frying pan river lodge

"Frying Pan River Lodge" 


Julian's Blog

Sunday, July 7, 2014. Josephine Lake.

Today we decided to try a new hike - Josephine Lake. It seemed like an attractive option because it is nearer to Basalt than the Aspen-centred hikes (like American Lake, Cathedral Lake and Lost Man Lake), and could easily be hiked in one day. According to Warren Olrich´s Guide to Aspen to Glenwood Trails, the climb is from 9,250 to 11,560 feet, and the distance some 8 miles.

Great choice. This will be among my favourites, especially when I have friends or family staying in Basalt or up the Frying Pan.

* Its not a hard or steep climb. Instead you can comfortably walk at a steady pace.

* It is off the beaten track. You won´t be trampled by a horde of people. Indeed, we saw no-one going up. The first folks we encountered had camped the night up on the ridge overlooking the lake.

* The vegetation is as varied as any hike in the valley. The trail starts in heavy aspen wood, which soon turns to confers. Parts of the conifer woods have streams running through them and some wetland vegetation. Later one comes to two separate marshy meadows that serve as a great counter-point to all the heavy dark green trees. Across these meadows one can see the ridge leading to Savage Mountain where the trail ends. Although we did not see elk or deer in these meadows, I can well imagine surprising such creatures in these areas. In addition, most of the trail is shaded, so one doesn't run the same risk of being baked as is the case on American Lake or Cathedral.

* Arriving at the ridge to Savage Mountain, and looking back down our trail, I was struck by the majesty of the views toward the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness, from Sopris to Snowmass Peak to the Bells themselves.

* There is a plethora of bird life. Our favourites were the Red-Naped Sapsucker (which looks a lot like a woodpecker, and seems to go through much of the same wood pecking routine), the hairy woodpecker (whose aggressive pecking could be heard from quite a distance) and a little Warbler who sat on a log bedside us and started making clicking sounds like a Xhosa bushman, or like your tut-tutting maiden aunt who objects to all the fun things you do.

Arriving at the ridge about Josephine Lake, we decided not to drop down to the lake itself. The route is rocky and extremely steep. Great for spraining an ankle and then not being able to rise and climb back out again. Instead, we doubled back a little and climbed higher to a spot overlooking the lake, commanding a wonderful 360 degree view of the Holy Cross and Collegiate Mountains, as well as the Snowmass/ Marroon Bells ranges.

We had lunch up here and headed down before the afternoon rains. Total walking time, about 4 hours.

The drive from Basalt is about 45 minutes.


Saturday July 12, 2014

This weekend I wanted to spend some time working on the land and around the house:  a bench to build, a pond to fix, some re-seeding to be done.  So we decided to do two short morning hikes, giving ourselves time for the home based activities in the afternoon.  On Saturday, Aspen featured "Music on the Mountain" at the top of Aspen Mountain, so we decided to walk the Ute Trail and then continue to the top of Aspen Mountain to listen to the music starting at 1.00 pm.

I have to admit to mixed feelings about the Ute Trail.  If you are looking for a workout in the gym, but you want to be outdoors, you can do worse than join the other Aspen-based workout fanatics who make the Ute Trail an intrinsic part of their daily routine.  The first stage of this trail takes you up to a collection of rocks overlooking Aspen town and the road up toward Independence Pass.  You will not be alone.  In the 47 minutes that it took us to reach the rocks, we encountered 51 people.  Three of them were talking on their cell phones, and one lady was happily “sharing” her music with whoever happened to be in the vicinity.  Do not expect to see bird or wildlife.  Your views are mostly of the tops of houses and hotel buildings, and rather than the sound of aspen leaves shimmering, you can expect to here the drone of vehicles making their way up Highway 82.

But the second part of the trail is pretty.  We walked along the ridge that leads to such Double Black Diamond Trails as Bingo, Jackpot and Gentlemen´s Gulch.  Here our companions were a different crowd.  Mostly young locals hiking up to hear the music, taking their dogs, enjoying the weather and avoiding the cost of the Gondola.  The downhill trip is free.  Once at the top of Aspen Mountain, we broke out our sandwiches, washed them down with a cold Stella Artois and headed over to listen to the free concert (four trombonists).

