Why stay home and do chores?

Scott Condon
On the Trail
A high-country lake glistens in the Fryingpan Valley. Hikers are rewarded with a spectacular display of wildflowers when they climb high enough.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |

I had one of my best weekends in a really long time last weekend, thanks to great hiking, fun camping, spectacular wildflowers and the generosity of a sister-in-law.

My brother-in-law and good friend Jim was in town with his family. He was in dire need of a Rocky Mountain adventure, so we went hiking and camping with my daughter Hannah in the Upper Fryingpan Valley. We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the creation of wilderness with one familiar hike (Lyle and Mormon lakes) and one that was partially new (Henderson Park/Carter Lake).

The concentration of wildflowers at and near Lyle Lake is almost beyond description. The magenta-colored Indian paintbrush, bottlebrush and elephant heads were prolific, to say the least. The weather was perfect. We were ahead of the crowds. The entire day was ideal.

We camped where we had a great view of the multiple 13,000-foot peaks towering to the south of the Fryingpan drainage. There was just enough cloud cover at dusk to create a surreal landscape of the purple mountains majesty.

We gave our systems a quick jolt the next morning with the steep climb to start the Henderson Park Trail. We saw some different wildflowers that I would call good but not great. The trail provides lots of options — Tellurium, Josephine and Carter lakes. I have visited all three over the years but never Carter from Henderson Park. It was a poor choice for this time of year. Once over a certain elevation, it was a hike in a conifer forest largely devoid of wildflowers. And wildflower season is too short and too good not to take advantage of.

As good as the weekend was, the true treat came when we got home. My sister-in-law Jane, who stayed behind, has all the talent and none of the ego of Martha Stewart. Once Jane sets her sights on a project, she whirls into motion — quick, efficient and effective. When I arrived home with my camping party at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jane had repainted two bathrooms as well as the kitchen cupboards my wife and I have bemoaned for years. The towel racks were replaced in the bathrooms and “pulls” installed on the kitchen cabinets.

How many guys can run off in the woods for the weekend and still see so many goals achieved? I love it when my in-laws visit.