Nordic council seeking input
ASPEN The cross-country ski season is still months away, but the Aspen/Snowmass Nordic Council hopes it’s on the minds of area residents now. If it’s not, it should be.The council will host a series of meetings, starting next week, to pick the minds of nordic skiing enthusiasts as it begins drafting a Nordic Trails Master Plan. The goal, said Aspen trails coordinator Austin Weiss, is laying the groundwork for preserving and expanding the nordic system in the Roaring Fork Valley.Design Workshop will conduct the meetings with the hope of identifying additional areas and terrain that hold nordic potential, needs on the existing trails and solutions where the groomed tracks cross roads and driveways.The meetings will take place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, in the Snowmass Conference Center in Snowmass Village; at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s Aspen clubhouse; and at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, at Basalt Town Hall.”We’re looking for input on where people thing the program should go down the road,” Weiss said.The council grooms and maintains 60-plus kilometers of groomed trails in Aspen and Snowmass Village, and connecting the two resorts, plus additional terrain in unincorporated Pitkin County. The expansion of nordic grooming efforts on the Rio Grande Trail in Basalt has piqued interest in additional midvalley skiing opportunities, according to Weiss.”We are getting more and more requests about ‘What are you going to do next year?'” he said.The stretch of the Rio Grande Trail between Emma and Hooks Bridge, for example, has not been groomed in the past. To expand existing trail maintenance, though, more personnel and equipment will be necessary, so the council wants to gauge the public’s interest before planning such expenditures, Weiss said.There may be potential for setting track on private ranchlands that are conserved as open space, as well. For example, Steve and Molly Child hosted an event on their Capitol Creek ranch last winter that attracted the largest gathering of nordic skiers in the valley outside of the annual Owl Creek Chase race, Weiss said.”It’s tremendous terrain up there – probably as good as it gets,” he said.