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Two Falls, Two Springs 27 September 2011

Posted by magicdufflepud in Colorado, Random, Travel.
Tags: , , , , ,

Climbing Pyramid Peak this weekend took more effort than I’d imagined it might, and my quads are reminding me of that today, but all in all the hike became one of the more enjoyable ones of the year, if only because of the season. I’d almost forgotten about fall in the mountains—autumn comes twice in Colorado—but the passel of photographers at Maroon Lake hadn’t. Well before dawn, they’d lined up on the shores, two deep in places, for that iconic shot of the Bells, that one you see in Nature Valley commercials. We on the other hand, got lost taking the wrong trail, backtracked to the lake, then eventually found our way at first light. So much for starting early.

At any rate, it was a reminder that most everyone else in the country seems to think that Denver’s a mountain town, a place where folks ski to work and bobsled home–and in a way it is, since so many folks here enjoy a mountain lifestyle, and so many more would bobsled anywhere if given the chance. But the truthof course is that Denver’s on the plains, the high plains sure, yet the mountains only begin to rise 20 minutes from downtown. Think Omaha, except a mile higher, so the fiction that we’re always bundled up waiting for the next blizzard is just that, a fiction. The reality is if anything stranger and more wonderful: two scoops of every season.

At this very moment, fall has come to the mountains. The high country aspens have received Midas touch, and in a month’s time, maybe less, a foot of snow will blanket their fallen leaves while the same process begins here on the plains. A month after that, as the mountain freeze hardens, Denver will begin to feel a true winter chill. Yet its winter is brief, lasting until April, just as the high country receives the most snow and the most sun. Ski conditions up there will be their best all year. Those 4000′ separating Denver from Summit County always leave the mountains two months ahead or behind.

So, this weekend, our route to the summit carried us past a rock glacier, a molting mountain goat and up a fairly stiff face that in places involved significant exposure. I can report that Pyramid Peak is more interesting, certainly, than anything you might encounter hiking Missouri. It’s a fourteener which actually deserves to be climbed, so long as you remember the helmet and keep your wits about you.

The summit delivered cool, calm weather perfect for lazing and gazing. Before this, I don’t think I’d spent any time in the Elks, but they must rank near the top of any “most beautiful” range list for the Bells alone. The rich, red hues of the sedimentary rocks in the area, coupled with the near vertical faces set the Elks apart from the standard Colorado fare of grays and rolling slopes. Aspen is that much the better for it.



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