Death on the Rio Grande Trail |

Death on the Rio Grande Trail

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” After a seven-month hiatus from running outside because of a knee injury, I have returned to the streets, trails and mountains for some real cardio work.

The treadmill at the Aspen Club was getting just a bit too comfortable, plus I began feeling dizzy from watching TV while my brain bounced around like a bobblehead.

The dizziness has dissipated, but now my stomach is queasy from what the natural food chain is serving up in the great outdoors. And since I take pleasure in exposing the nastiness this city offers, I have no hesitation in telling you about the abundant animal carcasses around town.

My runs mostly consist of long treks down the Rio Grande Trail. Last week, as I approached mile marker 3, I could see in the distance a flock of black crows gnawing on something. I approached with caution. As I got closer, the stench was overpowering. And then, there it was. A gutted deer on the northern snowbank with its insides strewn about on the pavement. I thought about turning back, but then I decided to get some speed work in and sprinted past the dead animal.

On my return leg, I sprinted past it again. About a mile or so later, Councilman Steve Skadron was running toward me. We tagged each other’s hands, and I chuckled to myself over the fact he was about to encounter the nastiness I had just witnessed.

Later that day, I saw Skadron at a City Council meeting. We shared our utter disgust at the gnarly site, and he informed me that he immediately called the parks department when he returned home from his run. I thought about doing it, but I knew he would. I figured a call from an elected official would carry more weight. But then again, reporters also carry some influence, but it’s always a crapshoot. Anyway, the parks department was on it. The carcass was gone the next day.

But a few days later, a rib cage was on the trail. And then yesterday, a dead animal ” I have no idea what kind ” was lying along the Rio Grande. I thanked Mother Nature that it hadn’t been picked apart yet.

I don’t know what is going on down by the river when we aren’t looking, but I see the results. I know pushing yourself physically isn’t supposed to be comfortable, but I guess, like all things Aspen, running along the Rio Grande has to be extreme as well.

Perhaps I will begin running up Smuggler. I’d take dog crap over carcasses any day.

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported no new snow on local slopes in the past 24 hours on Friday morning.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for the Aspen zone on Friday, March 7:

The avalanche danger is considerable on NE-E-SE aspects steeper than 35 degrees near and above treeline. West winds created some tender wind slabs. The danger is moderate on slopes that are less steep, or S-SW-W-NW-N, and all aspects below treeline. Human-triggered avalanches are still possible on those slopes.

Go to for the full report and information on conditions statewide.