The swell Bells
September 25, 2008
ASPEN ” If you haven’t been up to the Maroon Bells lately, then go soon. The fall colors are close to their peak, and it won’t last long.
Now that an offseason pace has set in at the newspaper, I broke away for a late-afternoon bike ride to the Bells on Thursday and it was blissful. It was a warm fall day with bright blue skies, a few cottonball clouds and a mosaic of colors on the mountainsides. The sun would slip behind a cloud, muting the colors on the valley walls, and then re-emerge to set them ablaze again. Spinning along, paying as much attention to the scenery as my breathing and my riding, the view changed every time I looked up.
There are still lots of green aspens up the Maroon Creek Valley, but most of the trees are turning and there are patches of bright, neon-yellow trees that almost shock the eyes. Few if any trees have really dropped all of their leaves, so there are colors everywhere you look. And there’s nothing like a clear fall day to make it all come alive.
Summer in Aspen is amazing, but I think September is my favorite time, when we still have the benefit of mild temperatures and clear days, there’s less of an afternoon thundershower threat and the pace of work and life has slowed enough so we can savor the mountains a little more.
As I pedaled up Maroon Creek Road, I contemplated all the cool things I could do this weekend to celebrate fall in the mountains. A backpacking excursion in the Maroon Bells, or maybe a road trip down to the Great Sand Dunes and the Sangre de Cristos? Maybe just a nice, long ride to the end of the pavement up the Fryingpan.
No matter. I’ll play it by ear. What I won’t do is let the fall pass me by, like the summer seemed to.
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