The end of Autumn

Christa and I took a brief trip up to Edwards this weekend to relax at the Ghent household. We’ve both been going non-stop for the last few weeks, and it was a relief to have a weekend with very little to do. Since collegiate nationals last weekend I’ve been suffering with the obligatory post-race cold. My body has a way of knowing when to let the defences down, and this week has been an exercise in tissues and paracetemol.

Looking south towards Mount Guyot across the water of Lake Dillon

After celebrating Halloween with friends on Thursday and Friday, we drove up to Edwards on Saturday morning. We ran around town doing some chores, then got on the road after the early-season ski rush. It’s rarely a pleasure to drive up the I-70 corridor towards the mountain, but today was an exception. The cottonwoods lining the low elevation creeks are the last trees to succumb to autumn, and their foliage was at its peak this weekend. As we drove through the Eisenhower tunnel on the way into Summit county, we’d finally reached winter; the view across Lake Dillon to the 10 mile range towards Breckenridge was amazing.

We didn’t have much of a weekend plan; we’d brought bikes with us, but weren’t too motivated to get cold and wet. We ended up going for a short spin up West Lake Creek road; the northern access into the Holy Cross Wilderness. The New York mountains frame the southern edge of the eagle valley, and its these we rode towards. Last autumn, Christa and I climbed up Finnegan’s peak to look at the area from the top, but today we contented ourselves with the dirt roads below.

Looking at the New York mountains from West Lake creek road

We played around on the empty roads; the surface varied from packed snow in the shade to sloppy mud in the low sunshine.

This road heads up to Barietta Cabin; a gold-rush era mining site

On Sunday we traded in the bikes for running shoes. A mix of weather was forecast, and a brief front of warm air resulted in blustery winds. Not ideal bike riding weather. We ran up East Lake Creek; a wide drainage coming directly down from the mountains. It was calm and warm in the lee of the Aspens and Cottonwoods lining the creek, and I felt a little guilty about not riding. It was a welcome break though, and my legs told me that a week of rest after collegiate nationals has not damaged my fitness at all. We stopped to see the last of the Aspen leaves floating off down the river; the last of autumn being washed away but the impending snow.

Aspens in the creek, near Edwards, Colorado

As forecasted, the warm winds ushered in a huge storm that dropped snow right across the high mountains. Our drive back along I-70 was much less pleasant, even if the snow had filled the patchy brown tundra with continuous white. It was the perfect weekend to watch the weather change in synchrony with the clocks.

Sunrise over Lake Dillon, the town of Frisco, and the Northern ten mile range