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The savage frustrations of the fall

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
John Gardner Post IndependentNo Aspens in sight " Lower Savage Lake on the last day of summer in the Holy Cross Wilderness area. The Savage Lakes hike, a two-mile strenuous hike, climbs nearly 1,160 feet of elevation and tops off at over 11,000 feet.
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HOLY CROSS WILDERNESS, Colorado ” Fall is a very frustrating season for me.

Ask me any time during the first nine months of the year, and I’ll tell you that I hate the fall season. Ask me the end of September when the fall season is turning the green Aspen trees a rusted-golden hue that everyone seems to love, and I really hate it.

Each year, I find myself frustrated in anticipation of winter at the end of another unforgettable summer season. From days that extend much longer than one wants to be awake unveiling a plethora of outdoor adventures, opening people up to the power of mother nature’s caress: To other less-strenuous activities like relaxing on the back porch with an ice cold beer which is always a welcome mat for conversation.



Summer has a lock on the number two season.

This summer I again visited the summit of Mount Sopris and swore I would never hike it again, just like I said after the first time. I took my hiking companion, Alyssa Law, to the lakes of Red Feather in the Roosevelt National Forest, a place where I spent much of my childhood playing a mini-me version of Bear Grylls. It was there I rediscovered the unique draw of the Medicine Bow Mountain Range where my footprints have been ghosts for more than a decade.



But, I’ve also experienced many new adventures. I’ve hiked the slick rocks of Moab and camped atop a picturesque plateau with silence so severe that Alyssa and I felt like we were the only people in all of Utah that night.

I’ve experienced the vastness of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area with a local four wheeling club, Hi Country 4 Wheelers, that again made me realize why Jeeps are so much fun and question why anyone would want to live in a city. And let’s not forget the bike rides along the Rio Grand Trail and tubing with friends on the Colorado River. This was a summer of first-time adventures with a twist of nostalgia.

Then, with the flip of another page on the calendar, fall takes hold with its shorter days and cooler temperatures that automatically tickle my brain with thoughts of winter. That’s when I find myself locked into day dreaming about 18″ powder days on the board.

But with at least two solid months of fall before the first tracks of the season will be laid I find myself frustrated and wondering what it is about fall that baffles me. I’ve often said, “Fall would be much better if it were only a single month.”

I also often speak in haste.

I understand why people like the changing of the Aspen leaves, but come on. Could you imagine an extra two months of winter wonderland? Please.

Nonetheless, I can’t argue that fall makes the winter all that more enjoyable for me, like a 5-year-old’s building anticipation the few weeks before Christmas eyeing the oversized and neatly wrapped package tucked behind the tree.

This year, on September 21, the last day of summer, Alyssa and I enjoyed the remaining summer weather with a fitting hike to Savage Lakes in the Holy Cross Wilderness. What a great name for a place with such uncontrolled beauty.

I found myself at the lower of the two lakes, on a path so sparsely traveled it was easy to lose the way, meandering around just enjoying the place where I was at. The realization came to me that fall, through all of its savage beauty, is much like the short and strenuous hike to Savage Lakes. It’s an adventure to get there, and then there’s a period of calm before heading back down the hill.

Fall is the calm when life and nature slow down in preparation for the winter season. It’s the best time of year to relax at home on a chilly evening with a good book or a movie. And yet, there’s still opportunity for a mid-afternoon hike that would otherwise be unbearable in the summer heat.

I will forever think of fall as my least favorite season. However, if this is as bad as it gets, it’s all good.


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