When I opened the door, the bracing cold surprised me. Just an hour ago, it felt like a balmy Indian Summer kind of day with warm sunshine baking the parking lot. But now, the briskness enveloped me. I felt ill prepared for my late afternoon run, which I had anticipated wearing a T-shirt and shorts. This weather felt more like mid-November than mid-September.
I donned a fleece jacket, thinking it was overkill, but in fact was just the right amount of layering for my jog along Barker Reservoir. Goose pimples dotted the tops of my thighs as I ran, the cold air searing my lungs as I took deep breaths in and out.
It was hard to tell what the temperature was as I passed a group of people sitting at a picnic table waiting for the burgers on the grill to be cooked. One had on a fleece hat and a fleece jacket. The other girl sat donning nothing but a sport bra and a pair of shorts. Although in fairness, she did look like she was shivering.
During most of my runs, the longer I run, the warmer I feel, but not tonight. As the sun sunk down towards the horizon, the temperatures seemed to drop even more. Just how cold was it anyway?
Grateful to finish at the covered bridge, I walked hurriedly towards my car, grateful to start the engine and crank up the heat. It was 42 degrees at 7:15 p.m. Yep, it’s going to freeze tonight.
By the time I went to bed, the temperature was just hovering above freezing at 33, and I woke up to a brisk 29 degrees. Glancing out the window, I could see frost on top of my car. Driving to work confirmed it, as more thick white frost coated the roofs of the houses.
Living at 8200 feet means for a very short growing season for plants and trees. 100 days give or take is pretty much the norm. That’s why the burst of wildflowers in July and August are that much more special to us mountain residents — we know they won’t last for long.
But they are some bonuses to an early fall freeze — the end of bugs, flies and mosquitos. And a kick start to the fall foliage season. The perfect recipe for the turn of Aspens to gold, orange and even red are warm sunny days follow by cold nights around freezing. So with luck, those vistas along the Peak to Peak Highway will soon be filled with gold.