In the saddle: Aromatherapy in the backcountry | AspenTimes.com

In the saddle: Aromatherapy in the backcountry

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – I never put any stock in aromatherapy until Sunday.

The sights and smells of the wildflowers on the Government Trail blew my mind. I rounded one corner on the vast stretch between Snowmass Village and Buttermilk, burst into a sun-drenched meadow and entered The Land of the Giant Columbines. They were my favorite ones – light blue or maybe lavender and white. Tons of them, on both sides of the trail.

There were loads of other flowers, too. Sorry, but I’m not good at names. The kaleidoscope of colors would have done Willy Wonka proud. Purples, deep blues, reds and yellows.

But it was the smell that was really far out. I don’t like strong perfume or cologne. It makes me nauseous. This was different. Mother Nature does it right. This stretch of trail was as good as it gets in the Denver Botanical Garden. It was intoxicatingly sweet – enough to make you want to breathe deep and for a long time. I met a group of hikers right at the most pungent part of the ride. They started to make way for me on my bike, but I insisted they come ahead. I welcomed a reason to linger longer.

Speaking of breathing deep: parts of the ride Sunday threatened to rip my lungs out. I dare say I found the perfect use for the new Droste Trail. I parked at Buttermilk, climbed Radar Road and crossed the Droste property (it was more enjoyable the second time around). I hooked into the Highline Trail on the outskirts of Snowmass Village, crossed Owl Creek Road and jumped on the Tom Blake Trail – one of my favorites routes, named after one of my favorite acquaintances. On a whim, I suffered through the climb up Sequel to Government Trail, then circled back to Buttermilk. The wildflowers on West Buttermilk nearly matched those earlier on the trail.

I don’t know if aromatherapy wards off infections, but it sure cleared my mind.

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scondon@aspentimes.com