On Saturday (Sept. 26, 2009) my husband and I decided to go for a drive and check out the autumn colors. He insisted this would be the prime weekend for color. Well, we did see a lot of lovely autumnal color but there were still many aspen that hadn’t even started to change color – I think it will be another two weeks before it really hits the peak time for the most vivid color show.
We had been going to drive over Wolf Creek Pass to Pagosa Springs but got started too late so had to do a shorter drive. We drove from our home in La Jara to Chama, NM over Cumbres/La Managa Pass – the color on the Antonito (east) side of the pass was really pretty, very vivid. The trees on the Chama (west) side of Cumbres/La Manga Pass had barely started to change color. Sometimes, the fall color on that side of the pass is really striking – it probably will be gorgeous there in two weeks.
After stopping in Chama for a bit, we continued on to Tierra Amarilla and then turned there to go over the Los Brazos Mountains to Tres Piedras. For some reason, a lot of the aspen trees in those mountains are dying – there are large areas of trees that are just standing sticks with no leaves at all. We read an article in the Taos paper about it the next day – it’s called SAD, Sudden Aspen Death, and no one is sure what causes it. I hope someone finds out soon so it doesn’t spread.
Even the trees that weren’t dead didn’t have much color, their leaves were smaller and less abundant and were just kind of curling up and turning brown instead of becoming a nice bright, golden yellow color. The scrub oak along that road was changing to a bright red which was pretty.
By the time we arrived in Tres Piedras is was dusk but there was still some lovely color to see as we drove on to Taos for dinner and a bit of grocery shopping! As the sun was setting, the whole sky was the most striking, vibrant shade of orange – everything was bathed in this wonderful orange glow. I tried to capture it with a picture but somehow the camera just wouldn’t pick up the orange glow that was everywhere. There had been a lot of haze (probably from a distant forest fire) in the air all day which most likely caused the orange glow as the sun set.
You can click on any of the pictures in this post for a larger version. Most of them were taken through the windshield of the car as it was driving down the road, I could have gotten better ones if we had stopped and I’d used my big camera but, sometimes, it’s just fun to take pictures on the fly.
Even though the colors weren’t really at their peak, it was a beautiful and relaxing drive. I got a lot of knitting done, too – worked on the felted cat bed while we were driving. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of this world, I’m so grateful that we do.