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Chasing Fall Colors

26 Sep , 2014,
Heidi Kumm
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Guess what?! Fall is here! The mornings are cold, the afternoons are toasty and the trees are getting yellow. Oh, the beauty of fall. Of course, the spiders are moving INTO my room and the tree out front is dropping it’s annoying pods all over the yard…but I’m going to go ahead and focus on the good parts of fall. Like how it’s time for the boots + leggings + scarf outfits to become a staple in my life!

Fall is the one time I really miss Wisconsin. In Wisconsin the fall colors are stunning – from red, to yellow, to orange, to purple, to… The rolling hills are covered in colorful trees. I’d walk through frost tipped grass in the morning and be stripped down to a tank top come afternoon. The bugs were finally gone and even the midday heat was bearable without humidity. And as a farm girl most of my fall memories revolve around moving calves/cows to their winter homes, winterizing the water troughs and claiming the “good” blaze orange layers before hunting season comes around. It was busy on the farm, but the good kind of busy, the excited kind of busy.

The trails along Horsetooth Reservoir…taken on my last long run before Run Rabbit Run, the perfect confidence booster after a month off!

Here in Colorado it’s a little different. The only color we get is the aspen yellow with a touch of red bushes here and there. But the mountains aren’t alive with color like the hills are in Wisconsin. Instead they are speckled with groves of aspens that make the otherwise green mountains look rather infected with a yellow plague. Don’t get me wrong, the aspens are gorgeous, but this Wisconsin girl misses her maples and oaks!

Of course, I probably shouldn’t complain since “fall” goes from September-February here in Colorado…by Wisconsin standards. And fall really is the perfect time to get outside to explore. Most of the tourists have headed home because of their children’s school schedules and even the locals have gotten to busy catching up on “real life” during the shoulder season so the trails are often nearly empty.

oooh, look…a little bit of red!

This is exactly what we experienced last weekend at Rainbow Lakes near Nederland. I met up with a friend who used to race with me on the Boulder Running Company Race Team for a little excursion into the mountains. I was on full blown recovery mode so our hike was short and it ended with an ice cream stop at Sweet Cow [even though I did have Glacier cookies + cream ice cream for breakfast, don’t judge…it was in the name of recovery!].

On the drive up to Rainbow Lakes the aspens lining the road were stunning! Somehow I have lived in Colorado for three falls and this is the first time I’ve actually experienced the vibrancy of the aspens at their peak! It was truly amazing and the photos do not begin to do the colors justice! The pictures don’t capture the leaves floating on the breeze or the crisp bite in the air and they only get a hint of the true color. I hope I can remember just how incredible it was to experience first hand so I make the time to head into the mountains around this time next fall!

After a rather long drive along these beautiful mountain roads we finally made it to the Rainbow Lakes campground where we piled out of the car [3 people, 2 dogs] and started the hike toward the Rainbow Lakes. We were hoping for lakes ringed with aspens but that is not what we got. Instead we spent about a mile hiking along a trail lined with evergreens to a few lakes that were surrounded by…evergreens. It wasn’t the bright yellows we were hoping for but it was still beautiful…and oh, so peaceful!

I’ve written a few posts for work related to fall running…and let’s just say my brain is fully recovered from Run Rabbit Run 100 and, unlike after past marathons, I have absolutely no desire to give up on running for life. Instead I’m doing my best to embrace the extra time I have without any running on my agenda – I get to sleep in, I spend less time showering and doing laundry, my evenings are free and my car has fewer pairs of shoes stinking it up. It’s been nice, it really has. That said, today was perfect for fall running – the morning was just cold enough to warrant a light jacket and this afternoon would beautiful shorts/tank weather with a stunning sunset.

But I spent enough time hurting this summer…I truly am loving this recovery time and I refuse to cut it short! It’s been two weeks since I toed the start line of my first 100 miler and if I don’t go too far I am walking 100% pain-free! I’m not talking just pain free muscles, those puppies were ready to run just a few days after the race…I’m talking 100% pain-free everywhere, even in the cranky tendons! My body is fixing itself [with a little help from a precautionary PT visit + Kineseo tape] and I could not be more excited! Just one more week off my feet and I’ll be out playing on the trails again…bring on the ice cream!


  1. Logan September 26, 2014 at 7:50 am Reply

    While I would lay down my life in support of Colorado on nearly any issue, the east DOES have some spectacular fall colors. But really…you should head up towards Aspen during the fall..because it turns out it’s named that for a reason and it’s a spectacular sight. In fact, it’s on my wish list now to someday do the 4-pass loop in fall. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?

    Glad recovery is going well!!! All these positive stories about ice cream and “walking without pain” and not too much misery during RRR are giving me a skewed view of what I’m in for next August… keep it up!

    • Heidi Nicole September 26, 2014 at 8:41 am Reply

      You and Anna are both telling me I need to head for the Western Slopes — I can’t get over there until next week and with the fleeting fall colors that’ll probably be too late. So, next year!

      I’m actually doing really well recovery wise. Which is good and bad. Good because, well, a quick, happy recovery is always good. Bad because now I’m afraid of future races/recoveries that don’t go as well. :/

  2. Lora September 26, 2014 at 3:44 pm Reply

    I definitely miss fall on the East Coast. However, those yellow aspens did look stunningly breath-taking on the drive up to Breckenridge last weekend! When the sun shines down on them, the colors just pop.

    • Heidi Nicole September 26, 2014 at 4:25 pm Reply

      Yes! A sunny day in the aspen groves is stunning! Both of my outtings so far this year have been rather overcast — should head out in this weekend’s sun! Enjoy Breck, IG tells me it’s gorgeous!

  3. Steena October 4, 2014 at 6:07 am Reply

    I can’t imagine the recovery you’re going through from that! I think Ironman recovery is something awful, my legs are still easily fatigued, and it’s been a month. Love the pictures, as always!

    • Heidi Nicole October 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm Reply

      I’m doing surprisingly well energy wise [probably a random perk from going slow the entire race] but my tendons are still SO MAD at me. Not when I walk around normally but as soon as I put on running shoes that rub, boom, cranky tendons. So frustrating!

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