Expect the first part of the Ute Trail to take between 40 and 50 minutes.  The second part is longer, and will take between an hour and 90 minutes.


Sunday July 13.

Today´s short hike was up the Ruedi Overlook Trail.  This is a great hike for children.  Short.  Shaded.  Lots of interesting bug life and flowers.  Take bug spray.  We met a delightful family – mom and dad both carrying 13 month old twins, and the 8 year old sister fascinated by all that was going on around her.  We met at the top of the trail, where there is a spectacular view of Ruedi Lake, and studied some bees digging in the sandy soil.  One bee would dig like a fox terrier, spraying sand out behind him, only for another bee to come along seconds later and dig in the opposite direction, spraying sand onto the area where the first bee had been digging.  Most confusing.

But, we jump ahead.  It was such a beautiful day, not too hot, and no thunderclouds threatening, that we decided to ride our bikes up to Ruedi from about half way up Frying Pan Road.  If you ride from Basalt it will take you between 75 and 90 minutes to the dam.   Today, at about mile 11.4, where the slope on the other side of the river becomes steep rocky cliffs, we heard a loud, incessant shrieking.  Someone or something was not at all happy.  We stopped, and, following the sound, we spotted a mother eagle encouraging her shrieking, petrified baby off the cliffs.  As the baby squawked desperately, flapping its wings to little avail, and dropping unhappily toward the river, the mother eagle swooped under her baby and lifted it on her back, still flapping and shrieking.  Then she fell away, rolled, looped above her infant and again swooped underneath for another helping lift.  Extraordinary, except that these things are happening all the time in this valley.  All you have to do is keep your eyes open.

Later, near the top of the Overlook hike, we were watching a Variegated Fritillary butterfly flitting from flower to flower, mostly to the yarrow and the purplish phacelia.  But then it made a poor choice and alighted on a stick that was resting on a spider´s web.  In a split second quiate a large spider, darted across the web and spun its twine around the butterfly, tying it up in a cocoon shape.  I thought that was the end of the story, but nature is never that simple.  No sooner had the butterfly been secured, another smaller, more venomous spider, darted out of hiding and bit the large spider. It became inert.  At that point the small spider, hurried over to the entangled butterfly, picked it up and set off with his prize in his venomous little jaws.



Wednesday July 16, 2014

How often do you think about the American Indians and their animal symbols, their relationship with the birds and creatures that surrounded them.  I guess that, like me, the thought seldom crosses your mind.  Well tonight it crossed mine.  I wondered about the symbolism of the following series of events, about what it was the Gods were telling me.

We decided to take an evening ride up to Ruedi Lake.  It had rained in the afternoon.  There was no need to water the meadow and it was unlikely that it would rain again.  As we started the ride I had a feeling, a premonition, that we would see something interesting.  Early in the ride we spotted a bald eagle atop a fir tree.  We stopped and watched him for a while, but he was motionless.  Nothing distracted him.  As we started the final climb to the lake, the part that hugs the mountain on the left and drops dramatically down to the river on the right, Angelica saw ahead of us what appeared to be a small coyote.  It was trotting gently along the mountain side, mostly in the short grass, but occasionally stepping into the road.  We drew nearer and he seemed unphased.  Then we noticed his long grey tail, tipped with white, and the russet brown of his haunches.  A Grey Fox.  Rather small, and definitely thin.  In fact he seemed really tired, even exhausted.  At one point he stepped out into the road, not 15 yards in front of us, stopped, stretched out his front legs and posed in the yoga “dog down” position.  Then he resumed his trotting in the grass, at this stage just across the road from us. He was definitely hungry and hunting.  Suddenly, with two leaps, he had a mouse in his mouth.  He looked again at us for a couple of seconds, as if to say goodbye, and then took his catch into the higher grass and proceeded to chew.

