From Colorado to Arizona in 25 Minutes

Hall Ranch trail
Hall Ranch
Wet Beaver trail, near Valley Verde, Arizona
This photo was taken near Valley Verde, Arizona. Looks like Hall Ranch, doesn't it?

I didn’t actually travel from Colorado to Arizona in 25 minutes, but if you look at photos from a week ago, you can see how I might feel this way. In one week, the Front Range weather went blowing snow, accumulations of up to a foot of heavy white stuff and temperatures in the 20s, to a balmy, summer-like 80 degrees and dry, sunny conditions. Alas, this isn’t some crazy example of climate change—at least not around these parts. This is typical for springtime in Denver.

To really get the contrast going in my brain, I selected a hike where I suspected I wouldn’t encounter any lingering piles of snow or too much mud—Hall Ranch in Lyons, Colorado. This is about a 25 minute drive north of Boulder (and 45 minutes from my house in Westminster). Hiking in Hall Ranch today felt like I was beamed up to some random trail in Arizona. It was downright HOT, cacti grow everywhere, and all that was needed to complete the illusion was the lonely screech of a circling hawk or vulture (ha!).

This is the first hike I’ve been on this year where I saw signs of spring: green grass, tiny alpine flowers blooming, frogs croaking in a pond, the re-emergence of sage. It was exciting. I pinched off a bit of sage growing near a rock on the trail and sniffed deeply, smelling summer and campfires and vacations and carefree feelings.

Skye and I rounded a corner at one point and heard a low cacophony which was unmistakably the mating calls of toads and frogs. We knew there had to be a pond or lake nearby, and sure enough, we spotted a small brown pond below the trail. The sound was strangely loud and comical in the context of that hot, dusty and (otherwise) silent trail.

Croak-a, crowwwwk, creek creek creek…

We descended down to the pond, where we enjoyed the amphibian orchestra for a few minutes before one of them got wind of us, then they ALL shut up very abruptly.

We tried to spot the frogs along the bank, but couldn’t. We did, however, see a yellow and black salamander surfacing a couple of times.

I enjoyed my trip to summer and to the “desert” today.  Beam me up, Scotty, I’m ready for June!!

alpine flower springpond at Hall Ranch