Ear to the ground

“It scared the crap out of me, even though it was wearing a tiara.”

-Local mountain biker reacting to the stuffed mountain lion that has been living on Stacy’s Loop for the last few weeks

Peaking in the San Juans

Leaf gawkers beware. It’s shaping up to be a quickie in the San Juan Mountains this year. Autumn has officially arrived in Southwest Colorado, and the Forest Service is expecting peak foliage as early as next week.

Hints of the coming change are appearing all over the San Juans. Gambel oak along La Plata Canyon is very vibrant and about 5 percent of aspen have headed for yellow. Mancos reports its small brush is changing to yellows, and some cottonwoods are changing in the Dolores area. In Silverton, about 30 percent of the aspen at Red Mountain Pass and 20 percent at Molas Pass have changed. Throughout the San Juans, aspens anywhere above 9,300 feet in elevation are beginning to transition. Lake City, Creede and Pagosa Springs are all reporting comparable levels of change. For those who lean toward the Land of Enchantment, Chama reports aspen and cottonwoods are just starting to change along the Coñejos River and at Cumbres Pass.

The Forest Service’s coveted “Recommended Viewing Areas” include Red Mountain and Molas passes north of Durango, Slumgullion Pass near Lake City and Creede, and Cumbres Pass east of Chama, N.M.

Most areas are estimated peak foliage anywhere between Sept. 16 and the first week of October. This summer’s excessive rain may be responsible for trees peaking earlier than normal, but an early winter is not out of the question.

Downhill to Moab

This could be what you’ve been training for. The 3rd annual Mountains to the Desert Bike Ride is scheduled to take place on Sept. 23. Road riders will cover 132 miles between Telluride and Moab on the fully supported ride.

Riders will start in Telluride at 7 a.m., ride down valley, up the excruciating Norwood Hill, down through the desert of Paradox Canyon, up to the base of the La Sal Mountains and eventually into downtown Moab.

All proceeds benefit the Just for Kids Foundation, and for each $100 a rider fund-raises, he or she receives one raffle ticket for a Moots handcrafted titanium bike. Visit www.m2dbikeride.tripod.com for details.


In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows