| AspenTimes.com

Keystone proposes new lift in Bergman Bowl, would access 500 acres

DILLON — If Keystone Resort’s latest expansion plan comes to fruition, there will be hundreds more acres of high-Alpine, lift-served bowl skiing in Summit County.

On Friday morning, Keystone Resort announced it had submitted a proposal to the U.S. Forest Service to provide lift-served skiing in the resort’s Bergman and Erickson bowls. The pair of bowls currently are accessible only via hiking and the resort’s cat skiing program.

“This is just the very, very beginning of the process … but we really wanted to be transparent with the community and let them know we’re working with the Forest Service to take these steps,” Keystone spokeswoman Loryn Roberson said.

In a news release, she said the winter-only proposal would included a new lift in Bergman Bowl, which would provide access to more than 500 acres of terrain in the Bergman and Erickson bowls. Keystone’s proposal also includes new snowmaking, trails and a warming hut in Bergman Bowl.

The proposal, Roberson said, aligns with the resort’s master development plan, which was accepted by the Forest Service in 2009.

Keystone most recently replaced the Montezuma lift in winter 2017-18, but the last time the resort added a new lift was in 1997, when the Ranger lift was installed, Roberson said. The last major lift-served terrain expansion was the Outback in 1991.

Keystone Vice President and General Manager Jody Churich was quoted in the release as saying the project would be transformational for the resort, allowing guests to spread out across the resort and better use existing terrain above tree line. Churich said the plan also would open up a bowl skiing experience that would appeal to a wide variety of ability levels, from novice to expert.

Keystone Resort currently offers 3,149 acres of skiable terrain, more than 1,700 of which are hike-to or snowcat access in the Independence, Bergman, Erickson, North and South bowls.

Roberson said the snowcat shuttle service to Bergman and Erickson bowls will continue until a lift is built. The Keystone Adventure Tours guided cat skiing program will remain unchanged in the Independence Bowl area.

“We’re excited to submit the (proposal), but of course we know we have a long road ahead of us before we actually see anything come to fruition,” Roberson said.

All proposals are subject to the Forest Service’s approval. Roberson said the resort is working closely with the Forest Service on the project, which she said will be designed to minimize environmental impacts. Roberson said the Forest Service will outline next steps in the timeline and approval process.

Dillon District Ranger Bill Jackson said Friday that the Forest Service had been working with Keystone on the plan, including a visit to the area in the summer to do a “through inventory” and try to anticipate any hydrology, wildlife or wetlands impacts.

“The resort, they’ve been contemplating this for a number of years,” Jackson said. “It’s been in part of their vision as a resort to put some lift-served skiing in those back bowls.”

That advance work helped shape the proposal that was submitted Friday, he said.

Jackson said the Forest Service now has 60 days to review the proposal. If it’s accepted as is, it becomes a formal application, and then the National Environmental Policy Act process begins. That includes a public comment period as well as efforts to “further eliminate or mitigate any resource impacts” and is expected to take about 6 months to a year, Jackson said.

“One thing going for this project is there’s been public use back there, with snow cat skiing … and it’s been open to hike-to skiing and boarding for a long time, so it’s an area that sees human use,” Jackson said. “So that makes a big difference in looking at impacts, particularly wildlife impacts.”

The area already is within the resort’s operating boundary, which makes the process easier, Jackson said.

If the Forest Service approves the application, Keystone still would need funding for the project from parent company Vail Resorts.

Hundreds gather to salute Summit firefighter who died in Copper Mountain condo fire

LITTLETON — Hundreds came out in support of fallen Summit County firefighter Ken Jones on Friday morning, as a seemingly endless procession of fire engines, police cars, motorcycles and more made its way through the streets of Littleton.

The procession, composed largely of fire and emergency service vehicles from across the state, made its way from the funeral home in Lakewood, where a group of firefighters stood in watch over Jones’ body, to the Waterstone Community Church in Littleton, where family, friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate his life.

As the solemn parade of red and blue lights wound its way through the area, residents and first responders gathered on the sides of the roads to watch it pass and to pay their respects.

“It was astoundingly moving,” said Steve Lipsher, a spokesperson for Summit Fire & EMS who rode in the procession. “We had entire schools that had their students lined up along the sidewalks with their hands over their hearts. We had hundreds of firefighters and paramedics and law enforcement in the procession but also hundreds along the path standing at attention and saluting as we went by. … Hundreds of bystanders stopped to take a moment and honor Ken as the procession was just passing.

