First day of spring brings new activities, weather predictions |

First day of spring brings new activities, weather predictions

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Flyfishing in the Roaring Fork Valley is one of many activites availble in the off season.
Louis Cahill/Courtesy of Taylor Creek Fly Shops |

While it may have felt like spring for the past several weeks, during which the area experienced unusually high temperatures compared with previous years, today marks the first day of spring.

Springtime typically is Aspen’s quietest season, and it also is primetime for some of locals’ favorite activities, like fly-fishing, backcountry skiing and mountain biking.

Taylor Creek Fly Shop fly-fishing guide Ham Wallace said spring is his favorite time to fly-fish in the valley because the weather is better than in the winter and the summer tourist crowds have yet to arrive.

“Then there is the runoff,” Wallace said. “Increased flows and turbidity of local rivers allows the angler to use larger flies and heavier tippet.”

Mountain biking typically sees its peak during the summer, though there is never a bad time to bike, according to Erik Skarvan, cycling enthusiast and founder of the local outfitter Sun Dog Athletics.

Because Aspen’s bike trails aren’t typically dry until later in the spring, many bikers head downvalley to sample the “sweet single-track” around Prince Creek or Mushroom Rock near Carbondale, Skarvan said.

Fruita and Moab have been extremely popular for local mountain bikers for decades, as both areas continue to expand their single-track and other amenities.

Skarvan said Smuggler and Hunter Creek are still considered Aspen’s primary hub of trails and that they continue to expand, most recently with the new Hummingbird Trail last summer.

Several bike shops in the area report that the popularity of mountain biking is at an all-time high.

“The sport offers an intoxicating mix of aerobic challenge, bike handling skills and escape into the mountains,” Skarvan said.

Spring skiing has been in full force for quite some time now, with this month’s temperatures averaging about 7 degrees higher than usual — jumping from a typical average of 30 degrees up to 37 degrees, as averaged from March 1 to 15 of this year, according to the National Weather Service.

Along with spring skiing, backcountry skiing is a spring favorite.

“Springtime in the valley is when the backcountry really comes into condition,” Aspen Expeditions backcountry ski guide Sammy Podhurst said. “With a more stable snowpack, we are able to get up high, explore the alpine and ski some of the grander lines and notable peak ascents here in the Elk Mountains.”

In general, weather in the valley throughout April is “a little drier, but otherwise fairly similar” to March weather, National Weather Service meteorologist Julie Malingowski said.

This year, Malingowski expects April and May’s liquid precipitation count, which constitutes both rain and snowfall, to be slightly above average.

“I don’t see any anolomies at this point,” Malingowski said.

And for a highly anticipated, end-of-ski season, short-term forecast, Malingowski predicts there will be one more “snow producer” this month.

While the meteorologist was hesitant to predict a precipitation count, Malingowski expects this month’s final weather-maker to be “impactful,” potentially causing travel difficulties.