Last call for Indy pass |

Last call for Indy pass

Naomi Havlen

This is the time of year when there’s a soft tick-tocking in my ear indicating the time left before the gates at the base of Independence Pass swing shut.When those gates lock for seven long months, they take a whole swath of outdoor recreation opportunities with them. I pledged this spring to really work on my rock climbing skills, to zip right up there after work when the days were still long. It didn’t happen.Instead I went back to several favorite old haunts this summer for camping and hiking but still found plenty of things up the eastern section of Highway 82 I’d never seen before.Just this weekend I strolled up to Weller Lake for the first time – I had never bothered, possibly because it’s so well-marked and everyone said it wasn’t a big deal. The short hike was certainly not cardiovascular, but after living here all this time, finding out there was a lake of that size so close by, and surrounded by Aspen trees that will soon be turning gold, was surprising.This summer I also uncovered some chanterelle mushrooms for the first time while hiking up the pass – and like any good novice mushroomer, I won’t tell you where they were.There was another secretive location this summer I was led to by a group of friends – a picturesque alpine lake three miles away from a trailhead where the sign was turned backward, as if to keep the secret. “Funny how that can happen,” said one longtime Aspen resident with a smirk when I asked him about it, as if to indicate he had a hand in turning the sign around from prying eyes.So now is the time for us all to realize that there’s maybe a month and a half left, max, to drive up Independence Pass and recreate your heart out. It seems like only yesterday I was marveling at the people who hauled themselves up to the ghost town of Independence during the Ride for the Pass, and making plans to be a sinewy rock climber.There’s always next summer..

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