“It was all quite touching. … I don’t know if anyone could ever see that kind of outpouring of admiration and respect for one of our fallen friends and comrades without getting emotional about it.”

Jones died during the early morning of Dec. 7, after falling from a five-story building while fighting a fire near Copper Mountain Resort. Jones lived in Lakewood with his family and worked in Summit County, and his death has made an impact across the entire state, as exhibited by the flurry of support by other emergency workers who came to remember him and to stand in unity with his family.

“Firefighters tend to call each other brother and sister,” said Assistant Chief Jerry Rhodes with South Metro Fire Rescue. “Part of having the right to do that is being together in the good times and the bad times. Whether you knew Ken or not, this is an opportunity to be there, to take care of his family, and to support Summit Fire and their neighboring departments.”

Firefighters from around Colorado have been stepping up since Jones’ death in whatever capacities they can to lend a hand. While Summit Fire & EMS firefighters took some time to grieve and to attend the funeral, others arrived to help fill the gaps in service.

On Thursday and Friday, Summit County was being looked after with fire and medical crews from outside the area, including those from Clear Creek, Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Lake, Park, Pitkin and Routt counties and more.

Others offered to assist in other ways, such as standing watch over Jones’ body until the funeral. In firefighter tradition, it’s customary for two firefighters to stay with a fallen comrade’s body from the time of death until the funeral, a gesture meant to provide some solace to the family knowing their loved one is never alone, according to Rhodes.

Rhodes, who stood three watches himself, said firefighters from all over the state came to stay with Jones, and that many shifts were overbooked, with three or four firefighters wanting to volunteer. For those standing watch, it can be a therapeutic experience in which they get to focus their attention toward Jones and those who knew him.

“The first thing is you get a little quiet time to think about your brother,” Rhodes said. “It also gives you time to pray for not only your fallen brother but for his family. … Then it’s time to get into conversation. Firefighters love to tell stories and talk. It brings up folks that have passed before that you were close to, and we kind of balance that by saying a few funny things that hopefully would have brought a smile to Ken’s face.

“Really the sentiment is we’re there to support the Jones family. We’d ask the public, in their own special way, to do the same.”

So far, the public has risen to the challenge. Less than a week from the incident, community members already have made considerable efforts to provide some comfort to the Jones family.

The Summit Foundation set up a fund to help support the family, and so far more than $20,000 has been raised from individuals, businesses and local governments.

“It’s still coming in,” foundation Executive Director Jeanne Bistranin said. “People are just pouring their hearts out because that’s what Summit County is all about. Any time there’s a need here, people want to help each other. Everybody wants to give back, and it’s really amazing.”

Others are helping out on other ways, such as the High Country Training Center, which is currently collecting Christmas presents for Jones’ kids, or the Breckenridge Elementary students who visited the Summit Fire headquarters to drop off handmade cards.

But perhaps most notable is that Jones’ family won’t have to worry about their mortgage anymore thanks to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The foundation, which provides financial assistance to families of first responders who lost a loved one in the line of duty, has agreed to assume the mortgage on the Jones family’s home.

“He dedicated 20 years of his life to protecting that community, and the people in it,” a Tunnel to Towers spokesman said. “He helped to save who knows how many lives. It’s our turn to step up and do something for him and his family.”

As Jones’ families at home and at the fire department continue to grieve, the efforts of the community to share their support and try to take some of the burden off those affected is certainly not lost on them.

“I was expecting a big show of support, but it exceeded even my expectations,” said Summit Fire Chief Jeff Berino, noting about 1,000 individuals attended the service. “The ceremony was packed. We told a few Ken stories, which was wonderful to share with everybody.

“We’re more than grateful for the out-of-county fire and ambulance folks that filled in for us. We’re going to try and get our lives back to normal. Some of the firefighters want to get back to their jobs. Part of their healing process is getting back up there and helping people. But being able to honor him today was huge.”

Preps: Aspen hockey tops Crested Butte for first win; AHS boys basketball also wins

The good part was the Aspen High School hockey team won its first game Saturday. The bad part was it took a lot of goals to get it done.

Hosting Crested Butte for the second time in less than 24 hours, the Skiers won 5-4 at Lewis Ice Arena to get victory No. 1 on the season. Friday night, AHS lost 5-3 to the Titans, resulting in a split of the two-game homestand.

