I have been fascinated by the weather my entire life. When it comes to our atmosphere, there is always something interesting going on. The weather seems to find a way to continue to surprise people, behaving in different interesting ways each season, each year, each decade. Our lives are impacted by the weather every day. It is something that is impossible to ignore. It is always on our minds, particularly for those that of us that love travel and outdoor activities.
At times, our plans can be frustrated, or even cancelled by changes in weather conditions. It is the early season baseball game that was cancelled due to a freak April snowstorm. Or the ski resorts in Lake Tahoe that had to close due to the lack of snow.
At other times, unexpected opportunities can arise. I remember one year, when I was in college in Northwest Indiana, a place that is typically quite chilly in the wintertime, we had a series of unexpected 60 degree days in late January. I unexpectedly found myself in Lake Michigan (albeit only knee-deep) on the 27th of January, a time of year I could normally expect to be huddled indoors.
Across much of the country, the story this September was the persistence of summer. Some places are experiencing one of to their warmest Septembers on record. Here in Denver, it has been the same story. September’s temperatures this year, largely resembled what is typical in August.
A sensible response to hot weather in Denver is to travel up to the mountains, where it will be cooler and more comfortable. So, in addition to my hike near Breckenridge on the 11th, I made trips up to the mountains both of the following weekends.
September 19th was a repeat hike, to Windy Point at Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which is actually less than an hour’s drive from Denver. The first time I hike this particular trail, in October of 2013, the upper portions of the trail were already covered with snow.
This time, I got to experience the trail without such snowpack.
My other late season hike in the mountains involved a trip to a place I had never been before, but had been meaning to check out for quite some time, the Fourth of July trail outside of Nederland.
This hike in particular, on September 26th, represents the kind of opportunity that would not have been available had it not been for the unusual resistance of summer. This trailhead is at an elevation of just over 10,000 feet. By late September, one would expect high temperatures only in the mid 50s at this elevation, and not the warm conditions we experienced that day.
One thing I have come to notice during periods of abnormal weather is how the trees never seem to be fazed by the abnormal conditions. In the Midwest, when we would have a mid-winter thaw, like the one I had perviously mentioned, none of the trees would start growing leaves or anything. They would continue to stay the course, knowing what to expect from the rest of the season. Here in Colorado, the trees are still changing colors largely on schedule, with the later part of September being peak season for fall colors at these elevations.
I have actually come to realize that the most magnificent fall colors occur when there is a warm and dry fall. As it was last year, without windy, rainy, or even snowy weather early in the year, the leaves stay on the trees longer.
In a month where we sweated through 90 degree weather for Tour de Fat,
And one could attend a concert at Red Rocks without needing a jacket,
It is hard not to feel as if summer just has’t ended yet. We simply got to experience summer longer than anticipated.
Whether it be a season of the year, like winter or summer, or a chapter of our lives, we all anticipate change. We know that a change is destined to occur, and often have an idea in our heads as to when that change is destined to occur. However, sometimes, changes do not happen at the time they are anticipated. Sometimes in life, we are caught off guard by an unexpected change before we had fully prepared. We all have heard of at least one person who had endured an unexpected layoff, or an unplanned medical emergency. Other times, as is the case with the switch from summer to autumn across much of the United State this year, it takes longer than anticipated for the next chapter of our lives to begin.
As someone who loves hiking, cycling, and water sports, and is generally not too negatively impacted by hot weather, it is easy for me to welcome the unexpected extra month of summer. It is easy for me to say, in this case, that the best way to handle this delay, in the transition from summer to autumn, is to go out and enjoy it, take advantage of the opportunities, and be patient for the next season to start. But, I know that this is not the case for everybody. I also remember being the one frustrated by the lack of change. I remember one March in particular, when I was living in Madison, Wisconsin, that winter just seemed to never end- and I was beyond sick of it!
Fall is going to come. According to the weather report, by this coming weekend, October 2nd and 3rd, most of the country will be experiencing weather more typical of fall. Those that have grown tired of the heat, although they had to wait longer than expected for the cooler air to come, knew all along that it would, and that the changing of the season is inevitable.
At some point in time, we all end up in a place where we feel our lives have stagnated. We enter a place where our current situation, whether it be our job, or what we are doing on a day-to-day basis, has simply run it’s course. We have gotten what we need to have gotten out of the experience. Maybe it has become frustrating, or maybe it is just simply not inspiring to us at all. In these situations, the cycle of winter-spring-summer-fall we all live through on an annual basis serves as a reminder that the change we desire is inevitable. Sometimes it just takes longer than we had hoped.