The Edge of Winter at Vallecitos

I spent the weekend up at the Vallecitos Mountain Ranch, leading hikes into the surrounding forests. Although it dropped down to 9 degrees on Saturday morning, the daytime temps were mild, in the high fifties. A few of us jumped into the swimming pond, breaking the previous record for the latest swim of the year at Vallecitos. I had never seen the place at this time of year, on the edge of winter. I’ve been there winter, spring, summer and fall, but never at this time of transition, before the snow but after the aspen leaves have fallen. Before arriving, I was thinking I would be disappointed by missing the fall color, but there was something else to captivate us: the stillness, the quiet, the full moon, the clear water of the river, and, as always, the big, big ponderosa pines. It’s always that way there—there’s something marvelous about every season. (I took only a few photos.) And the people who came (twenty-six in all) were a delight to meet and spend time with, sharing hikes, meals and fireside time. Unless it snows and we can do a skiing trip into Vallecitos, this will be the last visit there for me until next spring. 

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