“They found a way to win,” Aspen coach Dru Lucchesi said after Saturday’s game. “They know they need to take care of business. They know this shouldn’t have been this close, but once again we can’t take care of the puck on our end. We are just giving them freebie goals, and that can’t happen. Our team can score goals, it’s just we have to keep the puck out of our net right now.”

Aspen’s season opener was a 6-1 loss at Battle Mountain on Wednesday. Meaning, through a 1-2 start, the Skiers have allowed a combined 15 goals, Lucchesi pointing out a sloppy zone defense as the culprit. The AHS offense has tallied nine goals of its own in that span.

“When they get into the offensive zone they make really good plays and they are using their bodies really well. They are getting opportunities. It wasn’t a ton of shots, we wanted more, but they are making the most out of them right now,” Lucchesi said. “We have a lot of speed, they just need to realize how to use it and the biggest part of it is getting out of our ‘D’ zone.”

Saturday against the Titans, Aspen’s offense came out firing with goals from Robbie Fitzgerald and Jack Pevny, but a pair of goals by Crested Butte that straddled the first two periods made it 2-2. A goal by Eli Hunt midway through the second period briefly gave Aspen the lead back, but it was 3-3 going into the third.

The Titans’ Graham Barrett scored his second goal of the game less than a minute into the final period, putting the Skiers in a 4-3 hole. About five minutes later, Aspen’s Connor Chesner scored the equalizer and it was Pevny’s goal with less than five minutes to play that won it.

With only four official practices under their belt to go with three games, Lucchesi said the team just needs more ice time and it can all come together.

“That really is our biggest hindrance right now is just taking care of our ‘D’ zone, getting the puck out. We have bodies in front of the net we still aren’t taking care of,” Lucchesi said. “Once again, the base of what we have is really exciting. It’s just getting everything together, getting all the glue and eventually it’s going to gum and it’ll be buzzing, it’ll be fun.”

Aspen will play once more before the holiday break when it hosts Steamboat Springs at 7:45 pm. Friday at Lewis Ice Arena.

Aspen boys basketball starts winning streak, beats Lotus

The Aspen High School boys basketball team wrapped up play in Meeker on Saturday with a 58-39 win over the Lotus School of Excellence. The victory came a day after Aspen rolled over Soroco for its first win of the season, 65-35. Now 2-2 overall with losses to Rifle and Mancos, Aspen is scheduled to play Vail Christian on Thursday in its home opener and final game before the holiday break.

The AHS girls basketball team’s game Saturday at Hotchkiss was canceled. They will also host Vail Christian on Thursday.

Basalt basketball falls to Riverdale Ridge on Saturday

The Basalt High School boys basketball team closed out play at the Weld Central tournament on Saturday with a 77-70 loss to Riverdale Ridge. BHS lost 67-51 to Weld Central on Friday, but got its first win of the season on Thursday, a 57-48 victory over Vail Mountain. The Longhorns, now 1-5, will play Friday at Rifle in their final game before the holiday break.

The Basalt girls (1-2) did not play this weekend after Friday’s game against South Park was canceled due to the weather. They also play Friday at Rifle to close out the early-season schedule.


Photos: Aspen Misc., Dec. 15, 2019

Willoughby: “What if” questions increase gratitude for our past reality

People like to guess what may have happened if past events, people, or trends had differed from reality. They pose questions such as, “What would have happened if the Mayflower had landed in Florida instead of Plymouth?” Then they invent an imagined set of consequences. The following “What if” scenarios would have changed Aspen.

What if the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, rather than the Colorado Midland, had gone belly up first? Highway 82 was constructed largely along the Midland’s previous route. If the D and R-G had closed, the highway may instead have taken over that right of way, on the opposite side of the Roaring Fork. Such happenstance may have kept the highway to Aspen on the north side of the valley. After crossing the river near town, the road’s passengers would have exited onto Mill Street.

Local advocates of alternative transportation have pondered what would have happened if Aspen’s mining era trolley system had not gone out of business. They wonder what if the tracks had not been removed. If the tracks remained, the answer is simple. Tracks extended above the grade of the streets, and speedy automobiles threatened their longevity as well as their cars. But converting trolley energy sources from horse-drawn to electric motors may have preserved them into the current century, a welcome alternative to noisy cars and buses.

