Saturday, April 28, 2012

April Aspen Leaves

I asked around this week about the Rainbow between Bear Creek and Methodist Mountain.

This bit of Rainbow Trail is south of Salida--the slope of Methodist is a big part of our town's setting. It is our southern horizon.The trail was introduced to me the first time I came to Salida specifically to be in Salida. I came for the Banana Belt Mountain Bike Race in 1997 or '98, can't remember exactly. That classic race course took us up the Bear Creek Road and then traversed Methodist Mountain on the Rainbow.

Well, anyway, this bit of the Rainbow is right up there near town, and it's the first high singletrack in the area to melt out and open in the Spring. What I heard was that it was dry, but that the big winds we've had this year had dropped lots of trees. I also heard that the moto community had been up clearing trees. But I knew I was taking a chance. Maybe it was a tangle of blowdowns, maybe it was open and good to go.

early leaves at 9,000 feet

I found a trail that was dry. Lots and lots of down trees, but through which the chainsaws had made a path. Most surprising for April 28, aspen almost fully leafed out. Leaves, at 9,000 feet in the Rockies, April 28. New aspen leaves are supposed to appear in late May. Maybe the 20th. But May, not April.

leaves unfurl

Here's a close-up of a young aspen, with leaf buds that are popping open. The fully mature leaves will be out by mid-week.

It's dry people. The snow is almost gone. The Arkansas has already gotten a little bit discolored. That should be 3 weeks away.

Reminds me of one of the first years I lived here. In 2002-03 we had a drought. Nothing turned green that summer. Irrigation water was scarce at first, then it dried up completely. The Hayman Fire burned up Tarryall and the Lost Creek Wilderness. In New Mexico, the Carson and Santa Fe national forests were closed.

Maybe that's what we have in store for 2012. Dry, wildfires, restrictions and closures.

Rainbow at Bear

But for now, I'm going to enjoy my mountains. Today was nice. Of course it's a treat to enjoy late May riding in late April.


Matt said...

Lets just hope the land managers aren't asleep at the wheel and exacerbate the fire season. It was a "controlled burn" that burned down Los Alamos and the recent on near Denver. They could do a lot just by closing down campgrounds, enacting a "no fire" ban...but not full on trail closures.

Oh boy those fire restrictions in NM were horrible...they would shut down mid May and reopen late July. All you could do was ride the road bike...

Tom Purvis said...

I bet it was a bummer living in NM during that year with the national forests closed. I remember really clearly being very apprehensive about it happening in CO. I couldn't imagine spending a summer in a little mountain town in CO and not being allowed to legally visit the national forest. But I also didn't want some d-bag at-large camper to let a campfire get out of control and start a burn.

It was a really weird year. Right after 911 too. The world seemed very unstable back then, environmentally, geo-politically, socio-economically...