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May 12, 2014
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On the Trail: Back to square one with soggy trails

I managed to sneak out after work Friday for a good mountain-bike ride, but after Sunday’s weather, it looks like it will be a while before that happens again.

Once I called it quits Friday afternoon, I studied the radar for rain showers. and I mulled Weather.com’s 15-minute breakdown of weather for El Jebel to see if I dared tempt fate with the ominous clouds. They were trying to trick me by thinning out every once in a while to allow the sunlight to flood through. It looked like I had a window between showers, so I dressed warm and went for it.

I’ve worked out harder than ever this winter with a small-group personal trainer, and I thought I was ready for almost anything, despite too precious little time in the saddle this spring. I was sadly mistaken.

The steep trail heading into The Crown off the Rio Grande Trail at Rock Bottom Ranch soon reaffirmed who is boss. I’ve ridden it much, much better many a time, and I know I will again, but the first early-season attempt can be so humiliating. It doesn’t matter how much time I log in a gym, there’s no substitute for riding time. My lungs were seared nearly from the start on the trail, and my will was broken by the time I hit the stretch that’s essentially Anaerobic Nightmare covered with baseball- and golf ball-sized rocks. I soon quit feeling sorry for myself, found a groove and completed a lengthy climb into the heart of The Crown.

I spent a solid two hours in the saddle and dodged the showers while soaking in spectacular sights of wildflowers. The trail was the perfect consistency of tacky but not gooey. Now with the snow, we’re back a couple of squares on trail conditions. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get too hot and too buggy too soon in the desert while our mountain snowpack melts out.

Sunday’s snow boosted the snowpack to amazing levels for this late in the season. The snowpack at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River was at 122 percent of average Monday at noon. The snow-water equivalent was 13.7 inches, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Snotel automated measuring station.

The snowpack at Ivanhoe, in the headwaters of the Fryingpan River, was at 130 percent. Schofield Pass in the Crystal Valley was at 124 percent of average. North Lost Trail, outside of Marble, hit 188 percent of average with a snow water equivalent of 6.0 inches.

Hikers and bikers will have to be patient this spring. It will be a while before the upper trails are clear of snow and running water.


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The Aspen Times Updated May 12, 2014 08:22PM Published May 15, 2014 07:51AM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.