I love, love, love being in the mountains; there is so much variety in the weather. Here are two versions of the view from the back porch of Little House in the Rockies, close-ups of the mountain range behind us. What a difference a day made!
A winter storm dominated the view in the first photo, and only Palmer Peak is visible. The snow-filled sky cloaks the higher summits of Mount Silverheels behind it.
The next afternoon, the broad expanse of this part of the Front Range is exposed, with Palmer Peak dominated by the higher mountaintops behind it.
A snowstorm came and went between these two photos, and we were snug and warm in our little cabin, watching.
Watching the storm roll in, watching the snow hide the mountains, watching the birds take a few last seeds from the feeder.
I love it in the spring, summer, fall and winter. Although I haven’t noticed that much difference between the spring, summer and fall – it can snow like crazy in any of those seasons. A sage local once told me that he’s seen snow in every month in Colorado, multiple times.
I’ve had the distinct privilege of being in Colorado many times each year since 2013, because we have a tiny little cabin in Jefferson. But I’ve never been here during the prime viewing season for aspens changing color.
We planned our trip this fall with military precision. Web sites told us that peak fall color would take place the last week in September, and we were on it.
Plane reservations? Check.
Tickets for the fall color train ride? Check.
We were all set. And then we had our Blizzard on a Train adventure on the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad, while in search of our blazing fall colors. We definitely had an adventure, an experience that we’ll remember for a lifetime, but not the fall color experience we were looking for. We missed it by a week, because these things happen in Colorado. Mother Nature decides to get a bit colder than usual in the Collegiate Peaks area, and the aspens dutifully shed their leaves.
Undeterred, we set out today for a trek around Jefferson Lake. It was lovely. You can enjoy it with us here: Hiking Around Jefferson Lake in Autumn. But it was not the fall color mecca, either.
On the way home to Little House in the Rockies from Jefferson Lake, the closer we got, the more the landscape lit up with aspens strutting their stuff. The Girl Who’s Always Hungry said, “My eyes are happy!” She nailed it.
Enjoy it with us, this bounty of beauty we found, right in our own backyard in Indian Mountain, our Little House in the Rockies “neighborhood”.
This very last photo (above) is, quite literally, our “front yard” here at Little House in the Rockies. Our aspens are a little slow to turn golden, but the overall effect is quite nice. And our “back 40” is below, with the impending storm rolling in.
When we are at Little House in the Rockies, we try to take in as much of the wonderful central Colorado environment around us as possible.
Today we visited Jefferson Lake, our first time in the fall weather. It is a beautiful, calm body of water nestled high among 12K+ mountains in the South Park National Heritage Area. We’ve been there before, in the cold, cold summer (we saw snow on the ground during 4th of July week in 2014), but hadn’t done the full hike or seen the fall colors.
This is a worthwhile trip! The 1.5 mile trail that circles the lake might be called an “easy hike” by experienced hikers, but I think “moderate” is a better term. There’s an easy part, but about half of the trail requires a little more endurance and careful footing – and hiking boots, definitely.
If you decide to do the whole circle of the trail, start on the more challenging side by going to the left and traversing the trail clockwise. When you get to the furthest point from the start, you’ll be able to walk along the “beach”, and it is all downhill from there (figuratively; it’s actually pretty flat for the second half). The whole trail hike took us about 2 hours, which included many, many photo-op stops, as you can see.
Well, maybe not a blizzard, but pretty close! As our Girl Who is Always Hungry said:
We started out in fall and ended up in winter!
I recently blogged about our upcoming trip on the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad for its Fall Photo Weekend Special. Today was the day! We anticipated an adventure made perfect by gorgeous autumn weather and Crayola-colored aspen trees lighting the way along the special 3-hour version of this storied train ride above the Arkansas River Valley, starting in the quaint old town of Leadville, Co.
It was an adventure, all right. But we lost autumn in the first ten minutes of the trip. It was a winter adventure. In fact, we were joking that we got the Winter Photo Weekend Special for the same price as the Fall one.
I was wearing jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, a vest, a heavy Eddie Bauer leather jacket, a scarf and a hat with ear flaps, and even with all that, I would be hard-pressed to think of another time I’ve been so cold. The aspen trees have been cold, too, and many of them dropped their leaves early in protest.
It started snowing about 45 minutes into the 3-hour journey, and never stopped. It is September 30! And these weren’t just gentle little flurries; there were great big, wet snowflakes landing on our faces. The sky wasn’t just gray, it was umpteen shades of gray. (but not 50 – don’t go there).
Our next-gen millennial newlyweds took a video to document the snow situation.
But it was so much fun. There was hot chocolate. There were families, and dogs, and a tour guide with lame jokes that were funny simply because they were so lame.
Even though the skies were gray, we took home some nice photo memories of the trip.
Would we do this trip again? Heck, yeah! Would we maybe wait to buy our tickets until we checked the forecast? Maybe. The bottom line is that life is an adventure, and you can’t schedule it perfectly every time. Sometimes, it’s ok to get cold, and wet, and miserable, then come home to a big, hot, toasty fire at Little House in the Rockies and make inside-the-cabin s’mores.
Watch this space for more adventures, and a post about our spring excursion on the train.
Only two days until we head out to embrace all the beauty that fall has to offer in central Colorado. On this next trip to Little House in the Rockies, we’re going on a train ride, the Leadville Colorado and Southern Railroad. The Fall Photo Weekend Special promises “sweeping vistas of the Arkansas River Valley” and “amazing displays of gold, red and orange Aspen trees lighting up the mountain side”. I can’t wait!
In anticipation, I dug out some pictures to share from our trip in the autumn of 2014. Watch this space for more!