During the Depression and again in the 1950s, planners proposed to dam the Roaring Fork east of town. Imagine the valley filled with a reservoir. Would Aspen’s real estate have boomed, despite buyers who may have feared to live below a major dam? Would wind surfing in Aspen have taken on as much cachet as skiing? The Bureau of Reclamation, in the 1950s, came close to building one, but shifted it to the Frying Pan through the efforts of James Hopkins Smith. He owned land in the Stillwater area and, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, maintained connections with Washington.

Modern Aspen would certainly be diminished had Elizabeth Paepcke not skied there during in the 1930s, and pushed Walter, her husband, to look at the place. Walter had hatched a slightly different plan while he formulated his “Aspen idea.” He wanted to shoehorn business people out of big cities and deliver them to a quiet location. Originally, he had chosen land near Pagosa Springs.

During the Cold War the fear of nuclear weapons kept people awake at night. Denver’s banks and perhaps the Denver Mint considered hauling their records and cash to Aspen if an attack loomed. They intended to use Aspen’s mines for secure storage. Had that arrangement taken place, additional vital infrastructure could have found protection within miles of tunnels and large underground stopes. What if NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain underground security complex, or something similar, had been built in Aspen? Using resources from the Aspen Center for Physics, what if a linear accelerator had been constructed in the mines? Why dig a new facility when a secondhand tunnel stands ready for new uses?

What if the Aspen Ski Club had not formed? Without the club there may have been no skiing on Aspen Mountain. The Highland Bavarian project might, instead, have moved forward with a village in Ashcroft, with lifts built to the high points near Electric Peak. With that plan implemented, a second ski area might have grown on Aspen Mountain, but much later, maybe around the time Vail appeared.

Whether you’re waiting in traffic or on the lift line, the “What if” game endlessly entertains the mind. But when you project the consequences of such changes into the future, you may feel more grateful for our past reality.

Tim Willoughby’s family story parallels Aspen’s. He began sharing folklore while teaching Aspen Country Day School and Colorado Mountain College. Now a tourist in his native town, he views it with historical perspective. Reach him at redmtn2@comcast.net.

Lift 1A side of Aspen same as it ever was

As Lift 1A on Aspen Mountain’s west side started spinning Saturday, the landscape around it likely will look much the same next season as developers slow their roll on plans to construct hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial space at the base.

However, Lift One Lodge developers Michael and Aaron Brown, who walked away from a voter-approved development plan for the base at Aspen Mountain this past summer, are back at the table with the group they had lost confidence in earlier this year.

The Browns are moving forward with the Gorsuch Haus group to develop roughly 320,000 square feet of lodge and commercial space at the western base of Aspen Mountain.

The Lift One Lodge is a 107,000-square-foot timeshare project and the Gorsuch Haus is a 64,000-square-foot luxury hotel.

Lift One Lodge will add 34 fractional interest and six full-interest condominiums at the base. Gorsuch Haus will add 81 rooms.

The project also comes with a new chairlift coming 500 feet farther down the hill to Dean Street.

The Browns this fall applied for a six-month extension to submit their final review plans for approval on the details of the project.

As approved by ordinance, those documents are due no later than March 5, according to city planner Ben Anderson.

“There’s a lot of work their design team has to work on,” he said Friday. “They are saying they are not ready.”

Anderson noted that the engineering aspect of the site will be difficult, and there will need to be a lot of coordination among all of the landowners involved.

City Manager Sara Ott said Friday the decision to extend the deadline can be made administratively in the community development department, or it can be presented to Aspen City Council.

“We need to understand some things first,” Ott said. “We need to understand the rationale for the request, and for the partners to understand the request.”

Michael Brown wouldn’t comment on the status of his role in the project that voters approved by a 26-vote margin March 5.

But Jim DeFrancia, principal of Lowe Enterprises and a partner with the Gorsuch team, confirmed last week that the development team is reassembled.

That’s despite the Browns having reservations earlier this year because the Gorsuch group had been looking for an investor in a recapitalizing effort.

DeFrancia said Norway Island LLC, the company behind Gorsuch, is “fully funded for the efforts undertaken for the next steps.”

The Browns sent a letter to the city in July informing the government that they were walking away from the combined development.

And they’ve been tight-lipped ever since.

When what the status of their role was in the publicly funded, publicly approved development in August, Michael Brown responded in an email to The Aspen Times saying, “We don’t feel the need to utilize the press as our means of expressing ourselves to the public, at this time.”

The Browns were planning to rely on their previous entitlements for a timeshare lodge.

That 2011 approval, which was amended in 2016 for more commercial space, includes roughly 100,000 square feet with 22 timeshares and five residential condos, along with a ski museum.

