Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

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Quaking Aspens

The five of us, Jet, John, Isabel, George, and I went on a two day adventure up in the Rockies to look a the turning of the leaves. This area has a lot of quaking aspen, which are aspens with long, slender stems on the leaves, so with every touch of a breeze, all the leaves flutter. With the slow dying season, and the gradual lessening of the light, the chlorophyll production drops and the leaves show their original colors to the world and burn bright colors in the dying time.

Most of the leaves go yellow, some few in the higher elevations, where the light burns brighter and the cold cuts deeper, turn flame orange or even burn briefly red. They're all offset by the multitude of cool forest green firs, and gleam and glitter like gold set in velvet as any spirit of a wind drifts by. Sometimes the leaves shower down like a rain of gold. I can see why fairy gold might be these leaves. We went up, closer yet to the sun (sometimes we were two miles above sea level, where the sun burns both colder and fiercer), and drove by mountains with flanks furred in green and streaked in blood and gold and the silver of the fall streams cutting the way that the roads, only later, followed.

We ended up by Grand Lake, in the old Indian parlance, it was Spirit Lake, like the lake in Washington state that was named Spirit Lake and then drained to power a power station. So this Spirit Lake is still a lake, though small by our NorthWest standards, it's the largest natural lake in Colorado. It also had sandy beaches, was surrounded by trees, and in the morning was as smooth and clear as glass. We stayed the night there, and Jet played in the grass by its shores, and we watched the wilderness around us.

Jet didn't quite know what to make of a strange crib in a room shared with us noise makers, up at an altitude where he dried out much faster than down in his own room. I found myself with a really nasty rash from the sunlight, and it made it hard to sleep. It was a mildly crazy night, but we all survived it and even slept a little.

We spent the second day wending through Rocky Mountain National Park, up above the tree line, walking the way up past 12,000 feet and getting blasted in the teeth with the wind at the top. It always amuses me to be greeted at the top with a sign that says that we're above the top of the 'Famed Mt. Hood in Oregon'. Jet was wrapped up in a purple bunting and he kept trying to get out and greet the wind head-on. I guess we named him appropriately. He was cherub like at the top with plenty of people to congratulate him on having other people carry him up the steppes, and he squinted at the now much brighter sun.

The visitor's center, that seemed so cold when we first got there, was balmy and warm when we got down. Amazing how the temperature changes... :-)

Quite the adventure.

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