I have now lived in Colorado for almost three years and I still had not managed to get up to the mountains when the colors are changing and all of the Aspen are vivid golden. This year I planned accordingly, did some research, and timed the weekend perfectly. I grabbed the dog and my dude for an adventure out towards the Western Slope. We were headed to Crested Butte, Colorado for a lovely weekend of leaf peeping at the end of September.
Crested Butte was a days drive from Denver, but well worth it. We camped out on Irwin Lake, drove along Kebler Pass at roughly 10,000 feet in elevation, did some hiking in beautiful landscapes, quietly observed a few vast open meadows, stood in awe beneath the bright yellow Aspen trees, drank some local Colorado Cider Company’s hard cider by a campfire, and snuggled under the stars lit by the Harvest Moon.
Of course, all of these activities were splendid in their own right, but the main purpose to camp out in the mountains was to go leaf peeping and experience the seasonal color change at its peak time, as part of my 30 Things to do Before 31 list.
Standing beneath Aspen and overlooking larger Aspen groves, I could not help but be enraptured by the rustling of the small oval leaves. The sound may not have been exceedingly loud, but it was a uniquely soft sound like paper fluttering in the wind. Stepping back and looking out at an entire grove, it is baffling to think that all of the trees are linked to just one (ancestor) tree that has spread its seedling to create an entire grove. Aspen are alike my favorite tree, Willow, in this way as well as in the way that they grow small catkins, or flowers, and shed their leaves with the season changes.
What I was not prepared for, was how alike Aspen were to giant Sequoia that I grew up under. Looking up, one is easily reminded of how small they are with these trees standing 49-98 feet tall. Needles to say, I was overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia and peace being amongst these breathtaking wonders.
Our last day in Crested Butte, we headed into town and meandered around the Farmer’s Market. We picked up some locally brewed pumpkin ale and giant oyster mushrooms for some roasting at home. I would say the timing could not have been more perfect for the season change and look forward to returning next fall.