Off Piste: Smooth sailing at Ruedi
BASALT ” Believe it or not, the midpoint of the lift-served ski season slipped by on Groundhog Day. Fortunately, skiers and large rodents saw their shadow, promising six more weeks of winter.
I celebrated the first weekend of the second half of ski season with a new experience. I accompanied four friends on an ice fishing journey to Ruedi Reservoir. I watched them drill their holes, set their poles, then wait for strikes. It was all very fascinating, quite relaxing on a balmy Saturday morning. My dog and I wanted to make the most of the experience so we also cross-country skied across the ice. Actually, I skied, she ran.
Being a dog from the Deep South, she loves wide open spaces. On hikes and other outings in the woods she seems convinced that something is lurking on a quest to ambush her. Out on the ice, with the unobstructed views, she let her guard down.
We were in the Freeman Mesa area roughly half way length-wise on the reservoir. There was suspicious-looking ice toward the dam, directly in front of the Aspen Yacht Club, so we headed east to where the Upper Fryingpan River enters Ruedi.
The skiing was incredible. No tracks to follow, just the vast expanse of ice covered with enough snow to provide some traction. My skis were fast. The surface was smooth. The scenery toward the Continental Divide was superb. We took a couple of spins, the longest about 30 minutes, and encountered just a few scattered fishing parties. The isolation was glorious.
The ice measured 8 to 12 inches thick where my friends drilled, so I had peace of mind that we wouldn’t fall through. I still paralleled snowmobile tracks while skiing, just to feel safe.
I wouldn’t ski Ruedi every day, but I’ll be back again this season for the uniqueness of the experience, assuming the ice holds.
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The city of Aspen and Pitkin County are partnering to buy a 274-acre tract of land off McLain Flats for $10 million on property owned by longtime residents Carolyn and Tom Moore.