PEEC Amateur Naturalist: Cañada Bonita – Autumn Comes To The High Country

Aspen leaves are close at hand and glow in the sun along the trail less traveled. Photo by Bob Dryja

PEEC Amateur Naturalist
By Robert Dryja
 
Cañada Bonita Autumn Comes to the High Country
 
The Cañada Bonita trail diverges into two trails in a wood, much as is expressed by Robert Frost in his poem.
 
One trail is much more traveled and wider. The other trail is more of a narrow grassy path. Autumn is arriving in the high country. The less traveled trail can bring a person closer to this autumnal world while the other leads to grandeur.
 
Both trails merge for a while when approaching the rim of the Valles Caldera. The less traveled trail diverges again to go directly to the rim of the Valles Caldera while the other goes toward a mountain top.
 
Summer still is present at the start of the Cañada Bonita trail. A line of purple asters are in full bloom with butterflies flying among them. However another flowering plant just a short distance up the trail shows that autumn is approaching. Its seeds now are mature and float away like small white parachutes. Its leaves are changing to red and brown.
 
A high rock wall comes into view as you continue along the Cañada Bonita trail. It provides a sense of the grandeur of nature. Some of the aspen trees growing at its base have yellow leaves, giving only a hint of autumn. The aspen trees along the trail less traveled in contrast have a golden shine to them.
 
The two trails come together when they approach the upper end of an alpine meadow. There is a sense of openness while looking across to the tree line on the other side.
 
The trail less traveled diverges from Cañada Bonita where it turns northward. The trail less traveled continues westward across the grassy meadow. Its destination is the rim of the Valles Caldera. The valley of the Cerros de los Posos appears far below and miles away. The trail less traveled has led to a view of grandeur much like what occurs along the Cañada Bonita trail.
 
The Cañada Bonita trail continues northward up into the tree line. It eventually connects with the Guaje Ridge trail after passing over the mountaintop. It now becomes a trail less traveled as well. It gives a sense of closeness and intimacy with nature as it passes through the close-by mountaintop woods.
 
One would anticipate that autumn will be even more distinct at this higher elevation. But a surprise occurs. The aspen trees growing at the top of the mountain are still completely green.
 
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black.
 
The wide road of the Cañada Bonita trail. Photo by Bob Dryja
 
The narrow less traveled road parallels the Cañada Bonita trail. Photo by Bob Dryja
 
A butterfly among the asters. Summer still is here. Photo by Bob Dryja
 
Autumn is arriving for other flowers. Seeds float away with a breeze. Photo by Bob Dryja
 
A high cliff dominates along the wide Cañada Bonita trail. Photo by Bob Dryja
 
The alpine meadow toward the top of the Cañada Bonita trail. Photo by Bob Dryja
 
The valley in the Cerros de los Posos at the end of the trail less traveled. Photo by Bob Dryja
 
Where is autumn at the top of the mountain? The Aspen trees are close by and still completely green. Photo by Bob Dryja
 
Shaded glens appear as the Cañada Bonita trail passes over the mountain top. Photo by Bob Dryja
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