Aspen gold

This post opens the 40th edition of the blog carnival Festival of the Trees, with a focus on the benefits of trees. Take a look at some of the lovely posts and photos from trees and tree lovers around the world.

The clear skies of the late-September day mean it is time to head uphill to aspen country. We play hooky from work all day to bathe in gold. Our first stop is next to a wall of rock. Aspens or rock? I can’t decide!


We are heading south on the Peak to Peak Highway, which means we catch the aspens partially backlit by the low autumn sun—dazzling!


A quick stop at Brainard Lake for a view of the glacier that provides our drinking water:

Brainard Lake

Aspen up close

We climb out of the car to say hello to an aspen grove up close. The leaves twinkle in the sunlight.Aspen tree

As in cottonwoods, the leaf stem of the aspens is flat rather than round, so each leaf flutters back and forth. A photo cannot capture the sensation of being surrounded by a thousand twinkling prisms of golden light.

Neither does it record the exquisite sound of a chorus of aspen leaves rustling in the breeze.

And then there is the special aroma of aspens. Sniffing an aspen grove sometimes makes me imagine that I’ve discovered an ancient wooden chest that sat empty for centuries, and I suddenly lift the lid. My sweetie describes the aroma as buttery, with an almond extract. Take your pick—the smell of aspens is unique, and rich.

Near Nederland we park and head up the Peakview Trail for a little exercise. Suddenly we are among pines.

Trail through pines

A patch of moss in sunlight provides a brilliant green counterpoint to the day’s gold, while a maple with red stems, not to be outdone by aspens, shows off its own version of gold.


maple leaves

But it’s the memory of aspens that dances in my head as I fall asleep at night:

Aspen leaves


2 Responses to Aspen gold

  1. Lené Gary says:September 29, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    So nice to see “the gold rush.” I lived along the Front Range for over 10 years (Evergreen, Denver, Co. Spgs, Palmer Lake, Vail, Breck, Monument), and I miss those aspens. We have them in Vermont, but they don’t get the attention they do out west. That’s not to say our fall lacks color though. 😉 Thanks for posting so many photos.

  2. Mimi Meredith says:September 30, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Priscilla–Aspens and Cottonwoods are my favorites. In fact, one of my “happy box” items is the sound of their leaves in the breeze. Sometimes I think it laughter. Sometimes I think applause. It is all the affirmation I need.

    Thank you for these beautiful thoughts and images!