In the tent: Hot fire, cold beer soothe the soul |

In the tent: Hot fire, cold beer soothe the soul


ASPEN – I got my first small taste of winter Saturday night, and I must say, it came way too soon.

I always try to camp after Labor Day Weekend up Lincoln Creek, upvalley from Grizzly Reservoir near Aspen. I’m partial to the place. I think it’s some of the prettiest backcountry in the area.

I mountain biked up there on a sunny but cool afternoon in 1991 and had the Ruby ghost town area to myself. I nearly burst into tears because my wife and I were considering moving to Fort Collins. I figured I’ve never see Ruby again. Fortunately, the late, great Michael Cooper convinced us to “just take a look” at what was available for homes downvalley. We bought and stayed, so I get to keep visiting Ruby.

My daughter and a family friend canceled on me Saturday, so I packed up the dog, a bunch of firewood and an ample supply of beer for a solo trip. I found a great, temporarily sunny spot about a mile past Grizzly Reservoir. After establishing camp and taking a short hike, it started to rain in early evening. Truth be known, I was feeling a little sorry for myself: I drafted a lousy fantasy football team the prior week; I was alone; it was raining.

But the shower soon stopped and I built a roaring fire that warmed my bones and lifted my spirits. (The beer helped, too.) The clouds were clearing when I went to bed at 10:30 p.m. It turned out to be a two-dog night, but I only had one: Ginger curled in a ball at my side to share what warmth we mustered.

The rain on the tent turned to frost that peeled off into super-thin sheets when I threw back the rain flap the next morning. I’m not sure how cold it got, but when I fired up the car to drive closer to a trailhead at 8:30 a.m., it was 37 degrees.

Ginger and I scampered up to Anderson and Petroleum lakes, then decided to head north for a bushwhack back to the valley floor. After a steep but uneventful descent, we hit paydirt: ruins of two old cabins I had never seen before. Don’t know the history of these particular places, yet, but outside one of them was a cool old metal bed frame. I took pictures. You never know when you’ll get to return.

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