The temperature was 41 degrees as J's truck maneuvered along the bumpy road to the trailhead. The mountain we were headed for was several thousand feet higher, so it was bound to be in the 30s up there. But it was a dry fall day, and our days of hiking were numbered. It could snow tomorrow. We were committed.
My guidebook recommended this trail as a fall hike, and it soon became clear why. After stepping over a large pile of bear scat, we ascended into an enchanted forest.
It's easy to overlook larch trees on a hillside until autumn. Their needles are green like all the other conifers. But in the fall they turn a glorious shade of yellow before their needles drop for the winter. This makes the hillsides around here golden.
We passed above a chain of sparkling lakes. Someday I want to camp here.
The wind bit through our layers. We only spent a few moments at the high point above 8000 feet. A lookout once stood here; now only metal bedframes remain. It must have been an amazing place to work, watching gold spread across the hills.
It was cold, and we left the golden forest to its march towards winter. I couldn't help looking back though, imagining life in a little cabin among the blazing trees. I'll be back.