This past weekend, my wife and I spent a classic Colorado weekend in one of my favorite valleys in all of the American West - The Upper Arkansas River Valley.
On Saturday night, we attended the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust’s (“CCALT”) annual Sunset BBQ. This year the event was held on the historic Hutchinson Ranch, just outside of Salida, CO. The Hutchinson Ranch has been owned by the same family since the 1860s (seven generations!) and was recently preserved by a CCALT conservation easement, ensuring that it will remain a rural working landscape in perpetuity. Great people, excellent food, in a wonderful western setting. For more info, head to the Mirr Ranch Group blog: Ranch Brokers Attend Conservation Events
After the BBQ, we drove up the valley past Buena Vista, took a right up into the Sawatch Range via the Clear Creek drainage, and camped out for the night on the banks of Clear Creek. The next morning, we began hiking up Missouri Gulch with the goal of summiting the 14,197-foot Mt. Belford. Fall was definitely in the air as we ascended toward timberline, with some of the aspens already beginning to change. There was some fresh snow above 13,000 feet, and it was chilly enough up top that we had to wear gloves, warm hats, and light jackets on the summit. Despite the cooling temperatures, the valley floor was still green and lush with grass and wildflowers.