I am lucky to live in a Valley surrounded by vast wildernesses. The main road leading out here abruptly ends at the base of a mountain. One can accurately describe this place as being “in the middle of nowhere.” The area is even largely forgotten by outdoor enthusiasts so trails are growing over and roads are washing out and no one is repairing them. As a local, I lament the loss of access to these remote places, but as a lover of the wilderness, I secretly rejoice that there are vast stretches of land fully returning to the wild and are being left unvisited.
However, there is a road less than a mile from my house that winds up into high alpine areas. Waterfalls abound, mountain vegetation covers the rocky slopes, furry pikas live in the scree and bears feast on fields of blueberries. This time of year the plants are vibrant and multi colored. The greens have disappeared and been replaced with hues reminiscent of a childs box of crayons. Yesterday we headed up the hills and admired the height of this seasons colors.
The little, dirt mountain road was lined with thimbleberry plants turning shades of red, yellow and orange.
Golden bigleaf maples lit up hillsides across the valley.
Fireweed, dead but standing, colored the path looking more like a physical representation of its name than in its summer glory.
Low bush blue berries carpeted the trail in a variety of fall inspired colors. The vibrancy of the leaves illuminated the entire mountainside.
Bushes bereft of leaves clung yet to the last of their berries. The branches looked as though they were hung with fairy-made chinese lanterns.
Green but fallen alder leaves covered every inch of the trail we walked. The day ended at a full flowing waterfall. The wind picked up and small snowflakes began to fall which quickly turned to rain. My small family stood surrounded by a Technicolor valley and listened to the sound of water pouring over cliffs. I watched my infant girl feel snow land on her face for the first time. Next month the plants will be dead or in hibernation, this final show was nothing short of amazing, ending with a bang, not a whimper.