My happy place.
There’s only one thing about October that I don’t like – It’s that it only lasts for a month. One of the highlights of my autumn has been the incredible display of fall colors along the South Fork of Little Peoples Creek not far from Hays, where I live and teach. I’ve become especially fond of a 2-mile stretch of jeep trail that starts at the Hays Pow Wow grounds and winds its way through acres of aspen to the southern border of the reservation. Over the past few weeks, walking or running there has been like traveling through a golden dreamscape. 

Beyond and above.
This past Saturday (10/3/20) I followed the road farther, continuing another mile beyond the reservation boundary to a saddle below the northeast slope of Indian Peak. From there I bush-whacked up to the summit – less than half a mile with 650 feet of elevation gain. The bush-whacking wasn’t bad, and there was no scree – but it was steep. I spent about an hour on the summit ridge enjoying the calm sunny day, feasting on the fall colors, and flying my drone, which took some dandy photos. The summit time was very pleasant but the two hours spent walking that jeep trail was the best part of the afternoon.

Walking the line.
The forecast for the next day (Sunday) called for more wind, plus haze from wildfires, so I wanted to get out and do something early – before the wind picked up. I drove past the pow wow grounds, parked alongside the road and did a short VERY steep hike up Mission Peak. I’ve done this unusual hike many times but hadn’t been up there since the display of fall colors started. My route followed the border of the reservation, which runs north-south in this part of the Little Rockies. The strange thing about the route is that it follows a linear clearing straight up the north side of the mountain – Several years ago trees where cleared along a 20-yard swath, marking the border. 

The place to be.
Unfortunately, I didn’t beat the wind and haze but it’s always good to see the pow wow area in the morning light. Also, it was nice to get some exercise before heading back to the apartment where I spent the rest of the day prepping for another week of online teaching while listening to the wind howl. The hike from the road up Mission Peak is only a mile (one-way) but gains 1,000 feet of elevation. It’s worth it though – IF your knees can handle it. The end of a ridge west of the summit provides one of the best views to be found anywhere in the Little Rockies.

Below: This map marks hikes that have been featured on so far, including several others along the Rocky Mountain Front – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.