John F. Russell: Packing a few things in before sun sets on summer | SteamboatToday.com

John F. Russell: Packing a few things in before sun sets on summer

— It wasn't until my alarm clock jolted me awake at 6 a.m. Wednesday that I truly realized my children were headed back to school for a new year, and that summer has officially drawn to a close.

How did this happen?

All the plans that I had made last spring — plans to go fishing, plans to hike deep into a mountain forest and plans to jump in my Subaru and drive to Denver to take in a Rockies game have faded away faster than a late August sunset.

Sure there are still more than a few warm weekends left this year, but I can't help feeling like I've let this summer melt away faster than one of those dipped ice cream cones you get at the local Dairy Queen during a heat wave.

These days, the ball parks, which were filled with Triple Crown baseball games, are now empty, and while there are still a few adult softball games left, the days of the 2015 season are slipping away faster than Rick Perry’s hopes of becoming president.

I would like to think I might be able to throw on my hiking shoes and hit the trail on a random Saturday afternoon or pick up the fishing pole to hook a rainbow trout as autumn closes in, but I also have to admit that would be a long shot. This fall, my weekends will be packed.

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The Steamboat Springs Youth Soccer Association begins its fall season this weekend, and I will spend most of my autumn weekend's on the road supporting my daughter as she chases her hopes and dreams on the soccer field.

When we are not out of town, weekends will present me with more practical opportunities than fishing some deserted high altitude mountain lake or jumping on my bike for a ride around Emerald Mountain.

The truth is I would be willing to bet my last dollar that the majority of my free days will be spent cleaning my house and helping my children catch up on homework. But given the chance, I do have a short list of things that I think everybody should do before the end of the summer.

• Take a trip to the upper falls at Fish Creek. It's an easy 2.5-mile hike from the parking lot to the falls. Along the way you will pass the main falls, take in scenic vistas and have a chance to get back to nature despite the fact that you’re not too far from downtown Steamboat.

• Grab the fishing pole, jump in the car and head to Hahn's Peak. If you like hitting the trail, this is a great time of year to hike to the top of the historic peak. The hiking adventure includes an abandoned U.S. Forest Service watch tower and a chance to take in 360 degree views from the top of this 10,000-foot peak. Fishing opportunities include Steamboat, Pearl and Hahn's Peak lakes. All are worth the drive knowing that on the way back you can stop by the Clark Store and get some ice cream.

• Hike to the Rabbit Ears on the pass. The hike is easy, but once again, the views from the ears are worth it. I'm sure most of the wildflowers are gone but taking this hike is something that I wish I had gotten to earlier.

The sad fact is that visiting these places and getting out and doing these things are a big reason that I live in Steamboat Springs. Each year, when my children head back to school, I look back on the summer, and I rarely think that I got to do everything I wanted to do. The good news is that eight months from now I can start planning what I want to do next summer.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966