Fall arrived in the Bighorns.

The musical flutter of the aspen leaves in variegated color, a Jackson Pollock effect of golds, oranges, and reds splashed across the mountainsides. While early to the rest of the world, the Bighorns were in the full bloom of Autumn.

It was the second-to-last-day before the rest of the crew would clear out of the ranch. I hiked along to the mesa. I was on the trail to CowCamp, my favorite.

Paradise was officially closed. On September 24th, the rest of the guests had left, and the following five days were a whirlwind: laundry bagged, water plugged, cabin doors shut, horses trailered to winter pasture, dishes packed, and the ancient elk mount draped in its winter wear, a ghostly white sheet….it was quiet…it was over.

Storms rolled into the Bighorn Mountains, and the peaks were soon blanketed in fresh snow. One day it was freezing, the next was warm. The bipolar temperature concocted a sort of misty fog-like cloud around the valley that hung suspended above the Mesa. It was soon bored of its sedentary state and began its curious descent into our valley. It came sneaking around Fan Rock before it crept into camp, and when it did, I walked out into it. Snow stuck to my glasses.

The season was over. Paradise was ready for winter and just in time.

Arrangements of Bach’s Cello Suite was playing in my ears. Balancing across the damp and crudely-made log bridge across French Creek, I passed through CowCamp and into the forest. The rest of the trail would wind along all the way back to Paradise Valley. This was my favorite part of the hike.

The brown of the mud was a perfect brunette. Bright changing colors of aspen and willow beside the florescent green and orange of the deadly wolf lichen covered cliffs enchantingly enhanced the fog.

Still in disbelief, this place was my home for the past three summers.

Nostalgia gripped my stomach, and this past season flashed before my eyes: the little cabin in the woods where I had lived with three of my best girl friends, nights of dancing, bonfires, music, road trips, sunsets, and late night hiking adventures that involved chasing cows…

Leah’s cancer was gone, and I worked beside her all summer.

Summer of 2017, were you my favorite? Not sure, but you sure are at the top.