Returning from the Lake we caught sight of a blue heron, close against the opposite bank, stalking quietly, almost motionless, but attentive.  His grace and beautiful lines contrasting with the strong majesty of the eagle, and the soft, almost feline, feel of the fox.  Finally, as we rode past the rapids at mile 10, there was a spray, like one sees at waterfalls, above the river.  It was not spray because the rapids do not give off that much leaping water.  Was it the veil of a water goddess ascending from the rapids?  Was it the river itself rising to meet the setting sun?

What does this confluence of images and appearances mean?  The eagle, firm like the crown on a totem pole.  The fox, delicate and beautiful, but hunting and successful.  The heron, symbol of grace, poised as it stalked.  The spray from the river.  I could not help but think of our Native American predecessors who lived so much closer to the land and understood the meaning of these things.


Saturday July 19.

A beautiful day for a long hike.  Cloudy but not likely to rain, so probably cool.  We decided on one of the longer day hikes, Lost Man Lake Loop.  Its not really a loop, like an O  or a D.  Its more of  C in which the line that would connect the two ends of the C is Highway 82, from Aspen to Independence Pass.  Most people hike this from the top down, but I prefer from bottom up for several reasons.  First, it is easier on the knees going up than coming down.  Second, the highlight of the hike is Lost Man Lake, which is about 2.5 miles from the start if you start at the top, but some 6.5 miles if you start at the bottom, and, like the kids who leave the cherry on the cake until the end, I prefer to leave this highlight, and the beautiful lunch spot that it offers, to near the end of the hike.   Third, the stretch from Lost Man Lake to the top trailhead is out of Sound of Music.  A broad, clear, green valley dotted with white and yellow wild flowers.  This valley is perfect for a descent when you are tired.

So, we left the car at the top, rode bicycles down to the bottom trailhead, and walked up.  Not much bird or animal life today, but plenty of interesting flowers.  Unlike the earlier hikes, there was a ton of columbine, in all stages of bloom, Indian paintbrush and larkspur, offering a rash of colours.  But also interesting were the ptarmigans, which can be seen in the rocky stretch on the approach to Lost Man Lake.  These interesting birds change colour from winter (white with brown specks) to summer (a mottled brown with grey) and have a tendency to shoot up from the bush in front of you as you hike.  I thought about the origin of the word.  Is it Egyptian, like the writer and scientist from Alexandria, Ptolemy.  Or is it Greek, like pterodactyl.  Upon consulting my Oxford English Dictionary, I discovered that it is neither.  It is a simple English word, originally spelled without a p, but then, in 1684, a certain Sibbald identified the bird with a p, and so it was for ever after.

This is a beautiful hike, although long (9 miles).  It offers great places to picnic by the lake, and to fish for brook trout.  In the Sound of Music valley, there are several spots to rest beside the narrow cascading stream that becomes the Roaring Fork river.


Friday July 25

Too much work this week.  Time for a break.  This weekend we have the Carbondale Mountain Fair.  Carbondale is the antidote to Aspen.  When I tire of the hoopla, and the circus of Aspen, I retire to Carbondale.  An old farming community, now a kind of aging hippies hangout.  The Fair starts with a dedication and a drum circle at 4.00 in the afternoon.  There were over 300 people gathered in the circle.  Most with drums, but also some with primitive noise tools, sticks, empty water containers, bells and tambourines.   Angelica and I went with our djembes, and were in the minority, with the majority playing kettle drums and Native American drums.  The variety of instruments set up an interesting dynamic in the playing.  The larger drums setting a basic rhythm, and the djembes playing grace notes and the varying tones.

This fair is one of a kind.  Everyone is totally relaxed and there is huge variety of musical performances. The food is great (I had samosas from Gandhi), and the range of interesting products on sale is impressive.


Tuesday, July 29

Planned to do the 7 Castles hike with some friends from Australia but backed out because of the storm last night.  The 7 Castles hike is up a narrow gulley between two of the “Castles”, and has all the characteristics of a place you would not want to be when the gully floods.  Think of 128 Hours, the movie about Aaron Ralston getting caught in a gully in Moab, and you know what I mean.


Seven Castles.

Wednesday, July 30.

Thunderstorms again last night.  This time really heavy and even some rain seeped into the tent.  Driving down to Basalt in the morning I noticed that a portion of the river was chocolate brown.  Checking it out on the way back, sure enough, it was the 7 Castles cfreek that had flooded, sweeping up trees, water pipes and even large rocks, as it thundered down the narrow opening between the tall, steep sides.  I need to check it out when it dries.


Thursday, July 31.

This is the season when deciding what to do becomes really difficult.  With all the rain of the past two days, we decided to hike American Lake, hoping that the wildflowers would be blooming brilliantly.  That´s the morning assignment, but what about the afternoon and evening?  We were torn between:
               A discussion of how Mandela´s moral influence changed South Africa, at 4.00 pm in Aspen.

               A free concert in the Basalt Library (they have them every Thursday) featuring a classical saxophonist and some other reed instrument players.  At 5.15.

               The Snowmass free concert on the hill, featuring the California Honey Drops (kinda jazzy doowop).  At 6.15

               Chris Isaak at 10.00 at Belly Up.
Now, if I were younger, I would do all of them.  Might be tight to catch the Mandela story in Aspen and the concert in Basalt, but, hey, the music, we can do it all.  Alas, age has crept up on me, and after American lake, the Basalt library and dinner in town seemed the best bet.  Even though I do love Chris Isaak, especially his Forever Blue album.

American Lake is a lovely hike.  Maybe the second hike to do when you come to the valley after Hunter Creek.  Not hard.  Very pretty.  The Lake is crystalline and the mountains behind the lake impressive.  But the best part may be the initial stretch through the aspen forest.  Parts of the Maroon bells hike have the same delicate mass of aspens, but on the American Lake hike the backdrop behind the trees is a spectacular view across the Castle Creek valley. 

It threatened rain all the way up, and on the way down the threat became reality.  One of those classic end of July/August storms which come with a great wind, hail and lots of noise.  As the storm passed and moved across the highway to pummel the hill on the east side of the valley, the sound of the hail hitting the trees and rocks reverberated so long it sounded like a squadron of airplanes passing overhead.

In the evening we were not disappointed.  The Basalt Library concert series is a jewel.  Mostly musicians from the Aspen Music School, playing in an intimate setting.  This evening, saxophone Fellow at the school, Sam Williams, blew us all away with his rendering of modern work by a Japanese composer heavily influenced by a Japanese bamboo flute instrument.

Tomorrow, Sarah Chang plays Dvorak in the Benedict tent.  Another shitty day in paradise.

Saturday, August 2

OK, I know Sarah Chang is world famous, award winning, etc.  But, honestly, I preferred listening to Sam Williams massaging, pummelling, squeezing his sax to produce the most original work of music I have heard in ages.

Today finally broke cloud free and blue.  Time to investigate the gully-washer at 7 Castles.   This beautiful short hike has lots of memories for me, and I wanted to see how the gulley washer had changed it.  I love to do this hike first thing in the morning, like 6.00 am, just as the sun is peaking out over the Holy Cross Wilderness.  The gully runs north south, and the path runs beside the stream, on its east bank.  So, as the sun rises, you see a line of sunlight hitting the red rock on the western side, and the line gradually drops down the rock face as the day progresses. In most places the path is between 3 to 12 feet higher than the stream so you are often looking down into the stream, sometimes crossing it, and sometimes jumping from side to side finding stones to step on.  One memory is from the summer of 2013.  I was hiking up at around 6.15, on a part of the path that was some 10 feet above the stream.  As I rounded a tree I saw a black bear in the stream directly below me.  He had his head down as he walked and so he did not see me; he did not hear me because of the rippling of the stream, and he did not smell me because I was above and down wind of him.  As quietly as I could, I pulled out my camera and filmed him as he walked down the river for almost a minute.

