On the Hill: Back to the future | AspenTimes.com

On the Hill: Back to the future

Tim Dudley

Ascending the Ute Trail on Monday was like traveling forward in time.And the top – well, not the top, but as far as was wise to go with nonwaterproof boots – offered a glimpse of what winter will be like.The hike started from West Main with late-fall weather: wet and foggy with falling and fallen leaves. But soon after the Ute began to rise from town, it changed seasons.Wet, sticky snow sloshed underfoot in patches. Squirrels shook flakes from the tops of trees.And past the rock outcropping with the postcard view of town, it changed to full-on winter. Everything was covered with a blanket of white, and boots sunk to above the ankles. The trail was not obvious but for another’s footsteps leading the way.The air was cool but not cold, the woods in Bingo Glades and Jackpot were quiet. Snowmobiles had left tracks at the bottom of the Gent’s Ridge lift. The snow was getting deeper.Copper Connector was untracked (OK, a few of Ajax’s animals had gotten the first runs), so legs kicked into motion. Light Salomon hiking boots don’t offer the floatation or speed of your favorite powder skis; but on a day like that, they’re all you really need.”Arcing” turns down Copper Bowl, I skidded to a halt as a pair of deer crossed the trail from Bell Mountain, enjoying the peace and quiet while they could.The boot skiing petered out around the confluence with Spar Gulch, and the mud took over. Back to fall. But not for long.