October 14, 2013 at 2:34 PM

Aspen Vista Changing Colors

'There is a small window of time when many Santa Feans make the trek to the Sangres to see the Aspen Grove turning gold. This is that timeā€¦'

By Susie Morgan

Hoof Prints in Santa Fe

Susie Morgan is a lifetime lover of horses, the outdoors and lives for adventures. She lives in Las Campanas, and is reconnecting with horses after working 27 years in New York City.

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There is a small window of time when many Santa Feans make the trek to the Sangres to see the Aspen Grove turning gold. This is that time…

Today, a group from the Equestrian Center at Las Campanas met at Aspen Vista to ride up the mountain and find gold.

At 9 a.m. it is still chilly, but the sky is brilliant blue, and there are not many cars in the parking lot yet. One family of 4, including 2 small children, is up early to take in the sights.

The small girl is distracted by the sight of unexpected horses. I move my small mare up close enough to ask if the children would like to pet the horse. The woman encourages the older girl, and before long, she is smiling and patting away. Turns out, the child’s name is Anna, and we call my mare Anna Banana. The mother says about her daughter, “We call her Anna Banana all the time!” The small girl smiles.

We begin our equestrian accent amidst gold and green. The horses are spirited in the cool fresh air. At this early hour on a weekday, it is ideal for riders, as few people are out on the mountain trail this early. We have 7 riders along for this ride including Jenny, from La Fonda Hotel, who brings great enthusiasm and camaraderie with her this morning.

Donning gloves, jackets, neck warmers, and warm caps, some opt for rain coats just to keep the rain at bay. This works, but only to a point. As we gain very high altitude, we encounter a hail storm. It is gentle for hail, but still speaks to the drop in temperature. I change to winter gloves. We have ridden up beyond the Aspens at this point and decide the better of valor is to start back down. We encounter the only 3 mountain bikers braving the mountain at this early hour. We carefully approach, and they respectfully stop and dismount so we can pass safely.

At this point, we lose our youngest (albeit very experienced) rider, she's opted to turn back up the mountain for a quick sprint to see how high she can get.

She rejoins the group, and as we move lower, we leave the hail storm behind us. Now we are seeing more hikers, and photographers. The gold Aspens seem to bring everyone together for a smile and a hello, or a short chat, as we pass on the trail. We even see two equestrians coming up and we are descending. One man comments, “We rarely see other horses up here, and good for you!”

We re-enter the Aspen grove of falling gold and know we are close to the end of the ride, and if the season. Winter is not far away.

Las Campanas – visit http://www.theclubatlascampanas.com/Club/Scripts/Home/home.asp

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