Andrew Terrill

The outdoor diary of a writer, photographer, and wilderness wanderer

A Walk Into Solitude

A FEW PHOTOS from a walk on Friday: a saunter away from Guanella Pass into solitude.

fall tundra colors Geneva Mountain Guanella Pass 22 Sept 2023

The walk’s aim was to start from Guanella Pass (often an exceptionally busy place), wander south to the far-less visited Geneva Mountain, then head back north up the center of the broad valley of Scott Gomer Creek. The delights started early on: solitude after a few steps, bright sunlight that took the edge of the frosty morning air, and flaming colours of autumn in the tundra vegetation.

Geneva Mountain Mount Bierstadt Guanella Pass 22 Sept 2023

For the first mile I followed the Rosalie Trail, then detoured away from it to higher ground. With each step, the feelings of space, remoteness and great peace increased. Across the Scott Gomer valley rose Mount Bierstadt’s seldom visited southwest slopes.

Tundra Geneva Mountain Guanella Pass 22 Sept 2023

Looking ahead toward Geneva Mountain, the day’s destination. Beneath treeline, the aspen were yet to turn, but the season definitely resembled autumn up on the tundra.

Geneva Mountain Mount Bierstadt Mount Blue Sky Guanella Pass 22 Sept 2023

Gaining altitude, the panorama opened ever wider. To the east lay Mount Bierstadt, Mount Blue Sky, Epaulet Mountain, and Rosalie Peak – a fine spread of higher ground, and the focal point of my year’s wanderings.

fall tundra colors Geneva Mountain Guanella Pass 22 Sept 2023

The ‘big’ views were special, but so too were the small ones!

Geneva Mountain 22 Sept 2023

Geneva Mountain’s broad summit was easily reached. A short distance south of it, steep slopes plunged away toward the forested valley. This rugged and little-visited corner of the wilderness was a perfect spot for a long lunch break.

Abyss Valley 22 Sept 2023

The valley below is one of the finest locations for red and yellow aspen in the area. It’s a location I’ve walked through and camped within many times – more times than I can easily recall. Looking into it from above provided a new perspective.

Abyss Valley 22 Sept 2023

Normally, at this late date in September, the aspen would have been ‘aflame’ with peak autumn hues…. but the change this year is a week or so late, most likely because of higher-than-normal rainfall since spring.

Scott Gomer Creek Fall Colors 22 Sept 2023

The tundra and willow hues more than made up for the green aspen.

Scott Gomer Creek Fall Colors 22 Sept 2023

A gentle off trail-route across rough ground, through a willow maze, then the pine forest, led down to Scott Gomer Creek. A trail crosses the valley a short distance south of this spot, although it’s far from a well-used trail. Away from it, the valley is wonderfully, gloriously untrammeled.

Scott Gomer Creek Fall Colors 22 Sept 2023

The valley itself doesn’t appear to have a name. So let’s call it ‘Broad Vale’. Or, at this time of year, ‘The Vale of Gold’.

 Big Rock Scott Gomer Creek Fall Colors 22 Sept 2023

Right in the center of the vale, amid the wide-open sweeping slopes, sits a lone massive rock, an erratic deposited long ago by a glacier of old.

Big Rock Scott Gomer Creek Fall Colors 22 Sept 2023

It was a soothing location to while away time – a location that had a great sense of ‘place’. I sat in stillness in sunlight that now felt warm, entertained by the singing stream, and merged into the moment. Soon, biting winds will sweep this open place. In a few weeks, ice will likely creep across the stream and snow will settle in hard-packed drifts, not to thaw again until May or June. But for now, the harsh reality of the fast-approaching winter seemed far, far distant. As did the human world. This big rock felt like the centre of a benign and welcoming paradise.

I stayed a long while.

Scroll to Top