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Falling for autumn

Caramie Schnell
Matt Inden/The Vail TrailWrangler Lyndsay Hackman and writer Caramie Schnell meander along the trails in Cordillera on a recent fall day.
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“Nature is the art of God,” Dante Alighieri

Fall, though ever short here in the valley, is a luminous, sometimes ethereal, time. The crisp air has just a slight chill that lies just on the peripheral, hinting of snowfalls to come. The mountains seem clearer, with cleaner lines and brighter definition, making the orange and yellow aspen leaves pop.

And the steady, methodic gait of a horse is the perfect background noise for visions of bright aspen stands under blue skies. It’s easy to let your mind wander, to lose yourself in the gentle rhythm of the horse and the rustling leaves in the trees.

Bearcat Stables, located in Cordillera on the historic Bearden Homestead (circa 1914), was started by owners Gavin Selway and Shana Devins more than seven years ago. What started as wintertime sleigh rides has turned into a year-round outfitting company that stays busy sending locals and tourists out on horseback rides, hunting and packing trips and horsedrawn carriage and sleigh rides.

One of the more popular, unique rides Bearcat offers is the four-day Vail to Aspen horseback trip, which only take place during two months out of the year, in July and August. The trips include stays in some of the 10th Mountain Division huts located between 11,000 and 12,000 feet, and at guest ranches. The trips are usually entirely booked for the next summer by Christmas time, Devins said.

Selway, who worked six out of the eight trips this past summer, said it was nice to get away from civilization for a time.

“I like doing the Vail to Aspen rides, and being out away from the cell phone,” Selway said. “I really like meeting different people from all over the place, spending four days with them and being in the wilderness, it’s great.” VT

Call Bearcat Stables at (970) 926-1578 for more information or to book some quality time with a horse.


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