On the Hill: The hitchhiker’s guide to the pass
As a kid, it was never unusual for my dad to screech the family truckster wagon to a halt as we bounced and swerved through backwoods Maine.My brother and I would instinctively crunch our sister into one corner of the backseat (after a protracted and protested indoctrination), and in would hop, at dad’s cheerful urging, any number of hikers, canoers and/or bikers and their gear. Granted, some sketchy characters thumbed along with us over the years, but we always stopped.One might assume the same code applies on local backroads today, such as Independence Pass. (Newsflash: June turns currently being served at 12,000-plus feet.)Let’s consult the field notes:A few years back, a friend and I hiked the Lost Man Loop from top to bottom. I convinced her that hitching a ride back up to the car at the upper trailhead would be “easy.” Then, waiting roadside, caravan after caravan passed us up. I gave up. I left my blond friend on the shoulder and ducked into the woods to hide. A minute later, we had our ride. (I might have had to storm out of the woods like a sasquatch to reserve my seat, but we got the ride.)In the last week, it’s been a similarly mixed bag. A couple of local ladies headed to Santa Fe last Friday stopped for me and a buddy after a brief wait last Friday. And they were gracious enough to make room for our ski gear. A few folks passed us by (what’s up, dude in the shiny new Lincoln pickup?), but we were on our way. After another run, we scored an easy ride back up (thanks, Kevin) in the bed of a pickup.On Wednesday, we hitched another ride pronto. But yesterday wasn’t so easy – a 40 minute wait.After several failed bids on my part, my partner of the day suggested I take off my sunglasses – the glasses coupled with the hat, all-black attire and unshaven mug perhaps weren’t helping our situation.With no blondes to throw at the problem, I shrugged off the thumbing duties to him. He tucked his mullet into his hat, stalked farther down the roadway and went to work. And he didn’t need any thumb at all, as it turned out. A local with like-minded sensibilities stopped for us.
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Under bluebird skies with 160 acres under their boots, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders took to Aspen Mountain for opening day Wednesday.