Living – Places: 23
A meteor shot across the sky. No one spoke.
"What he said," Feng continued at last. "He said you must always step forward from where you stand."
—Eliot Pattison, The Skull Mantra
We hike to many beautiful spots in this neck of the woods, but sometimes we find a reminder of the magic of life right on our back porch.
Over the past couple of weeks, we've been enjoying the transition into a beautiful autumn of warm days and cool nights. We've made it up to Cow Creek twice, the first a climb up to the top plateau of Lumpy Ridge and the second a gentle walk up the valley enjoying the view of the aspens turning orange and golden, and the grasses and bushes turning yellow and tan.
The contrast of the turning aspens against the dark green pine forests can be stunning, especially as the sun and cloud shadows move across the hills.
The glowing autumn grasses smell as good as they look.
Autumn brings such a gentleness with warm colors and temperatures: an invitation to take a nap in the grass under a benevolent sun.
The trees in the Cow Creek valley are large and stately, dwarfing Garima.
Autumn is beginning its transition into winter. The peaks are now dusted with snow, the leaves have blown off almost all the aspens, and the lake grasses are turning a glowing golden tan.
We've been to Bierstadt Lake a few times this year, and have enjoyed the gift of sitting quietly and watching it evolve through the seasons.
The clouds were moving quickly across the sky, but the lake surface was untouched by the winds.
We got our first taste of winter today when we hiked up to Mills Lake. While it was relatively warm at lower elevations, it was an overcast day and once we had climbed up to the lake, which is just shy of 10,000 feet, it was pretty chilly. About half the lake is frozen already, and the winds were gusting down at us from the aptly named Keyboard of the Winds range. We bundled up in lots of layers in order to stay cozy as we enjoyed our lunch.
The lake is named after Enos Mills, the first naturalist to work in the area. He also worked tirelessly to lobby congress and politicians to create Rocky Mountain National Park, so is considered to be the Park's "father." He enjoyed a lot of time in the Park, including climbing Longs Peak 340 times!
We were sitting on a stone peninsula that juts out into the northern part of the lake. This was the view to the west, where pine trees zig-zag down to the ice-encrusted shoreline.
Just north of the lake, the outlet creates a picturesque little pond.
Looking back up towards the Mills Lake basin.
A glimpse of the extraordinary ordinary from an early morning walk along the South St. Vrain.
At the end of yesterday's somewhat cold and windy hike, we sat for a long time on the north side of Bear Lake basking in the late afternoon sun and enjoying the view of the Keyboard of the Winds.
A beautiful sunny day lit up the freshly fallen snow in our neck of the woods today. We took a hike up the Picture Rock Trail, then turned around to look back south towards our neighborhood. Wow.
The temperature warmed up to just the freezing point, so that snow on rocks was melting then immediately freezing again.
Garima and I enjoyed our traditional Thanksgiving hike and picnic lunch today. We hiked up the Picture Rock trail, then enjoyed our lunch at the intersection with the Wild Turkey trail, where we enjoyed tofu and Tofurkey burritos.
The Picture Rock trail winds up a valley where farming and rock quarries once thrived. I wonder who parked this implement after tilling a field and then never returned, leaving it to witness the passing of the seasons year after year.
There's an old rock wall along the trail. Not sure what the structure was, but the craftsmanship is fine. Look how square the end of the wall is!
Some of the wall stones have fallen and are now painted in lichen.
Some of the stones balanced precariously at the very top of the wall are also brightly colored with lichen.
Another mystery: someone drove this vehicle up to one of the picture rock quarry sites and left it. What stories are hidden in this gracefully rusting chassis?
Many hikers are inspired to contributed their own art at the quarry site.
The wooden bed of this old pickup truck is now a haven for sumac bushes.
Garima sitting on the hillside above the trail as it winds up the valley.
These aren't the "painted rock" that gave this trail its name, but I love the way lichen colors these trailside rocks.
A mud dauber wasp nest on a trailside rock.
Another beautiful lichen-colored rock formation alongside the trail.
The view from our Thanksgiving lunch spot at the intersection of the Picture Rock and Wild Turkey trails.