It also includes 100% housing mitigation, which is for 91 full-time employees.

As part of the ordinance that voters approved, an escrow account with the city’s $4.36 million contribution toward the development must be established by the end of the year.

Aspen City Council on Tuesday is set to vote on a resolution approving an escrow agreement with Lift One Lodge Aspen LLC.

The city’s contribution will go toward public amenities like a refurbished and relocated Skier’s Chalet Lodge that would serve as a ski museum on site.

In passing the question, 1,555 voters also blessed a skiers’ services space, restaurants, bars and a parking garage, among other amenities.

The terms in the escrow agreement state the money will remain in the account until either a new chairlift has been installed by Aspen Skiing Co., or the city’s cost-sharing obligation expires because the project hasn’t proceeded.

That clause is standard and is meant to protect taxpayer money in the event that the project stalls, noted Ott.

“We don’t want the public’s money unfairly being held up because the developer is underperforming,” Ott said, adding that it appears the parties involved are moving forward in a positive manner. “We want to make sure the public’s interest is protected.”

City Attorney Jim True said it’s the city’s obligation to set aside the money, since it was part of Ordinance 38 that voters passed.

“This is the first deadline and I am recommending the city comply,” he said.

The city also would be released from its cost-sharing obligation if Lift One Lodge Aspen formally withdraws in writing its approvals granted in the ordinance.

Anderson said it appears that all entities involved are showing a new energy for the project.

“The folks are talking,” he said. “We are being optimistic.”


Tweet All About It: An Ikonic destination

Each week, we pick out our favorite and not-so-favorite tweets (at least those that are printable) about Aspen and display them on Sunday’s page A2.

“#Aspen is a rather unassuming place in the US state of #Colorado. But as soon as the first snow falls, the town turns into a #ski paradise.” — @ElumbusEN

“I am trying to eat dinner at a #DC restaurant during a work trip, but I am eating at the bar and sitting next to a middle-aged DC douchebag hitting on a younger woman. He literally just used the line “I am building a cabin in Aspen.” I almost laughed out loud. #UglyHollywood” — @JustinPearsonIJ

“Aspen looks like a tiny Christmas Village from Hallmark.” — @msummertk421

“Lucky to be chaperoning the Senior Ski Trip to Aspen, Colorado! The kids are having a BLAST! @TSB_Tigers” — @TSB_English_

“Mike can you make a TV drama series set in 70’s Aspen ski culture? Music and style would be insane. Season 3 culminates with Claudine literally getting away with murder.” — @JohnMartinIV

“Old NWO stars don’t go to heaven when their careers die; They head to the Aspen Institute” — @WorldTribune

“Totally missed a chance to talk about a little place called ‘Aspen’. C’mon dude!” — @GregHeav5

“We took the gold!! #aspengayskiweek Thank you for everyone who voted.” — @aspengayskiweek

“Year 1 of the Ikon Pass – 37 new places (other than Aspen) to take the new bad boys too. Can a few road trips to (Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Park City, Tahoe , Revelstoke. Zermatt) be on the 2020 calendar” — @12roxia

“That would be like taking directions to Aspen from Lloyd and Harry Dunne.” — @JoeMyGod

The Aspen Times can be found on Twitter, as well. Simply type “TheAspenTimes” (no spaces) into the search bar, and get daily updates on what’s happening in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Aspen Highlands big winner with 15 inches overnight; snowstorm moves out

Snow was expected to continue into Sunday evening, but a winter storm warning was canceled Sunday morning as the storm pushed through southern Colorado.

In the Sunday morning snow report from Aspen Skiing Co., Aspen Highlands picked up 15 inches in 24 hours; 20 inches in the past 48 hours. Over the past week at the resort, 3 feet of snow has fallen.

Snowmass reported 12 inches overnight and 16 inches in the past 48 hours, and Aspen Mountain had 11 inches since Saturday morning and 15 inches in two days.

The National Weather Service said snowfall was “moderate to heavy” through the weekend in the Elk and Gore mountains.

The weekend storm created slick road conditions, which local and county law enforcement officials said led to several slide offs and minor accidents Friday through Sunday, including a roll over on lower Brush Creek Road. There were no major injuries, officials stated.

The snowstorm also raised avalanche concerns for the backcountry, and an avalanche warning has been issued through Sunday night because of “intense snowfall and strong winds.”