For me, this hike takes me to one of the places where my gods reside.  The hike follows the stream up the gulley to three waterfalls.  At the first waterfall there is a large cave where 3 or 4 people can sleep comfortably.  Here lives the first goddess, Mother Earth.  The cave resonates with her presence.  To the side of the cave is the first waterfall.  This waterfall can be climbed with the help of a rope that is affixed and hangs down the face of the waterfall.  A little later the second waterfall, somewhat smaller, also with a rope to its side, is easily climbed.  But it is at the third waterfall that the gods of water and wind play.  The stream bubbles spritely over the edge of the cliff, falling some 40 feet to a pool, splashing, spraying, creating a mist that blesses the small amphitheatre below.  Today I see the mark of the awful power of the gully washer.  The red rocks on the side of the amphitheatre are wet up to about 10 feet high.  I imagine how terrifying was the force of that water when the clouds opened and all the rivulets and streams around fed into this gully.


Wednesday, August 6.

Quiet week so far, so I was happy when my daughter suggested we visit the Snowmass Rodeo.  This is a fun event if you have kids.  A lovely setting, at the base of Snowmass Village.  Masses of people milling around, most of them dressed like they dropped a ton of money in an expensive Western wear store.  Even the kids have fancy boots, hats and scarves.  And some folks who just come every week to see their friends and hang out.  The usual hoopla with flags and anthems and songs about mothers not letting their sons grow up to be cowboys, but everyone digging the cowboy ethic, at least for the evening.  For the young kids the highlight might be the mutton grabbing contest.  Hilarious.  Tiny kids lie prostrate (and probably terrified) on the backs of very wooly sheep as they bolt out of the gate.  Most kids last about 3 seconds, but one determined youth from Basalt hung on so hard, even as he was sliding earthward, that his mutton´s forelegs gave way under him.  Visions of Odysseus evading the Cyclops.  Another fun event for the kids is Capture the Ribbon, in which a horde of wild preschoolers chase a small herd of calves around the ring.  The secret to victory, my daughter explained, is not to be in the first wave of attackers who run up the middle.  Instead, lie back and wait on the edges.  The calves scatter to the sides as their attackers approach, and then you have them pinned and alone.

For the adults, after the excitement of people watching, the barrel racing is amazing.  How DO those girls hang on?  And the Bull riding.  Those cowboys must need good chiropractors.

Thursday, August 7.

Angelica´s last day, and forecast of rain in the afternoon.  We decided on a drive to Redstone and then hike up Avalanche Trail.  This is a great plan, combining the exercise and beauty of the hike with the interest of a quaint old company town.  Here is what the Redstone website has to say about itself:
Fortunes were won, lost and consumed and coal was ing. John Cleveland Osgood, the sixth richest and most private of the elite industrialists known as the Robber Barons, built Redstone to give substance to his business ideas – a perplexing mix of feudalism, capitalism and industrial paternalism.   Completed in 1902 Redstone was the utopian coal town with the castle for Osgood and his succession of three wives, the Redstone Inn for the bachelor cokers (coke oven workers), 85 cottages for the cokers’ families; a theater, a school, a library, a lodge and a clubhouse.

The hike is pretty and short (less than two hours up and back).  It runs beside a river most of the way and ends up by a delightful waterfall.  Lunch at the Redstone Inn (the living quarters of the bachelor coke oven workers), tasted good after the walk.  In the afternoon we wandered the quaint stores of the settlement, and purchased several knick knacks and antiques to take home to Mexico.

Thursday, August 14

The children have been in town for the past week, so not many adventurous activities.  But today I decided to see what all the hype and noise surrounding the Aspen Museum was about.  Seems like every day there is another editorial about how monstrous the building is. How out of place. How it is a symbol of how Aspen is changing as billionaire money comes into town.   Well.  It is not that big.  Yes it is three stories, and yes it dwarfs the charming buildings on East Hyman Avenue.  But it is not monstrous.  Admittedly its design bears no relationship to the rest of Aspen, but it is not garish, except for the luminous purple human sized letters spelling With Liberty and Justice for All.  It is designed by a Japanese artist, who recently won the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, so it has the pedigree. But I was left wondering how this cube shaped edifice blended into Aspen.  Maybe it is not intended to do so.  Or maybe this is the new Aspen.  Go see it for yourselves because, as with most commentaries, my comments tell more about me than about the Museum.  The ad agency who did the brochure, photos etc. is from New York.

