On the Trail: Relishing the dog days of summer in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

On the Trail: Relishing the dog days of summer in Aspen

The end-of-summer countdown begins. As of this writing, there were less than 72 hours of summer left. I hope everyone is enjoying the last of the dog days of summer as much as I am.

Aspen in September is the nectar, my fellow offseason friends. There is nothing better than the first couple of weeks of this month — with Colorado bluebird skies set against the backdrop of the vibrant fall colors. The bonus, of course, is a lot more elbow room on the trails and an abundant availability of tee times.

It is my favorite time of year because of how glorious the weather is and the crowds are gone.

There was a Saturday morning back in August when I knew I was too late getting on one of my go-to hikes, either Hunter Creek or Smuggler.

It was 10 a.m. when I drove by the Hunter Creek trailhead and saw a line of families gearing up for their big day outing. I kept going and headed toward Smuggler.

I should have known to abort the plan when I couldn’t get a parking spot in the lower lot. But I needed a quick workout so finally squeezed in and started my ascent.

That was a big mistake. Besides the hordes of Texans, New Yorkers and Floridians, I was in the middle of a mountain bike race, so dozens of cyclists were crowding around me. I tried to share the trail but I had to get out of there.

I ran for the hills on the south side of town and found my oasis on the Ajax Trail and then onto Summer Road where I ran into a total of two people.

I don’t mind tourists and visitors, I just don’t want to hike with mass quantities of them, or be on the hole behind them at the golf course.

That’s why I cherish these quiet days when we get to take in the solitude we’ve been craving all summer.

It’s been a tradition of mine to take a day off in the middle of the week and enjoy one of my last perfect summer days. This year I decided to go off the beaten path, which for me is past the roundabout.

A friend and I went to hike the Rim Trail. I used to jam up the trail to the yin yang (Spiral Point) all the time when I worked at the Snowmass Sun.

At the time, the office was in the Snowmass Center and I would access the trail right outside the southwest side of the building.

So almost 20 years later, I thought I’d pick it up there again. Sure, the landscape has changed with the Town Hall building but I figured the natural environment had remained the same.

So I dragged my friend up there, followed a cat-track ribbon of dirt up the hill hoping the single-track would reveal itself. It finally did but it only led behind a housing complex before ending.

I felt as though I was in the twilight zone, swearing up and down that the damn trail behind the Snowmass Center led to the yin yang. “I used to do this all of the time!” I proclaimed to my doubting and somewhat annoyed hiking buddy.

We double-backed and went with her suggestion to actually start from the trailhead up Divide Road. It was then that I felt like the tourist.

If anyone from the 1900s can recall an access point to Rim Trail from behind the Snowmass Center, please let me know so I can prove my point and stop thinking the onset of dementia is here.

In the meantime, I’ll stay within my comfort zone, which doesn’t extend beyond the city golf course and a few valleys where the trailheads are marked and there are no people.

Get out there before summer passes us by. Happy trails!


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