Striking gold in Colorado, autumn 2014

Hiking toward Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park (Image: Garett LaCouture)
Hiking toward Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park (Image: Denver Post and Garett LaCouture)

Just a nod to the glorious foliage in the Rockies this week. My calendar reminds me every year that September 27 is the average annual peak foliage day in the mountains, but a cold snap several weeks ago triggered early color.

The planets aligned and I went up last Friday to join my brother and bum around. What a treat to have hours of wonderful conversation with him while he drove and let me drool over the color. Maybe it was the matchless company, or the fact I didn’t have to drive. I don’t know. But it was a spectacular clear day, about 70° with a cool breeze and skies just like those in the photo. I remarked repeatedly that it was the most gorgeous foliage day I’d ever experienced.

We did not actually get as far north as RMNP, but seasoned leaf peepers along the Peak to Peak Highway know the best foliage is between Nederland and Ward. And this year the aspen was as thick and golden and luminous as in the photo. We circled up to Brainard Lake, above Ward, and then moved on to Allenspark, where we retraced our steps from countless family vacations, surveyed old cabins we’d stayed in and the newer homes of folks we know, drove deep into the woods on roads only the locals know, and stopped to visit with a longtime friend who still lives there. I hadn’t been in his old 1920s cabin in more than 50 years and the feeling was both strange and wonderful. Like time travel. Suddenly I was 20 years old again, and anything was possible. Climbing ropes and carabiners hung on the rough log wall, trusty old boots waited in the corner. A cool breeze wafted through the screen door. Outside a squirrel chattered encouragement and across the valley, Wild Basin and the Longs Peak Massif beckoned.

Reluctantly we finally headed back to my brother’s place west of Boulder, driving again through miles of the most extensive, brilliant gold foliage I can remember. Without a doubt, last Friday was THE day to be on the Peak to Peak.

Another representative photo shot near Chicago Creek Campground, September 23 (Photo by Alan Gottlieb)
Another representative photo shot near Chicago Creek Campground, September 23 (Image: Denver Post and Alan Gottlieb)

Don’t miss the Denver Post’s gallery for more 2014 foliage photos. New pictures are being added every day.

13 thoughts on “Striking gold in Colorado, autumn 2014

  1. Wonderful gold! When we lived in Utah we enjoyed a few golden spectacles where aspen predominated, but most canyon travels were to view more diverse color. Now in southern Michigan, we have about another week to go until the peak color arrives.When it comes, we’ll have some beautiful reds and yellows to complement some dashes of gold.

    1. Gold is certainly predominant here, with only an occasional outlier or shrub trying for red. It’s entirely different in areas with mixed hardwoods — the red, orange, and yellow mix in New England is spectacular. I imagine Michigan is more like that.

      (I will see Utah canyonlands someday. If I don’t go on my own, my brother will probably drag me!)

  2. Unfortunately here in Sydney we rarely if ever get to see the gorgeous colours of autumn, our seasons are not so clearly defined as those in the US and I assume Europe and parts of Asia, we have in a way just 2 seasons one it’s bloody hot and two it’s not so bloody hot. We have just gone into what we like to call spring, yesterday it was 33°C (91.4°) last week it was only 22°C (71.6°F).

    I do envy you your autumns the pictures always look so beautiful. Up in our Blue Mountains I know they get something similar to you but we don’t have the variety of trees that you do so not as breathtaking as yours.

    But you’ll soon have your frosts and snow which is something that looks nice in pictures but not something I would care to suffer. But your autumns wow!

    1. I’d definitely prefer “not so bloody hot.” So other than the short hours of daylight, I think winter is fine. We don’t get that much snow down here in Denver, and it usually melts off in a day or two when we do. Certainly not constant snow cover like I think many people imagine. Up in the mountains it’s totally different. They got some snow today, and the skiers are counting the days till the slopes open.

    2. I’d never given much thought to Australia’s seasons, beyond knowing they are the reverse of ours. Hadn’t though much about your temperature ranges, although I’d assumed the Outback was always hot and desert-like. And I’ve really no concept of what your forested areas are like and what kinds of trees you have.

      1. Well you are not alone PT not many people do give a thought to Australia period, ;(

        We call orselves the Lucky Country for good reason but perhaps we should change that to the forgotten country.

        Charles Darwin was actually quite fascinated by this country our Blue Mountains in paricular, just west of Sydney about 60 kilometres. which is the area where the Wollombi Pines were found a plant/tree thought to have been extinct for many millions of years. You may find this link fascinating.

        Perhaps I should do some blogs addressing the lack of knowledge of this country by our foreign cousins; does that make sense seems a bit thingy to me, getting tired been a long day

        1. It’s not that I don’t give Australia a thought. I’ve long been fascinated by all its unique animals (and now, plants). But I hadn’t thought much about its seasons, temperature ranges, etc., beyond assuming it was similar to us only reversed. Actually, there was a time (in the 60s, as I recall) that my husband and I talked a bit about moving there. I don’t recall the rationale, but something to do with favorable conditions being offered by your government to recruit young people?

          The way the world is going now, you should continue to call yourselves the Lucky Country. You seem to be out of the way of most world strife, nasty international politics, etc. (Or maybe in saying that I’m just displaying more ignorance about Australia.)

          1. We certainly are a long way from the actual turmoil in the middle east and Afghanistan but we are not negligent in our responsibilities. We are serving with you in both theatres of war on the ground in the air and at sea. Admittedly our numbers are small compared to the US but we have been there the whole time and we were if not the first we are one of the first to again join you in this new outbreak in Iraq. Australia takes its obligations under the ANZUS Treaty/Pact very seriously.

            As to our politics unfortunately we now have in government an imbecile who wants to take us down the American road, he wants to dismantle our free (well relatively free) tertiary education system ( and the hypocrites all enjoyed the benefits of such an education), he wants to dismantle our health care system and sell it off to the highest bidder. Our system is second to none. He wants to sell our free ABC system off to rupert murdock, (he’s in murdocks pocket).

            At the moment our country is going through a very troubled traumatic political period and we have 3 more years of this terror and harm that this madman is trying to unleash upon us.

            I do think though that we will come back stronger than ever, our Unions here will gather more strength and more members and we will hopefully destroy this maniac politically, we don’t actually go around shooting our pollies (although there are times when I wish we did). and common sense will prevail again.

            Australians are a very social and socialized people a few years ago when a Liberal (our conservative party) government proposed tax cuts; the population got up in arms and cried out against the tax cuts and said to put the money into education and the healthcare, so the libs took the hint and did as we asked. This time however they have a maniac in control.

            Australians are sometimes referred to as “A Weird Mob” in fact there was a book written in the 50’s by that very name.

            Here endeth the first lesson, the ushers will now take around the plate for your offering.

            🙂 🙂

          2. I’ve nothing but fondness for Australia, the staunchest of allies for a long time. And I trust that Aussies will continue do well no matter what your government idiots might do. When you think things are looking bad, just look at us (and remember what you achieved with gun control).

... and that's my two cents