Solid run from Chautauqua up the backside of Green Mountain and down Bear Canyon.
Distance: 9 miles
Weather: Gray and cold
Sometimes the incongruence of a name and a place becomes suddenly conspicuous. For example, if something terrible happens to a family that lives in a place called Happy Valley...or if no one in Germantown speaks German...or if there are no hills or dales anywhere near Hillsdale.
I was thinking about this as I was headed up Green Mountain as a light snow was falling and the fog-like fingers of a low cloud ceiling were reaching down into the furrows that unfold along the mountain's flanks. The snow, trees shrouded in white, the clouds and the poor overall visibility created a monochrome feel around Green Mountain today, a peak whose names suggests a verdant, living place.
Still, even a seemingly colorless landscape has beauty and Green didn't disappoint today...it just presented itself in a new way. Stark. Simple. Quiet.
I started late afternoon at the Chautauqua parking lot and made my way over to Gregory Canyon, slipped on the traction devices and started my trek up toward the ranger cottage. I saw one other hiker on the ascent, just a bit past the trailhead.
I ran up to the cottage at a steady, but unimpressive pace, stopping ten or so times to readjust the Microspikes. I need to get a smaller sized pair for my size 11.5 feet. The Crosslites I was wearing are too narrow for the large size spikes I have.
I was today in the mood for the mountains, so the stops didn't bother me. Everything would be taken in stride. No hurry. The temps were nice. The snow was beautiful. All good.
I hit the summit in around 46 minutes, tagged the summit marker and headed back down to the four-way and dropped down toward Bear Canyon. Along the southwestern side of Green, the cloud ceiling really seemed to close in, heightening the feeling of absence of color.
I don't remember much of the descent. I was lost in thought and on blissful autopilot feeling like I was miles away from the bustle of work and of Boulder.
I saw my first hikers since early in Gregory Canyon shortly after joining the Mesa Trail. The appearance of others whipped me out of my revelry. I put my head down and focused on keeping a steady pace back to Chautauqua.
By the time I was back in the truck and headed home on Highway 93, the falling snow and dropping temps had made for some relatively treacherous driving conditions. Traffic slowed, and so did my commute. The upside...I had more time to reflect on the monochrome silence that enveloped Green Mountain this winter day.