Strong winds atop Sheer Bliss

The Sheer Bliss lift opened Saturday at Snowmass to some windy conditions. Snowmass picked up a foot of new snow Saturday. https://bit.ly/2tlRu6T

Posted by Snowmass Sun on Sunday, December 15, 2019

In the avalanche warning, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said slides in the backcountry could be deadly with all the new snow on the older layers.

“You can trigger avalanches from a distance or from below slopes. These avalanches will be large enough to bury and kill you,” the CAIC warns. “Wind-drifted slopes will produce the deepest and most dangerous avalanches, but you can very easily trigger a slab avalanche on any steep terrain. Travel in and below avalanche terrain is not recommended. You can find safer riding options on lower angle slopes in wind-sheltered areas.”

After this storm moves through, the rest of the week will be dry and colder starting Monday through midweek “with a slow warming trend at mid slopes by late week. … Expect drying weather for the remainder of the week and weekend.”

High Q dispensary first in Snowmass

Snowmass Village’s first retail marijuana dispensary, High Q, opened its doors to the public Saturday morning.

“The day we put the sign on the door made it so real,” Renee Grossman, owner of High Q, said of opening the village’s first and only dispensary. “It really is rewarding to see it all come together. Patience and hard work has paid off.”

The new High Q — located on the upper level of the Village Mall adjacent to Little Mammoth Steakhouse and the elevator — is the first to go through the town’s relatively new marijuana licensing process, created in March, and was approved by Snowmass Town Council on Oct. 29.

Since then, Grossman and her staff worked to renovate the soon-to-be dispensary space, installing a U-shaped counter with four points of sale and glass display casing, along with a secure back room for employees to weigh, package and store the shop’s organically fed cannabis products.

Grossman and her investors intend to offer locals and town visitors a wide selection of marijuana-infused products at reasonable prices. The shop also hopes to serve as a positive contributor to the local community, when appropriate, and to educate consumers on all things marijuana, as previously reported.

“This store won’t be different than our others, but what really separates us from other dispensaries is the fact that our flower is grown in a living soil,” said Grossman, who also owns High Q shops in Silt and Carbondale.

Over the past week, Grossman said the Snowmass shop has received roughly $100,000 worth of marijuana inventory, and will have a handful of specials for visitors and locals during the shop’s soft opening weekend.

Prior to the Saturday High Q opening, Grossman said Snowmass police officials toured the store, and Town Council was invited for a sneak peek Friday afternoon.

For about 30 minutes, Grossman walked council members Bill Madsen and Tom Goode, along with Town Manager Clint Kinney, around both the front and the back of the store, showing off the shop’s extensive security system, signage, display area and marijuana tracking system.

She explained that although the shop was to open Saturday and remain open seven days a week moving forward, the Snowmass High Q’s grand opening event was set for the week between Christmas Day and New Years Day.

The town officials asked a few questions about the operational aspects of the dispensary, and wished Grossman luck on the shop’s opening day.

“It’s just really exciting,” Grossman said. “We hope everyone comes to check us out.”

High Q will operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. The shop is only open to adults older than 21-years-old and a greeter will check IDs at the door.


On the Fly: ‘Why so serious?’

Every December I make a stack of resolutions. Do I follow through on most of them into the New Year? Nope. This year is going to be different, I swear. My plan is to stop and smell the roses more. Easy, right? It seems that when I’m out fishing here in the Valley, I’m always in a sweat. In a sweat to catch more fish than that angler on the other side of the river. In a sweat to be the first boat off the ramp. Always hurrying, looking toward that next fish, next bend in the river, and at the end of the day I’ve managed to stare at a fly, drift boat line or indicator all day instead of absorbing the beauty of the Valley.

My plan this time around is to laugh more, grind less. Shoot more pictures than fly lines. Look up, not down all day. The fish will still be here tomorrow, I don’t have to catch them all today. This year, the camera gets packed before the rods. I’m going to focus on epic shore lunches and enjoying my friends versus beating the hell out of every fish I can find.

This is the year of flipping over river rocks in the search for what fly to tie on. Sitting and thinking instead of frantically re-rigging. Maybe I’ll even buy those tiny dries instead of tying them myself; that will save me on the frustration factor. I’ll be the guy on the side of the river reading a book and waiting for the hatch. The guy who goes fishing at noon, not daybreak. I hope to see you on the water this year, I’ll be the guy laughing at the ouzels, with my fly rod leaning against a tree.

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.