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Beautiful Fall in Colorado

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10/16/11, La Garita, Co - It was a beautiful start to a few days off in Colorado.  As in many parts of the country, the fall foliage is beautiful and the air crisp and clear. After breakfast at the trading post, Sandy and I took a drive up into the mountains, where we enjoyed the scenery and had a picnic.

Amazingly enough, the sky in the background of this cottonwood tree really is the deep blue shown in the picture.

This is the view from the deck of the cabin, here on the Balloon Ranch, at 8,000 ft. elevation.

Tree

The lads are enjoying their downtime in the paddock behind the trading post. My good friends Bonnie and Jerry have been kind enough to keep a close eye on them while Iím working in Nebraska. Iíll have some pictures of them later.

Aspen

At 9,000, the aspen still have most of their leaves and offer a bright splash of yellow against the spruce.

By Ponds

At 10,000 feet, the aspen have lost all their leaves.  There are no fly hatches, so the trout werenít coming to the surface in the beaver ponds below. But, a shrimp cocktail and cold beer lunch in such surroundings, really ainít too bad!

On our way back down to the ranch, we decided to stop and pick some pinion nuts. The cones on the trees are now fully open, but the ones on the south side have gone by, while the nuts on the north side of the trees are still good.  I included a few pictures of our nut gathering.

Pinon Tree

In the Southwestern U.S., the pinion, along with itís companion tree the juniper, exist in a pretty wide belt of elevation below the tall pines.  Pinion nuts once provided one of the staple foods for Native Americans living in the area.

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In the fall, the pine cones burst open, revealing the nuts inside. The nuts have a very thin shell with a white, sweet kernel inside.

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A quicker way of gathering the nuts would be to spread a cloth under the trees and shake the branches.  Sandy is using the backup plan of gathering them by hand.  Afterwards, baby wipes come in handy, as the trees are fully of sticky pitch.

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Cow Traffic Jams are not uncommon in an open range state.  These folks just made a gather and their horses were tired, so we gave them a ride to get their truck and trailer. On a blog that I wrote this spring, I showed this same herd heading towards the mountains for summer grazing.  Now that itís fall, theyíre due for another walk back across the valley to their winter home.

Iíve got some chores to do for the next couple of days, but Iíll try and sneak in a little time for recreation.