Last Sunday was a gorgeous blue day with just the hint of fall in the air, a perfect day for driving into Rocky Mountain National Park and searching for some Colorado fall foliage to view. Whether it was the wet spring or the mild fall temperatures, it seems like the aspen are turning late this year. I decided to consult the experts.According to the U.S. Forest Service: “A warm wet spring, favorable summer weather, and warm sunny fall days with cool nights should produce the most brilliant autumn colors.”That sounded like the Rocky Mountains in Northern Colorado to me.My wife Lori and I drove to the Upper Beaver Meadows turnoff, just a couple miles from the Beaver Meadows entrance. It was around 9:30 a.m. but there were plenty of parking spots at the trailhead.We walked through a meadow the grasses turning a golden brown and into a forest of ponderosa pine. We heard a bull elk bugle in the distance, but it seemed far away, perhaps in the trees along the moraine that separated Beaver Meadows from Moraine Park.We walked along the beginning of the Ute Trail that takes you above tree line to the tundra and Trail Ridge Road. About ten minutes later a hiker approached from the other direction. She looked distressed.“A bear and her two cubs are on the trail,” she exclaimed. “The mother stared into my eyes.”Things get dangerous when you get between a mother bear and her cubs, so we changed our hiking destination. We backtracked down the Ute Trail and turned south at the intersection that took us to the moraine.We passed by a ravine thick with aspen. The trees were still green, but a lighter green and dry, rattling like tiny cymbals in the breeze. It seemed to us that they were on the verge of turning. We climbed to the top of the moraine and the grand expanse of Longs Peak appeared, its shoulders dusted with snow. We found a rock in the sun and enjoyed the view. The only changing aspen we saw were tiny patches in the distance.We didn’t see any changing aspen close up, but that didn’t change a wonderful morning in the mountains. We expect next weekend to be glorious and the peak to come soon thereafter.
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