The Sunday dawn broke unseasonably warm and bright. I was the lone human at home and suffering cabin fever, so I smuggled Wyatt out of the house and set off for the Front Range foothills to the west. (Though Miles’s hiking days are over, he becomes indignant if he thinks he’s being left behind; every outdoor outing is thus a covert operation that requires maximum stealth.)
Our intended destination was a recently discovered—by us, at least—trail near the hamlet of Bailey, Colorado. The Forest Service road to the trailhead was closed, however, so we continued down the highway to Tyler Pasture, an ever-ready backup we often bypass in favor of flashier destinations; it is the “Rudy” of trails.
Unlike its nearby namesake, the popular Ben Tyler Trail, Tyler Pasture isn’t marked by a roadside sign. This seems to afford it some anonymity, although the old four-wheel drive path that serves as a trail shows signs of at least a cult following: footprints from humans, dogs and horses; tracks and scat from deer, elk and moose; the occasional ironic shotgun shells (there are two “No Shooting” signs at the pasture’s entry). Yet we have rarely encountered a soul there aside from the wildlife.
The pattern held on Sunday, down to the fauna. Wyatt squealed impatiently as we passed a few deer browsing creekside and he remained frustratingly tethered.
I am unsure if the creek that borders the pasture is Ben Tyler Creek, though such a stream exists. There is also a Ben Tyler Gulch. Tyler, according to the Forest Service, ran a regional lumber mill during the Colorado gold rush of the late 1800s. A neighboring gulch bears the name of his brother, Bill.
Tyler Pasture has provided four-season solitude. On this particular day, the thermometer and the sun said spring, but the wind reminded us that winter still held serve. For a few hours, Wyatt bounced between patches of snow and sun-baked boulders, and we savored the best of both seasons.