This evening was the last evening of the Basalt Library free concert series, and it was spectacular.  I was fortunate to be able to witness, hear and enjoy, one of the next generation of gifted, genius, musicians, who will play luminous music for us for years to come.  Stephen Kim, only 16 years old, but already the winner of numerous awards including The Aspen Music School´s award for Violin, was sublime.  His rendering of Chopin´s Nocturne no. 8, modified for piano and violin, brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience, including myself.  In questions after the performance, when asked about his focus, he answered simply and humbly:  “I just hope I have touched your hearts, and that I can make my music be as immaculate as possible.”   Touch us he did, and immaculate it was.  These performance, every Thursday at 5.15 during the season, are another of Basalt´s numerous gems.

Friday, August 15.

What do you do if you have to go into Glenwood to run an errand, shop at Lowes, pay a parking ticket, visit your dentist, or for any other good reason.  I had to leave my car with the dealer from 8.30 to 1.00 for maintenance.  Ugh.  So, loading the bike on the back of the car I headed into town.  The dealership is on the west side of town, but I decided to ride east to Hanging Lake, and to hike up to the Lake.  Once out of Glenwood, and up the road (I 70) about half a mile, the bike path drops down to the river and is delightful.  Riding past the Shoshone Rapids I see a group of whitewater rafters hooting and hollering as they hit the rapids.  That is a fun trip, too.  Hanging Lake is one crowded hike, but unlike the folks on the Ute, who are timing themselves and are ticked when you don’t get out of the way quick enough, this group is mostly families and young folks taking a leisurely stroll.    I was happy to see so many young kids (8 to 10) really enjoying themselves, even though parts of the hike are steep.  In a couple of places the ascent is so narrow, steep and congested it feels like the crowd on Hillary´s Step on Mount Everest in May.  But the lake at the top of the hike is beautiful.  Crystal clear with interesting fungus dripping from the waterfall.  Here is a photo I took in April, when there was still snow around.




Weekend, August 24 and 25.

Unfortunately the vacation is nearing an end, and clients actually expect me to be available for calls and meetings!  So, this week was mostly spent chained to the desk, but at the weekend I was able to get away, and since I had not ridden for a while I decided to do an old familiar trail and a new one.

The Holy Cross Mountains may have the best hiking; the Frying Pan the best fishing; and Aspen the best restaurants.  But Snowmass has the best mountain biking.  Lots of well kept trails, signposted, classified, etc.  Just like ski runs.  And now they have a new downhill only trail called Valhalla, with jumps and berms and banked turns.  But I did not know about this on Saturday when I rode The Rim trail, an old classic.  Nice steady climb, no rock gardens, and a beautiful looping descent along the rim of the hills on the west side of Snowmass down to the Rodeo.  Nor did I know on Sunday that you can now take your bike up on the Elk Creek Gondola.  So, like the foolish, old school guy that I am, I rode a little more than an hour up to Ullrhof before setting out on Government and Cross Mountain.  Frankly, I did not enjoy this first part of the ride.  Way too many rock gardens, especially on my ancient hardtail.   But getting to Anaerobic Nightmare for an adrenalin filled 6 mile downhill made it all worthwhile.  Do this trail, heading back more gently on Tom Blake to Snowmass village.


August 26 to September 7.

Gone again.  Cant wait to get back and enjoy the fall colours, the cooling weather and the changing fauna.


September 8 to 12.

