It’s fall in the west. I first heard of “leaf peepers” last week. I thought I had to them avoid at all costs. The name instantly triggered images of creepers in the woods: autumn voyeurs. Turns out, they’re just people taking the time to check out the foliage and incidentally, I’m one of them. This autumn Colorado trip has me reeling in splendor. I hardly knew the changing season in the Rockies was so vibrant.
I have a very brief history as a leaf peeper. Growing up in Anchorage, the leaves didn’t go through a stunning color change. Many of the trees didn’t have leaves. If they did, they either turned brown and fell off or they were covered in snow before anything else happened. My first encounter with leaf peeping was back east. On our first bike trip, Nick and I chased the fall colors from Montreal until we hit the coast in Myrtle Beach. I was blown away by the maple, birch and oak. The eastern leaves transitioned through colors on the rustic spectrum: burnt oranges, warm reds and mustard yellows. I felt nostalgic for experiences I’d never had.
I can’t say that western leaf peeping tops that in the east, but it’s worth taking a look. The contrast of the aspen against the big blue sky, the Columbia Pictures clouds and the Rocky mountains are a real wonder.
We’ve spent the past week above 6,000 feet. Nightly frosts follow toasty days. The air is chill and makes me appreciate clear days and dry sunny heat. Around 11,000 feet we’ve encountered snow and plenty of mud, another reminder that I want to cruise south. Heading for Nouveau Mexique.