High Points: A most beautiful week | AspenTimes.com

High Points: A most beautiful week

Paul E. Anna
High Points
The yellows were high and bright above the base of Aspen Highlands on Oct. 9
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

I first moved here in 1993. Seems to some like a long time ago. To others (this means you, Tony Vagneur), I’m still a newcomer. But, I have spent somewhere around 1,400 weeks in the Roaring Fork Valley. And, as far as I can remember, I have never seen a week as beautiful as the one that has just passed us by. As you surely know, the fall colors have been truly amazing.

Density and intensity — those were the words my wife used to describe the colors that appeared this week. Never, well at least in the years that I have been observing, has there been the volume (density) of changing leaves that erupted last weekend and continued to evolve over the first couple of days of the week. And, surely there has not been the brilliance (intensity) of color like that which has blanketed the hillsides this week. Though this is something that must be seen to be appreciated (Words alone can’t do a Colorado fall like this one justice), I think she described the indescribable in two words pretty well. 

Maybe that is why social media exploded with phone photos and videos this week showcasing the splendor of the valley. I don’t care what platform (Tik-Tok, Facebook, Instagram) you favor, nobody could help themselves. They all had to take shots of the golden aspen forests and post them for the world to see. I’m guessing that this is the most well-documented fall foliage in the state’s history. Not that I’m complaining. I too took my share of shots and will hold them in my phone for future viewing. I can’t tell you how many people have stopped me to show me their favorite pictures. And, the video compilation that appeared on the Aspen-Snowmass Instagram page was so stunning that it didn’t even look real.

Ironically there was a time, just a couple of weeks ago, when we thought this year was going to be a dud for leaf-peepin’. After all, September came and went, and we were still talking about how green everything was rather than the treasured golds of the aspens. I mean, it was pretty. But, not as pretty as it became the second week of October, when the peak colors began about 10 days later than your average year.

But, when it happened, it all came at once. Those reds and oranges in the scrub oak framed the vivid yellow leaves of the cottonwoods that were just a shade lighter than the shining golds of the aspens. The air was dry and crystal clear. The white cumulus clouds did their part each afternoon by floating slowly over the mountain tableau below. And, the light … from dawn to dusk, it was as though the sun was perfectly calibrated to maximize the viewing experience.

And, to accentuate the perfection, the week began with a full moon on Monday. Each night this week it rose in grandeur, casting a light so bright that you could still see the golden groves even under the night time sky. Magnificent.  

Yes, the week of Oct. 10, 2022 may be the most beautiful one ever. At least, in my 1,400 weeks here.