Sometimes when Jon and I don’t have a plan, our day turns into a road trip. That was the case for this day. We ended up driving through Independence Pass, through Aspen, to Snowmass and then parking at the Capitol Peak trailhead and hiking there for a while. It was a hot day and we had Bivy with us, so we kept the hike short and sweet, while being totally dazzled by the scenery and a little bummed we couldn’t go further.
This year has been a tragic one for Capitol Peak. And really, the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness as a whole. Too many deaths. When we first began our drive to the trailhead, we saw a search and rescue helicopter take off towards Capitol. The following afternoon we heard news that someone had died the previous day. A big fall after a successful summit. It seems that every week this summer someone has passed on this mountain. It really puts into perspective the danger of mountaineering. We have always known the dangers of this sport. But it hammers the point. That safety needs to come first, and that begins with preparation. Research, research, research. Pack for worst-case. Stay on the route. Clarify anything that is in question immediately as those questions come up. The truth is, there is so much room for error on the mountains, but most of it can be eased by preparing the proper way: over-preparing.
The road to the trailhead was a bumpy ride. Definitely don’t drive it if you don’t have a 4-wheel drive truck. Or Jeep. Or something. Are Jeeps trucks? I have no clue. We saw two sedans that were stuck on the side of the road. Not super sure how these cars will get unstuck... Anyways! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many aspen trees. From the drive in, to the trailhead, to the trail. Aspens everywhere! I will be returning in a few weeks, because I need to see this area when all is yellow. Can you imagine?
“Go spend time with the aspen trees. They'll tell you how it works. They'll tell you to look to your roots for energy. They'll tell you there's warmth below the surface.” -Kaya McLaren
It was fun to hear the cows mooing away in the distance. And then not in the distance, but right near us. Bivy had a blast splashing around in the stream when it opened up into a slow moving and pebbled flat. There was a scent of summer in the air that was invigorating and gentle. That green smell that’ll bring you back to good memories. Childhood stuff.
And all over the place yellow was peeking out. Ever so slightly. It got me super stoked for autumn and everything that comes with it. The crunching of leaves, massive doses of bright color, crisp mornings and cold evenings. I don’t know why, but autumn always makes me turn inwards. It causes reflection and nostalgia. Memories of where I’ve experienced these colors. Fall is a time of change. And for the past 10 years, during the fall months, I have changed. This year will be no different.
“Fiery colors begin their yearly conquest of the hills, propelled by the autumn winds. Fall is the artist.” —Takayuki Ikkaku
The short time we spent in this wilderness was delightful. It felt wild. There wasn’t the trash on trail that you find in heavily trafficked areas. The signage was minimal. And aside from the cows, the land was quiet. It inspired me to do big things this fall. I’m not positive what that even means yet... but I’m sure I’ll figure it out :)
Does fall inspire you? I’d love to hear about it if it does.