The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

Altitudinal Attitude Adjustment

Friday, September 25th, 2015 in Colorado
Altitudinal Attitude Adjustment

I had high hopes and grand visions for the hikes I was going to do this summer. But then reality took over and things didn’t turn out as I had planned. Not even close. Now that the weather is turning, the big hikes I had envisioned doing this summer will have to wait until next June. Of course, there is nothing to be gained by lamenting my derailed intentions and the many hikes I let slip past. Instead, I must keep my chin up and get myself outside.

To that end, I went on an easy hike today: Bear Lake to Emerald Lake. It was easy in the sense that it’s an easy trail to drive to, an easy trail to follow, and an easy trail to complete in a few hours and without having to worry about carrying gallons of water or packing a big meal to sustain my energy.

Alas, it was also a difficult hike. Difficult in the sense that I had lost my acclimation to higher altitudes which meant I huffed and puffed my way from Bear Lake to Nymph Lake to Dream Lake to Emerald Lake. It was embarrassing. Tourists from Florida were walking faster than me (though I’m quite certain they were getting themselves into trouble without realizing it and would be nursing a helluva headache by the end of the day).

I did my best to ignore the difficulties and focus on the fact that it was a truly exhilarating day: perfect temperature, bluebird skies, delightful fall colors, friendly people. All of this easily made up for (or at least distracted me from) my humiliating lack of thin-air endurance.

As you can deduce from the pictures I’ve posted here, the aspens are changing color fast above 9000 feet. In some places, the wind has already stripped trees of their golden leaves entirely. I snapped shots hoping to capture some of the magnificent blaze of autumnal color. Last year, I made many trips to the mountains during September. I haven’t been able to do that this year. So I’ve missed the first burst of color and am now playing catch-up with the camera, hoping to photograph this year’s transition.

On an unrelated note, I made a few adjustments to my website recently. I cleaned up some visual clutter and fine-tuned the layout to optimize white space. I added the required code to comply with that annoying EU cookie consent law. I also added photo links to the previous and next post to the bottom of each post. I mention these changes for my own reference, as a record of how the site has developed. I find that after years of working this and other websites, they are never finished. They need constant care, thoughtful pruning, and kind nurturing. They are much like little digital bonsai trees.

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Assortment

A Hot Day in May
A Hot Day in May
It was the kind of weather that wilts flowers. The temperature climbed to ninety degrees and the air grew thick and soupy by mid-morning.
Weary of the Wind Chill
Weary of the Wind Chill
It’s four degrees outside. You can count them on one hand and have a thumb to spare: one, two, three, four. There is a severe lack of temperature happening outside the thin wall of my office.
Mesa Trail
Mesa Trail
Today is the second day in a row of cool mist, light showers, and autumnal temperatures. I venture out mid-morning hoping to log a quick local hike before the trails turn too slop. I begin my hike at NCAR and trek northward along the Mesa Trail—two miles out, two miles back.