First Snow is the title of a painting that spotlights Maroon Bells, probably the most photographed and painted mountain in the US. Maroon Bells is located near Aspen, Colorado and is especially spectacular in the fall. A light snowfall adds nice contrast to the scene.
|First Snow 24" x 30" / 61cm x 76cm|
Maroon Peak, slightly right of center, and North Maroon Peak (to the left of the "main" peak) are both "fourteeners," meaning the elevation at the peaks is over 14,000 feet / 4.3km. In autumn, the scene features my favorite color harmony: yellow, green and blue. Grasses, trees and rocks poke through the frozen stuff, while the higher elevation mountains are totally coated with snow.
The aspens are either yellow, green or barren (meaning -- they've dropped all of their leaves). If you've ever been in the high country where aspens flourish and show off their fluorescent coloring in the fall, you may notice not all of the trees are golden-yellow. The hillsides look like a patchwork quilt, as I've depicted them here.
Why, you may ask? Because aspens send out underground shoots which develop into trees. Thus, we end up with sets of aspen groves, each tree being a clone of the original aspen. The trees within a grove are genetically identical and behave the same way -- one grove turns brilliant yellow which is next to a grove that remains green, then drops their leaves. Some groves are already done with autumn and have dropped all of their leaves already.
And when the first heavy snow comes along, autumn is over and all of the trees drop leaves and go dormant.
You may also notice most of the evergreens (Colorado blue spruce, mainly) are on north or west-facing slopes -- the trees like the coolness and moisture there. Aspens prefer more sun and warmth, and tend to grow on south and eastern hillsides. (Note: standing in the spot depicted, you are facing southwest).
The Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness is an incredibly beautiful area, although getting there when the weather is good (i.e., not cloudy, raining or snowing) can be challenging. Also, so many people understandably want to go there in the fall that one must catch a shuttle bus in the town of Aspen to get there. That, or walk the eight miles uphill from the gates to Maroon Lake!
If you haven't already been to Maroon Bells, I hope you get to see them. In the fall.