Postcard: Slate Creek on fire

Like most people with working eyes, I’m a sucker for fall foliage. I also have questions: Why do one aspen tree’s leaves turn yellow and another orange? What determines when each grove shifts from summer to fall? If you know the answers, feel free to chime in below. This (unedited) shot depicts a glowing grove in prime autumn backpacking territory: the Slate Creek drainage on the northern end of Colorado’s Gore Range.

Photo by Devon O'Neil
Photo by Devon O’Neil

One thought on “Postcard: Slate Creek on fire”

  1. Cold nights shut down growth, chlorophyll is not made and leaf attachment bonds begin to break down. Sunny warm days then bleach the green leaving the leaf with remaining sugars that make the varying shades gold-amber-rose.

    Looking at terrain, you can see where the cold air sinks from the peaks, gullies funnell the cold air down, and you can see the first colors appear in these points.

    Some trees are reliably red while some others vary from year to year, I imagine the pigments vary due to different states of nutrients the aspen roots can absorb that year.

    The glowing color is almost electric, I have not researched why these leaves are so brilliant but a Vermont colors tour is on my bucket list.

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