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[cdt-l] The last days of Autumn, a trip report

After several unusually warm days in Boulder (highs of
almost 90!), Fall finally came to town. Saturday
morning was crisp, almost cold. Went to the usual
rendezvous point for many backcountry excursions: Cafe
Sole. Arrived a good 1/2 hr early, bought a bagel and
filled my trusty coffee mug with some dark roast (a
bit of cream, no sugar). The others arrived, we looked
at the topos and drove to the trailhead.

Arrived at the 4th of July trail head to see a fresh
coating of approx. 2" of snow. The day was brisk, but
unbelievably clear. We climbed up to a plateau and
went to the abandoned remains of the 4th of July
mining operation. The machinery, though rusted, were
still very intact. Through out Colorado, you will
often see these 100 year old remains of mining.
Testament to a part of Colorado's history that has all
but vanished. Only a few end holdings (and many large
corporate mining operations) are all that remains in
>From the site of the mine, the view was exquisite. 
Though it was cold out, the warm sun beated down on us
and seemed to be just enough to enjoy lunch while
soaking up the panorama in front of us.

After lunch, we continued our climb. We reached
another spot that lent itself to stopping and enjoying
the view. Could see Arapahoe Pass on the divide quite
clearly and Diamond Lake below, already starting to
form ice around its edges.  The tundra we sat upon was
rather warm; so warm it invited one to take a short
winters nap.

With the desire for a nap finally passed, continued up
to the saddle just below the summit of South Arapahpoe
Peak. From the saddle, had a clear view of Araphoe
Glacier. The glacier is large enough to have
crevasses. As the of the late 1920's, this glacier was
owned by the city of Boulder for its water supply. The
entire basin below the surrounding ridges are off
limits to all non-authorized personnel. With the lakes
and glacier, it was an impressive sight; would be
awesome to hike.  Alas, this area is heavily
patrolled. Infra-red sensors abound and there are
armed patrol people. Post 9/11, things are a bit

In any case, such thoughts were brief. It was now time
to climb to the 13400' summit of S. Arapahoe. Had a
class 2 scramble to the top that was somewhat steep.
On the top, enjoyed the unbelievably clear views.  The
summit marker dates back to 1928 and points to any
other mountains viewed in the distance. Sure enough,
could see Pikes Peaks 100 miles south. To the north
was Longs Peak. The two most famous 14ers in Colorado
bracketed the view. In between, could see James Peak
on the CDT, the Gore Range. Could also see Greys,
Torrie, Bierstadt and Evans -also 14ers. 

On the summit, broke out some cocoa. The bit of warmth
in the stomach was welcome on the cold peak. After
enjoying the views a bit more, we started to make our
way down to the car. As we hiked down the trail, it
became colder and colder. The sun was starting to go
behind the mountains and we were in the shadows.  By
the time we reached the car, could see our breath and
could feel the chill of winter in the air.

Another glorious day in the Colorado mountains. It was
also my last Fall hike in the high country. With snow
expected this Thurs. in the foothills, and Boulder
itself as well, winter will soon be here at lower
elevations.  It has been a good run this Spring
through Fall.  Now it is time to get my thick wool
mittens out, my shell bibs ready. The snowshoes and
skis are next to the winter backpack. The Sorrels have
a fresh coating of sno-seal. Winter is here. And with
winter, a different experience in the backcountry. But
an equally beautiful way to see the mountains.

Pics can be seen at:


The true harvest of my life is intangible.... a little stardust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched