In honor of our first wedding anniversary (which is fast approaching!) Eric and I headed west and into the mountains this past weekend to do some serious leaf peeping and get our first taste of fall. And we found it, all right - everywhere we ventured brought vistas filled to the brim with changing aspen leaves and that vivid, blue sky I always associate with Colorado autumns.
As we drove up the canyon, I couldn’t help but notice that so many of the trees that were in full color for our wedding last year were still green - and the trees that were finished on that chilly October weekend, all their leaves lost to the wind, were the ones putting on the show for this particular adventure. I think that’s just how it goes - a couple of days in either direction can change everything. As can an early frost or a long, hot start to the season. I am reminded once again that last year was something special.
But this year was, too. Both in the things we saw and in the remembering.
Our first stop was the lovely Lake Agnes - an alpine lake that I haven’t been to since I was a kid. Funnily enough, Emily and I tried to stop on the way back from our yurt trip in June, but there was still so much snow that we would have needed snowshoes.
The trail to the lake is normally quite busy and I fully expected that I’d be hauling Ponderosa off to the side every few steps to let people pass - but in the end we only met a handful of other hikers. Though it can be colder, windier, and far less predictable, exploring at the beginning of the off-season has it’s benefits. We had the whole lake to ourselves.
Back in the truck, we made our way towards the ranch where we had our wedding. We took our time driving the valley, pausing our podcasts to stop for pictures and generally gush over the gorgeousness of the day (ok, ok - it was mostly just me gushing because I cannot help myself this time of year!!) before finding ourselves a little spot among a grove of aspens to set up camp.
And let me tell you - we are getting this truck camping thing DOWN. I never really minded tent camping, but I am just in love with our little setup now. I love not sleeping on rocks. I love being able to manage the temperature by opening or closing the side windows. I love watching the stars though the back window as I drift off to dreamland. We definitely had some figuring out to do in the beginning and there are still a few kinks to work out, but it’s the best. And I’m already counting the days till we can go again.
Now I love an aspen forest any time of the year - but early morning in the autumn? Actual tears fall from my eyes at the beauty of it. I walk around crying, with an ache in my chest because I even if I stop myself from blinking I cannot see everything. Robert Frost sure knew what he was talking about when he said that “nothing gold can stay” but it doesn’t stop me from wishing.
We climbed up a hill overlooking our campsite, just basking in the color of it all. Even with all of the dead trees that cover much of the hillsides, those weathered beetle-kill pines still standing sentry, it was like a painting. Vivid, young aspen and knee-high pine had us all feeling like giants as we waded through the branches.
And then we headed home again. It was absolute heartbreak to leave - but I’ll say what I always say : that someday I will live among the aspens. And those few weeks when they turn the color of sunlight and flame? I will stay outside for every single minute. So this goodbye is not for forever. I’ll be standing open-mouthed in the mountains again before I know it.
Now, before I sign off, I have a quick aside tacked on to this love-letter to the aspens - a quartet of pieces came out of the studio before we hit the road! Three delicate turquoise necklaces inspired by that luminous Colorado sky (featuring Colorado King’s Manassa turquoise, no less!) and a ring that is easily one of my favorites to date. Doesn’t that variscite stone look like a river from above? That’s what my eyes see, anyhow. More about both on Instagram in a couple of weeks!