CARBONDALE, CO - In most of the Colorado mountain towns where I have lived, there is one peak that dominates the skyline. In Norwood it is Lone Cone Mountain, in Colorado Springs it is Pike’s Peak, and in my new home of Basalt it is Mount Sopris. Driving into the Roaring Fork Valley one cannot miss the stunning view of this peak. It rises over 6,000 feet in less than three miles to its twin summits, both at exactly the same height of 12,965 feet. For me it is a rite of passage to summit the peak that towers above the town in which I live. Not only does this help me to understand where my town lies in relation to the surrounding peaks and valleys, it also affords a familiarity with the mountain that makes gazing up at the peak even more enjoyable and meaningful. Last weekend, I conquered Mount Sopris.
I chose a date and invited some friends, sure that we would have to set several dates before the weather cooperated and we were able to summit. That morning, we woke up to a cloudless blue sky and the weatherman predicting that it would remain that way throughout the day. We drove to the trailhead munching peanut butter and apples, and energetically began the hike. Not long after we began, we passed a gnome, sitting quietly next to his pet chipmunk slightly off the trail. After about two hours of hiking under a canopy of yellow aspen leaves, we reached Thomas Lakes. They were so still that we could see the twin summits of Mount Sopris reflecting in the water. A small pond between the two lakes was covered with a thin sheet of ice, reminding us that winter was on the way. Our midmorning snack refilled our tanks and allowed us to continue onward and upward, constantly marveling at the beauty of our fall-colored valley.