October 06, 2007

A Walk to Music Pass

Head of Sand Creek drainage, Sangre de Cristo range, Oct. 5, 2007. Photo by Chas S. cliftonView west from the top of Music Pass into the Sand Creek drainage.

Friday promised a crisp fall day with optimum aspen-viewing conditions.

But when we crested the hill on Colorado 96 and looked down into the Wet Mountain Valley, it was filled with rain, and the Sangre de Cristo range was invisible.

Wipers slapping, we drove through Silver Cliff and Westcliffe and stopped at Candy's for coffee, muffins, and The Denver Post.

After 45 minutes, the squall had blown through, and we headed for the lower Music Pass trailhead, figuring that if the weather turned bad again, we would just take a walk on the Rainbow Trail.

We met two backpackers from Colorado Springs coming out of the Sand Creek Lakes drainage on the far side of Music Pass. They carried fishing rods, but they babbled not of fishing but off the horrible night they had passed in wind, rain, sleet, and snow. And then they turned and hustled down the trial.

We ended up going all the way to the top of the pass (11,3080 feet), where the wind poured across from the San Luis Valley like an invisible waterfall.

"Tree" "Elk" "Tree" "Elk"

In the fir forest below the crest, I heard an elk bugle.

No, M. said, it's a fallen fir tree rubbing against another.

Just then I heard the gulping sounds that follow a bugle.

No, M. said, it's two trees rubbing. And she was right.

But on the way down, we did hear an elk bugling at a lower elevation, maybe 9,500 feet, about at the point where I was deciding that I really did not need to be wearing gloves anymore.

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