Musings on the sublime serenity of autumn in Summit County
Agate news, a Red Wing’s vet and rec center closings
The agate is back
It’s football season, and football season means drama, with stats and standings. Starting this week, we’ll print a pro sports agate (aka a print-and-ink Sports Center scroll) every Friday through Monday to cover pro and college scores, transactions, starters, etc.
Hole sponsors for Burke and Riley’s golf tourney
The start list for the Burke and Riley’s golf tournament on Sept. 21 is full, but there’s still room for hole sponsors. All proceeds go to Summit Tiger athletics teams, including clubs. But wait, there’s more: former Red Wings goalkeeper Greg Buchanan is playing and, while he’s in town, has offered to sign memorabilia for hole sponsors. Call the pub at 970) 547-2782 for sponsor info.
Silverthorne rec center closed Sept. 14
Thanks to heavy lifting — not the weight-room kind, har har — the Silverthorne rec center will be closed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14. Contractors are lifting heavy equipment over the roof during the day, and due to safety concerns, the facility must close. Pass holders can head to the Breck rec for free admission all day.
Every once in a while, I forget there are giant swaths of this planet with absolutely no seasons, or at least not the seasons I’ve come to know as fact.
And I’m not even talking about barren, rugged regions like Siberia or Antarctica or the Gobi Desert. Those are on the extreme end of the climate spectrum, places where few people choose to live simply because the seasons are so grim.
No, take a close-to-home example: Florida. The southernmost state in the continental U.S. sits in a semi-tropical region — a climate I’ve only visited for a few weeks at a time — and rarely sees the sort of unpredictable, borderline schizophrenic weather patterns we get in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Temperatures in Miami and Pensacola hardly drop below 50 or 60 degrees, even in the thick of “winter,” and the trees hold their leaves throughout the year. Sure, the Atlantic Ocean berates the coast with rain and wind and the occasional hurricane, but in terms of seasonal changes, the difference from spring to summer to fall to winter is nil.
Some folks enjoy this. Others see it as a sort of pleasant, sunny, one-note hell. These are the transplants who come to the Colorado mountains in search of “Christmas trees,” as one of my friends so lovingly referred to all pine trees, especially when they’re covered in a blanket of impossibly white snow. Now, I was fascinated and slightly mortified when she also told me about the “hurricane parties” she threw with college friends for Hurricane Bill and Hurricane Irene: Everyone would gather in a single house to weather the storm with quarters and beer pong. That mentality is totally foreign to me — I’ve never been in a hurricane and have no real desire to be anywhere near one — but, for my Florida friend, so are the hundreds of thousands of Christmas trees I grew up exploring.
Autumn, then, is by far my favorite season. It always has been. As a Colorado native, I grew up with the slow cool-down of September and refreshing crispness of October, all leading to the cold, snowy start of ski season in November. For me, the seasonal march is so ingrained at this point that it’s nearly habitual, like brushing my teeth, or whistling idly when I think. The seasons just happen.
Since moving fulltime to the mountains — the mountains I’ve visited regularly since a toddler — I’ve become more aware of Mother Nature’s habits, just as I’m sure Florida and Texas transplants are nearly shell-shocked when they make the move to Colorado. Autumn in Summit is fleeting, but, for reasons I’m still trying to Thoreau my way through, that makes it somehow more sublime.
First comes mountain biking. I didn’t pick up riding in earnest until relocating from Fort Collins to Eagle County after college, and since then, it’s become one of my go-to sports. And, like many, autumn riding is what I live for. Not only are the trails blessedly empty — fall is also time when locals take their towns back before the long, bustling winter — it’s also when aspens and underbrush burst with color. Even in July, when I’m barreling down Aspen Alley in Breck or cruising through Miner’s Creek in Frisco, I daydream about reds and yellows in place of the lush green. Talk about spoiled rotten.
So, when I headed out with a photographer to catch Frisco’s pockets of foliage on Sept. 9, I was oddly disappointed when we wound up Miner’s Creek Road and only saw a handful of blazing aspens. For whatever reason, I wanted it to be fall so badly that when it wasn’t, I felt cheated. After a few minutes of grinding, I talked myself out of this mindset, and instead focused on the eerie apparition of lone yellow trees in the thick of a still-green forest.
Which brings me back to my friends from Florida and Texas and billions of strangers who have never seen the seasons I know as natural. There’s a reason people flock to Colorado and Summit County: It truly is unlike anything else in the world. You can say that about any locale — and I believe that’s true — but, for a certain subset of outdoor junkies, this is heaven, with a combination of natural splendor and sheer, unstoppable seasonality. It lives and breathes. It changes. It demands respect and attention from the small, fleshy inhabitants who wander the pines and aspens.
Fall sports season
Not only do trees and animals bend to Mother Nature’s habits in autumn — so do we. If you’re anything like me, you’ve already started pulling out your skis and snowboards for waxing, and you’ve watched at least a few backcountry video edits in anticipation of opening day. I just bought a new jacket and, as I have since I was about 19 years old, I’m searching for a new winter beanie. You can’t wear the same one season after season, right?
But, even with winter sports tantalizingly close, there’s still plenty of snow-free fun to be had. Prep sports are in full swing, with football, volleyball, girl’s rugby and boy’s soccer hosting regular-season games at Summit High School from now until early October. Here’s hoping for post-season play into late October (rugby is a perennial playoff threat, and both volleyball and football are looking better than they have in years).
Then, there’s trail running in fall. The cross-country team looks strong, and, unlike their Front Range counterparts, they get to train on the same foliage-heavy trails I can’t wait to explore when I’m not in the saddle. Upper and Lower Flume in Breck are pristine, as is Frisco Peninsula, the Summit County recpath through Frisco and just about anything along Keystone Gulch Road. The weather has been blessedly clear over the past week or two. I’m taking my first crack at Crossfit in a few days (watch for an article on Crossfit technique and culture in the next few weeks), but until then, I’ll be outside, waiting patiently for the leaves to change. Here’s to autumn.
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