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End of a Colorado Mountain Summer

August is waiting for the leaves of Autumn

Summer is short in the high country of Colorado. Green comes slowly in June, and the browns of August signal the coming of Autumn. The mountains, even the tallest ones, reaching 14,000', are bare except for a few remnant patches of snow from the previous heavy Winter. August is a time of waiting - waiting for the first yellow leaves on the shrubs covering the ground, and an occasional yellow leaf on an Aspen tree. The mosquitos are gone, as the night time temperatures plunge. The small creeks are dried up, and hikers can cross them without soaking their boots. The tiny Wild Rasberries come up, hidden among the leaves of other brush. Every year, I pick some to eat and leave some for the bears. Hunting season is a month away, and the hidden places I frequent will be visited by orange jackets, and I too will wear an orange cap to signal my presence. But until then, I will wander across meadows of brown in areas I have not seen or photographed before, to scout for next Summer's scenic locations. August is the quieter part of Summer, kids go back to school, and the crowds start thinning. It is a time when I remember all the flowers and mountains I photographed to add to my gallery. Every Summer in Colorado is different - some are dry, some are wet, some are dry too wet. It is the Winter, when most of the precipitation falls, that creates life in the Colorado Summer. Above treeline, the Tundra is drying out, and the grass turns gold. The bare peaks wait for the first weak cold fronts to dust the tallest summits. The first snows very often come in late August, and the Aspen trees show the first small patches of Yellow leaves. The wildflowers are all gone, no more colorful Columbine and Indian Paintbrush, only the White Aster, the Purple Fireweed, and the Yellow Black Eyed Susan. I look back wistfully on Colorado's glorious season of floral color. But in a few weeks, I will be awed by the Golden leaves of Autumn in the high country.