Colors are truly fascinating. Every day we see endless numbers of them, their nuances and shades, and the combination of the different hues. On a trail run from the idyllic mountain village of Arolla up to Pas de Chèvres, we immerse ourselves in the autumn colors of the Alps and enjoy the colorful sight one more time before everything will soon sink under the wintery white cover of snow.
For me, colors are something very central, on the one hand in photography and on the other hand in my work as a product designer. Colors have an enormous influence on the effect of a photo scene, and in digital design they play a fundamental role anyway. After all, they have a considerable impact on both the appearance of a design, because depending on the colors it can have a professional, playful or casual effect, as well as the accessibility of digital products.
Although we often don’t even consciously perceive colors, they have a strong influence on how our environment affects us, as well as on our mood and sense of well-being.
Impressive glacier scenery
Below the north face of the Pigne d'Arolla, the fading ice stream of the Glacier de Tsijiore Nouve flows towards the valley.
On our trail run to Pas de Chèvres, we run through a whole palette of autumn colours, from golden trees to stone-grey rocks and steel-blue skies.
The first color we notice on our trail run is brown. After all, brown is the ultimate color of autumn. But brown also stands for nature and earth, for security and reliability.
Brown is also the trail on which we start, first between the sparse forests around Arolla and soon on the open meadow slopes above the small mountain village. The brown trail winds its way across the meadows, with our eyes we follow its course and we can guess where it will lead us until far up in the direction of the 2854 m high Pas de Chèvres.
But also the meadows around us meanwhile remind more of brown than of green. The plants have long since faded and lost their intense color. The nutrients from the leaves have migrated to the roots, where they wait for spring, when everything turns lush green again in the warming sun.
The larches that line the Val d’Arolla shine a strong golden yellow at this time of year, even if autumn has not yet reached every tree. In the hillsides of yellow and gold are still mixed sporadically light green larches, which are not yet ready, but in a few days they will also throw on their yellow dress.
Golden larches as far as the eye can reach
Autumn lays a golden veil over the Val d'Arolla. The lush larch forests right at the tree line turn a bright golden yellow and make the whole valley shine.
Next to the larch, the Swiss stone pine (also called Arolla pine) is one of the most common tree species in the Val d’Arolla. Unlike their golden neighbors, however, the Swiss stone pines do not shed their needles and with their dark green needle coat they form a colorful patchwork together with the larches.
In the meantime, however, we are already above the tree line, the path becomes increasingly stony and the plants rarer. Arriving at the Pas de Chèvres, which forms the transition to the Glacier de Cheilon, we now find more rock than vegetation around us. The predominant color up here, at 2854 meters above sea level, is clearly gray.
The color gray is often interpreted as hopeless, cool or dirty and it evokes negative associations such as desolation or boredom. But gray can also be different, because at the same time the simple achromatic color is considered soothing and differentiated and reminds us of fog, rainy weather and rock.
Our gray is limited to the rock, however, because there is no sign of bad weather here. Instead, to the left and right of the Pas de Chèvres, the mountain peaks rise to the sky. We stand in the sun enjoying the view across and down to the Glacier de Cheilon. The further our gaze wanders upwards, the more the gray rocks give way to a white layer of snow and ice. If we look down, the unfortunately not so eternal ice is lost under rubble and stone and in the gray desert the meltwater has collected in a turquoise blue glacial lake.
Dark turquoise blue
If you mix blue and green and let the whole thing fade a bit, you get a muted turquoise – or a glowing glacial lake in the middle of the high mountains. From Pas de Chèvres, the view inevitably falls on the meltwater lake that has formed rapidly since 2016 at the lower end of Glacier de Cheilon. The turquoise blue forms a striking color contrast to the otherwise rather dull surroundings and thus the lake is a real splash of color in the high alpine gray.
High Mountains — Happy People
(Color)Full of joy that I have completed the exhausting ascent to the Pas de Chèvres and can enjoy the stunning panorama. With my shirt I fit perfectly into the autumnal color palette.
Blue and green tones in general represent serenity, tranquility and thoughtfulness, and like a perfect match, this color fits its surroundings. As if nature wanted to give us a warning sign and tell us that it’s time to reflect and think – about the rapid glacier melt and the ever-increasing effects of climate change in general. Up here in the mountains, the consequences are already more apparent than almost anywhere else.
We spend some time, sinking into heavy thoughts, but also being happy that we can still experience such spectacular landscapes. But before we let our thoughts go and start our way back to the valley, our view goes up once more – above us the sky.
Breezy freshness, lightness and the vastness of the landscape, that and much more is what the color blue radiates. On our way back to Arolla, almost no cloud blurs the steel-blue sky and the contrast between gray rock, golden larches and brown earth is made complete by the blue of the sky.
In the end we are back in Arolla, with a tiring trail run in our legs and an autumnal color palette as a memory.
Product Designer and Content Creator. Whether digital or in "real" life, Marina is convinced that really good experiences depend on the story behind them. She gets the best inspiration for content and digital experiences on the road. As a part-time digital nomad, she sometimes works from home and sometimes from the van - with a view of rugged coastal or glacier landscapes.
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