Aspen glow

This year Mother Nature hurried to full color between the dry weather of fall and the prediction of a early snowfall. The yellows were bright, the reds just beginning when temperatures dropped drastically.

The beauty of the aspen is heightened by the contrast of the evergreen. It is impossible for the aspen to hide, they glow from within and shine in the shade. They are filled not just with color but with colored lights.

Driving up Squaw Pass Road towards Mount Evans the colors tease at first. Then appear more frequently along the road and in glimpses across the horizon. The road is full of curves and the line of visitors long making it difficult to pull into the small turnouts that quickly appear and disappear. Some turnouts are always filled by those that know the best spots because they make this trip each year.

Gratefully an actual parking area is not far up the mountain. People exit their cars and head through an open meadow towards groves of aspens that stand against the backdrop of mountain colors.

The area is large enough for everyone to enjoy the beauty while also having privacy. I leave my car with camera in hand to capture a piece of heaven to enjoy after the color is gone.

Once in the grove of aspens I can’t decide where to rest my eyes. Each bright color of leaves is gorgeous, the combination of colors side by side is gorgeous, and the stalk white and black bark is equally gorgeous. The entire tree fills me happiness.

Hopefully as the my yearly pilgrimages increase I will find more places to view the fall, and some of these places will become known to me as a close friend.

Fungus is here

It’s mushroom time. This summer with all of the extra rain it was looking like lots of mushrooms would appear. Unfortunately the rain stopped and the heat went way up.

The climate in the foothills can change quickly and drastically. We have lots of tall grass from earlier moisture so the mushrooms that did show up this season have many great places to hide.

I see a few Puffballs, little white mushrooms, that are a mainstary around Evergreen on morning wallks. I check the usual hideouts for bright orange Charterelle and find them vacant.

This year I’m frustrated that I find so little on my searches, but I’m excited about my plan for next year because I found out about the Colorado Mycological Society. And about their forays to hunt mushrooms. I think it is time I look for expert guidance.

Forest management

At Flying J in Conifer the Forest Management Project re-opened trails on the north side this summer. Now the south side is closed most weekdays and the project still has a year to go.

The project goal is to reduce wildfire risk, promote more aspen trees and reduce confier overcrowding. Unfortunately walking the trails it is hard for me to see the big picture. Seeing trees that are beautiful cut down and lying on the ground hurts. The squirrels are more visible as they run across the horizontal trees dragging off pine cones and pieces of branches to make their winter nests.

Hopefully as I continue to walk the trails I will get use to the new more open look. Hopefully the project goals are met and I will have many years to see what changes occur.

Summer flowers

This has been a special summer. Spring provided lots of snow and rain to get the flowers started, but something even more unusual happened when rain appeared frequently in the afternoons each week.

Most summers by the end of June the dry heat shows ups by mid-morning and doesn’t stop until late afternoon as the sun sets and the temperature drops. This year late afternoon showers have continued into August. Sometimes the rain is steady and hard, with thunder and lightning thrown in for a little extra punch.


Because of all of the moisture the flowers line the trails as if spring were still here. The colors are strong, and the sun stays behind clouds enough in the afternoons for moisture to have a chance to hang around.

The mornings are dry and the temperatures dip to the high 50s so morning hikes are guaranteed.

In the afternoons sitting on the deck waiting to see how much rain will fall the birdfeeder is full of birds such as the Western Tanager that is flying through and the many kinds of woodpeckers in the Ponderosa and Lodgepoles. The smaller woodpeckers take turns chasing each other around the trees in their jerky little dance while the larger Flicker intimidate with just their size.

Elk Meadow

Yesterday I decided on a short walk at Elk Meadow about 10am. The clouds were everywhere taunting the forecast for rain after 1pm; they played along the ground adding cold heavy moisture to a hike that is usually hot and dry.

Today I took the path that comes closest to Evergreen Parkway. I enjoy walking in an open area and being able to see cars on the nearby highway. It’s a wonderful turnabout where you hear the birds and enjoy nature just within sight of the man-made things you are temporarily escaping.

In the middle of the path and sprinkled through the grasses on either side were Sand or Star Lilies. They drape beautifully along the ground, the delicate 2-3″ flower looking elegant.

More flowers were appearing under trees along the path. Their bud heads still tight, hiding their identity.

The colors of the flowers and trees were vivid from the moisture and contrasted strongly against the sandy earth and grasses.

I stopped at a lookout to see the Ponderosa in this photo. The tree framed the view of the meadow and competed for attention with the bright oranges of the scared trunk.

Marshdale hike

Yah! Found the trail behind Marshdale Elementary in the Denver Mountain Parks Conservation Property that goes to the top of the rock outcropping. I’ve been looking for two months, but with the snow I lose the trail and a large housing development adjacent with private property posting has been the only constant.

From the top the views are wonderful. The Barn Chapel in Evergreen Memorial Park is visible to the south. To the west snowy peaks line the horizon, and the view of Conifer Mountain is clear.

Along the trail flowers are starting to appear; stark white petals contrasting against dark green leathery leaves. Small gullets lining the path, and fuzzy Mullen leaves sprouting.

First flower

First Pasqueflower of 2019. Each day it opens to show the light lavender color inside, and moves following the arc of the sun. Each night it closes and the silvery hairs covering the flower stalk and sepals catch water drops which glisten in the early morning sunlight.

Marshdale

Between Evergreen and Conifer is Marshdale. The sleepy looking area needs close inspection to find hidden history and trails.

For instance behind Marshdale Elementary is Denver Mountain Parks Conservation Property. Trails here may be best known to fourth graders who climb each spring while learning about Indians and checking out the wildlife. Starting up the trail is an old column of gray rocks. Students have added small painted rocks in the crevices leaving bright splashes of color.

New custom homes dot one side of the property. Another side has small cabins from the early 1900s. Like the column of rocks, new and old sit side by side.

Happy New Year Snow

This winter snow has not been often or heavy. On New Years Eve the snow fell lightly on and off all day and throughout the night. Waking up in 2019 the first thing to greet me was the cold.

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