And with a blink, fall's peak has passed at 8,800 feet above sea level. Most of the leaves are on the ground, losing life and color. We now enter the silent and stark season where the mountains are vacated and we wait till the snow falls deep. It's the frost season, the time of low light and long angles. This bed of leaves and a tiny creek give us one of the last images to hold us over till the next autumn comes.
It's time to check in after an extended absence. What a September we had here in Nederland, Colorado! As I'm sure most of you know, we experienced a major flood in the area and it wrecked havoc on lives here. Elaine and I got out just fine – the beauty of living in Happy Valley is we are above the flood zone – but a lot of people lost homes or had severe damage. A friend of ours from work had his entire basement flooded by 8 feet of water, and there are worse tales than that.
The biggest effect the flood had on us was wrecking havoc on transportation. The normal Boulder Canyon route was washed away in many places, that necessitated it being closed until just yesterday actually. Our commute turned from a 30 minute snap into an hour-fifteen epic through Gold Hill and down Sunshine Canyon. Don't get me wrong – a lot of folks have worse commutes than this, as the leaves are stunning and the views of the divide spectacular. The morning drive down was actually kind of nice. However, after a long day of work, the hour-fifteen commute over rough dirt roads in the dark took its toll. I'm not the hugest fan of driving in the first place, so it seemed like time wasted. Nevertheless, this was the hand dealt and we got through it just fine.
It was a disjointed month. I had to go to Texas for work, which was certainly culturally different, and there were a few days there where we were literally blocked off from the world because of the flood. In the natural world lots happened. The ground got so saturated that on our normal hike in the morning there is still a trickle of moisture coming through even though it has not rained in a week. The leaves turned, and while they were not as spectacular as many years, they still put on a good show. We're past peak now and there are more on the ground than on trees. We got our first snow and our first hard freeze too. That brought to light the fact that we still have winterization work to do, and we've been good about getting it done and then playing.
A few days ago, a realization. Fifty days till the first ski race in Wolf Creek. It's time to really turn on the after burners and start getting in good shape. We don't want to be in peak shape for that first race but we want to not suffer too bad either. Elaine commented today that she can't wait for ski season. Me either. While some seem to feel a natural melancholy this time of year, we feel more like kids on Christmas Eve. Winter is on the horizon, and we can't wait.
Enjoy the photos!
Time to get flexible and fit for ski season! The cabin is peaceful and our sanctuary from busy days at work and chaos with the flood.
While the flood was raging below, Elaine and I decided to head to the highest spot in the county – the Continental Divide. This was a soggy, Pacific Northwest-like jaunt to Arapahoe Pass. We didn't see a soul.
Shortly after the flood, we got our first snow. Heading out on a hike during the first snow is a tradition of mine, and I kept it alive. The first snow and the aspen leaves changing might be my favorite natural world experience out there, and this hike lived up to it.
We've been finding tons of new (to us) trails this fall. With new trails, comes discovery, like this century old cabin. Lonely life on a lonely mountain for these folks. One imagines the laughter, the trials, the tragedies and the triumphs that happened in this place. Sometimes you feel the ghosts, but it doesn't feel haunted.
We decided to hit the high-high country a few days later with a 14-mile round trip hike to Devil's Thumb, that white, craggy looking area way off on the horizon just to the left of middle in this photo. By the top, we were postholing through knee deep snow. Next time we're here, it'll be on skis I bet! We are lucky to be literally able to walk out our door and go to this.
When we bought the cabin in July, we knew it was a summer-only cabin. But, we plan to live here year round, so insulation and other significant winterization projects have taken a priority. Here I am tacking up some plywood over ceiling insulation. I enjoy working on something that is ours, in a place we own. Eldora isn't Jackson Hole or Aspen, and that's the appeal. I like the roughness around the edges, the wild feel. We have everything here we need – beautiful nature, hiking, skiing and biking out the backdoor, all accessible literally out the door with zero car time. But, that said, we can go to Boulder and make a living doing something we love. Hell, we even got to go to a professional baseball game the other day. It's a nice balance, and besides, Jackson is only seven hours away!
It's been getting frosty here. This creek is slightly above our home. The nice thing about the insulation is you can feel a difference. At the start of the project, the outside and inside temperatures fluctuated almost equally. Now, the inside is more consistent. There is still work to do, and we'll do it!
September was drawing to an end and we hadn't gotten a ski in yet. Decided to remedy that last weekend with a trip to St. Mary's Glacier. We ended up skiing with our friends and co-workers Danielle and Ellen. Fun day trying to keep up with the girls. We all got a good sunburn from too much lounging around and enjoying the Fall River Road autumn! For Elaine and I, it was our 36th straight month of making turns. On a personal note, it was my 500th day skiing in the past three years. Those numbers don't mean much, other than we've gotten to see and experience lots of different and rewarding things that we can take with us till our last breath. That's the real accomplishment in this game of life.
Stella the wonderdog has been a constant companion through out. From almost dying after being tethered to a chain and starved to near death in an abandoned sled dog operation to being an absolute gem of a dog…well, we couldn't have lucked out more. We feed her Taste of the Wild to make up for the events in her previous life!
More exploration on the mountain out our front door. There is so much mystery up here. Fall has moved from its peak to past-prime. It's a contemplative time of year, perfect for quiet walks in the dying light, wool sweaters and paint covered Mountain Khakis, worn because the rest of the day is spent like a squirrel, working hard to get ready for winter!
The calm before the storm at the local ski area. Meanwhile, further west, the big peaks breathe before the massive storm exhale of winter. The big peaks in the winter is the greatest spot on earth, and it's right around the corner.
We realized the other day we're 50 days out till the first ski race of the year. This motivated me to take the single up the old jeep road and down the ghost singletrack. Man, it hurt, and that was the intent. Another season on the horizon, and I want it to be the best one yet!
Autumn roads, a mountain bike, a great partner and a sense of exploration make for very good times. It's been an up and down month, and I'm glad for all of it!