On the Trail: Jazzed on fall

Carolyn SackariasonAspen, CO Colorado

Four days, three hikes – all within a few hundred feet from my backyard. The first day of fulfilling my commitment to hike every day until all the leaves fall started on Sunday afternoon. I took on Mother Nature and hoped to beat the storm rolling in. About a quarter of a mile up the Hunter Creek Trail, the thunder and lightning started. The dog was not happy, so I figured why torture the poor guy, and I turned around. Then the hail started pelting us. The trail immediately became a river of mud, and I ran down as fast as I could. I slipped on a rock and fell. Thank God I broke my fall with my right hand because I have two broken fingers on my left from a boating accident at Ruedi the weekend before. I got home, dried off and enjoyed the rest of the day on the couch watching the Broncos run to victory.But two days later, the sun came out, and I took on Hunter Creek again. I ran the loop early in the morning and absorbed the stillness of the woods. There wasn’t a soul out there. I was a bit shocked that the colors have almost peaked in the valley. It reminded me that I must get up there more before the season ends.Wednesday was a mundane hike to the top of Smuggler – not the observation deck but another 10 minutes up to the picnic table. Along the way, the sagebrush was at its peak of fall colors, and the view down below onto town was speckled with gold aspen leaves against a backdrop of lush green trees. The morning light was hitting Buttermilk, and the Castle Creek and Maroon Creek valleys, just right. What a fabulous time to be in Aspen, I thought to myself. On my descent, I ran into a friend who happened to have called me right after I left the house to invite me up. We walked down together, along with a tourist from Houston. We gave her advice on where to eat with her husband that evening for their anniversary and some other hikes to do. She commented on how fortunate we were to live here. We acknowledged her observation.Thursday came and I thought a quick stroll up the Ute was in order. The trail was somewhat damp from the rain earlier this week, which made it a lot easier to run up and down. I began my morning trip at 6:45 and was at the rock outcropping just shy of 7:10. My time was so good, I had time to hang out – by myself – which I never have enough time to do. I sat on the rock overlooking town and the Mine Dumps on Ajax. What absolutely incredible colors are starting to manifest. I can’t wait for everything to hit its peak. I love fall.Next on the agenda: Lost Man, Cathedral, American, Conundrum, the Pass, Maroon Bells. I need the season to hang on a bit longer to fit all in.