September and October, sometimes even November, are usually among my favorite hiking months. The fall light is lovely, seeping through the deep yellow leaves. The mountain sides, the creek sides are blanketed by aspens and willows turning yellow, gold and occasionally red. I have walked among them filled with delight at the sight and sound of those leaves (especially the Aspens) humming in the breeze.
This has not been a typical year on Colorado's front range. And as a friend and I mused recently, the loss of our hiking access and damage to the local trails is small when compared to friends who lost everything and others who are dealing with lower level living spaces that are not yet habitable. Few basements in Boulder County are used as storage and junk areas. Instead folks extend their living spaces by finishing basements into bedrooms, recreation rooms and great rooms. One friend even had a grand piano in her finished basement that flooded.
I drove into the edges of the high country--across a pass and down into Georgetown. I found a picnic area in which to eat a sandwich I'd brought along. There were pull offs with short walks, but it wasn't like hiking among the leaves. I did love the grandeur of golden mountain sides more fully covered in aspens than those up Boulder Canyon and on view from the RMNP trails. First we couldn't get up the canyons to reach the park; then the park closed, and now the leaves have dropped from their branches.
This time of finding open trails in the flats of Boulder, watching for and taking walks on parts of trails as they opened, and finally driving, Wednesday afternoon, up the newly opened Boulder Canyon Drive to Nederland, has made me think about how I would find the release and nourishment that my usual hiking brings should I decide to move back to Nashville. There, to find the up trails that I love, would also entail a drive--perhaps to Monteagle or Sewanee. There are parks with trails in Nashville, as there are here--not as many for the area, but they exist. However, I spent many more hours walking or running on sidewalks and streets years ago when I lived there.
I haven't yet found the answer to not really hiking--just taking long walks or going on a trail until I reached the yellow tape that closed the remainder of the trail--doesn't give me that release, that sense of being away, of the challenge of going a little farther, of standing in awe, of being alone in God's beautiful world. I did do a panorama of past year's golden hikes--I didn't have to look at photos to go there. I know there could come a day when that's the only way I can enjoy the fall season, and I'm grateful to not yet have reached that time. There are more changing colors at the nearby park and the Boulder Reservoir path a five-minute drive away has re-opened. I will walk there this morning, and I will enjoy it. However, I haven't yet found the answer to doing without mountain hikes. The search continues.