Two weeks away and first thing back I had to go fishing.  I realized that I have hardly fished this year.  In years past, when I would come up for a week or two, a break from the office routine, I would fish three or four times a week.  What changed?  Is it that now that I am here for the summer and can fish whenever, I don’t take advantage.  Or is it because when I was office slaving I needed to go fishing to unwind.  Catch fish or not, a day on the river is always a good day.  Now that I live here in the summer, I am already unwound.  And I don’t feel the need to get out on the river to fish.  I live by the water and, as Yeats said, here is the place where “peace comes dropping slow.”

Returning from two weeks away I found some little changes.  First, there were three large piles of bear skat.  Two on the path up from my tent to the cabin, and one a little higher up.  This was the first bear visit this year, no doubt because I was out of town.  Second, a family of four wild turkeys had decided to roost in a tall fir near the river.  During the day they wander around and around the cabin, following a kind of repetitive circuitous route, picking at grubs and shrubs in their omnivorous way.  I felt them almost like new friends, and enjoyed it when they rested in the early afternoon in a patch of lush grass just outside my window.  But then a friend told me they would be eating the seeds of the wildflowers that I had so carefully protected and nourished all summer, anticipating another bumper crop next year.  What to do, an ethical dilemma.  M suggested a bow and arrow.  “The season just opened. We can go down the road, buy a tag today and shoot them tomorrow as they rest in front of your house.”  That seemed like treachery.  “What if I lassoed one?” I asked.  “Dude, get that on video and post it on You Tube.  It will go viral.”  Slim chance of success, I thought.  Then W came up with the perfect solution.  “Feed them wheat seeds for a couple of days until they get really accustomed to it.  Then douse the seeds in whisky.  Let them gobble it down, and in hours they will be lieing, out for the count, and you can pick them up and move them up into the National Forest.”  Sounds like a plan.  Probably against some law or other.

Another new friend was a beautiful male mule deer.  He arrived with a family of five, and as they wandered through the brush he sat in the shade of some trees and bushes quietly masticating some food or other.  I came across him as I was clearing a brushy area that I want to plant with grass and wildflowers for next year.  I was 10 yards from him.  I stood still.  We looked at each other.  Neither of us moved, and he kept on masticating.  Here is his foto.  My daughter says he is Frida Kahlo reincarnated because of his dark “eyebrow” line.


Saturday September13.

Isn´t this just the most beautiful Indian Summer weather you have ever seen.  So, after burning some dead wood early, while the air was still crisp and cool, and then clearing some more brush, I set out at about 11 to ride to Carbondale for lunch.  Always a beautiful ride.  But today I missed the ospreys that have spent the last three summers in a nest on a telephone pole about a mile out of Basalt.  Here is a picture of them.  Ospreys are so interesting.  Some fun facts:  They generally mate for life.  They migrate south every year, travelling to Mexico or South America (that is the Colorado ospreys).  But they do not migrate together.  One leaves, and then the other leaves some days later.  They migrate alone, not in groups, and do not migrate to the same winter location as their mate.  Then they return to the same summer location.  The babies do not migrate with them either, and once the summer is over they are unlikely to see their parents again.  The children typically do not return north after their first winter, staying south and growing for a year and a half before returning.  Anyway, I missed them, but their absence was compensated by a flock of Egyptian geese that I spotted by the lake on the north side of Frying Pan road by the pond near mile 5.

Sunday September 14.

Still beautiful weather.  Time to visit the Bells and see the leaves changing.  Or so I thought.  Up there by 7.30 to bet the traffic, and had the pleasure of watching the sun creep over the mountains to the east, gradually illuminating Maroon Peak and the hills around it.  But the colours were still in transition.  Yes, most of the aspens had gone to light green or yellow, even to that bright yellow which is stunning.  But no reds or oranges.  So I hiked on up to the pass, and here is a nice photo taken on the way up to the pass, looking back at Crater Lake, which, incidentally, was really low.  Surprising.  Heading back down about 1.00 pm I was glad I started early.  The traffic (people traffic) was terrible. 


Julian is back in Mexico for the Winter. He will resume blogging on his return next spring.