pot

The Quietly Changing Seasons

Warm autumnal light among the aspen

‘Then there was the good weather. It would come in one day when the summer was over.’

Apologies to Ernest Hemingway and the opening lines of A Moveable Feast, but I couldn’t help thinking of that quiet commencement as I had a walk up to Puerto Nambe, high above Santa Fe, after last week’s subtle ending of summer, in a day and night of cold, steady rain. The best weather for hiking in the Southern Rockies is here, and the mountains are glowing with warm light and changing leaves. The first flush of the yellow aspen is spreading over the peaks:

Looking south from the trail ascending to Puerto Nambe

Frost has reached the forest floor with colorful results:

Thimbleberry dotting the forest floor

The Winsor Trail leaves the Ski Santa Fe parking lot at a high elevation, well within the spruce-aspen forest, and while you will gain even more altitude if you follow the trail all the way to Puerto Nambe, you will never leave the forest. You’ll be accompanied by chickadees flitting from branch to branch, so close you can almost touch them, juncos rustling along the forest floor, and pine squirrels scolding you from their fragrant perches as they stuff their faces with seeds from their spruce larder:

Englemann Spruce cones sharing their abundance

The trails are littered with the brown scales of these cones, discarded by winter-wary chickarees.

As you climb higher into the Nambe Creek watershed, views open up in all directions:

Looking west down Nambe Creek

Soon you’ll feel like you’re truly in the Rockies, with forested peaks surrounding you

Lake Peak in the south

and a sky that almost hurts your eyes:

Alpine sky

Even the stones seem to throw back an inner light.

Milky quartz and alpine plants

For the next month or so these high country trails will be at their best, so if you’re coming out for a visit, please make time for a walk in the mountains. The color change will peak in about two weeks, among the aspen, but the hiking will be wonderful well into October. Come indulge in a truly moveable feast.

fireplace