Last year, I posted about a trip to the mountains to see the aspen turning. It’s an annual tradition for most Coloradans, and this year my wife and I set aside the one fall day we both had off together for a drive. I tried to do my research first to find out where the leaves would be peaking that day, but perhaps due to the freeze the night before, it turned out most of the leaves had already fallen where we chose to go – toward Guanella Pass from the south side. So we missed the typical “fields of gold” scenes I photo. However, we were able to revisit a spot we had stumbled on a few years ago – an unmarked and otherwise unremarkable pull-off on the side of the road where a short trail leads to a river – that we can only describe as magical. It’s hard to say what makes this particular spot along this particular river so special, but we both felt it strongly. Something about the color of the water and the rocks, the way the river is just far enough into the woods for its banks to be completely natural despite being only a few dozen yards from the road, the fact that it seems so non-descript and thus leads most people to simply pass it by. So no, I’m not going to tell you where it is, exactly. But I can show you some pictures!
After spending some time at “our” spot, we continued further along the road, and while there were little or no turning aspen to be seen, autumn in Colorado can have other charms as well:
Last year, I got to see the aspens on the hillside, but missed the opportunity to walk among and be surrounded by them, which is actually my favorite way to experience the aspen. This year, even though most of the leaves had already fallen, I was at least able experience walking through an aspen grove. In some ways, doing this after the leaves have fallen is even more wonderful (although the “quaking” of the leaves on the trees is not to be missed), as there is something about the tightly spaced vertical trunks I find mesmerizing in itself. And the leaves on the ground still teased with their color:
I still entertained notions of making another trip the next weekend in hopes of finding a place where the leaves hadn’t fallen yet. But as it turned out, we got snow, and while I did make it up to the mountains, I got an entirely different kind of picture – one that served as a reminder that I had missed my chance but would be welcome to come back next year to try again: