha Pass. I have driven over this pass many times but confess have never stopped to cruise along the Colorado Trail that cuts across the road. We got an early 0730 start from the Denver Metro Area and were parked on the south side of the pass by 0915. While you can see the hillside of aspen from the road, what you cannot see is the sheer size of the Aspen trees in the nearest grove. This was Disneyland for leaf hounds. The trees towered overhead and swayed dangerously in the stiff 25mph breeze. The trail curved seductively here and there leading the walker onward. The path and air were strewn with leaves falling and fallen creating a golden ticker tape parade.

The Colorado trail continues south with sweeping views of South Park and the mountains beyond. We turned around after about two hours because it was beginning to rain. Upon return to the trailhead, we were greeted by 10,000 other peepers crowding into the parking lots and blocking the road. The take home point for this post is get and early start.

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