Eternal moonlight of a spotless mind | AspenTimes.com

Eternal moonlight of a spotless mind

Joel Stonington

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN I got in my car Wednesday night, about to go on an adventure, and saw something on the floor. I picked it up and realized it was a bathing suit from hot tubbing the previous night – stiff as a board, frozen solid.This week has been like that, very good, but with a certain amount of detritus … dirty laundry, dishes waiting to be washed, low fuel gauge in the car. Everywhere I look there’s something to be done.No matter, I dashed home from work Wednesday to scarf down some pasta, pack my gear and head up toward Ashcroft with my roommate, Will. We got to Express Creek at 6:30 p.m., put on our skis and skins and started hiking. In 45 minutes we were past the turnoff to Markley Hut, about 2 miles in. At the two-hour point we were standing on top of Taylor Pass. The moon lit up the entire vista, and we slowly rotated to take it all in. The otherworldliness was somewhat overwhelming, but the cold kept bringing us back to reality. Clouds would roll across the moon and the whole scene would go dark for a few moments before bursting back into light.Then it was skins off and what felt like a blistering downhill, arms out, legs spread wide for balance in hunchback position. We passed Barnard Hut at the start of Richmond Ridge at 10 p.m. and continued along the ridge, the rollicking up and down made even wilder by the snowmobile whoop-de-doos. I made a few miscalculations as to when we should take off or leave on skins, so after a dozen or so times of skinning or de-skinning, we were at the top of Ajax. Aspen was laid out below, lit up with lights and the mountain was bathed in a cool blue glow of a moon shaded by clouds. We traversed over to Ruthie’s and skied down using muscle memory more than eyesight. At 1 a.m. we caught the bus back to the house. When I walked in, the dishes and laundry were still there waiting for me, and I gratefully took a hot shower before falling into a deep sleep.

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