On the River: Back to reality…sort of | AspenTimes.com

On the River: Back to reality…sort of

Charles Agar
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” It’s hard getting back to reality after 16 days kayak­ing the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Time stopped for those weeks spent floating through the cathedral canyon, dropping gnarly rapids, living simply with little more than the clothes on my back and sleeping under the stars.

And now back in the “real world,” I find channel- surfing is impossible, e- mail looks tiresome, and American consumer culture is as alluring as a “blue light special” at Kmart.

But the transition back is all the easier in a place where my apartment opens to high alpine splendor and my backyard is full of world-class mountain biking, hik­ing and skiing.

The mountains dusted with snow forecast another season of bliss in Aspen’s miles of lift-accessed terrain, and the cool autumn evenings waft with the smell of burning pinon pine and speak of a warm hearth some­where.

Longing for whitewater over the weekend, I visited my old friend the Colorado River near Glenwood Springs and made a few playful runs down the Shoshone section.

With the river at low flow, there were plenty of exposed rocks, steep drops and sticky waves to keep it interesting ” and because Shoshone is dam-controlled the stretch runs even when the snow flies.

On a recent afternoon, I rode my mountain bike up Smuggler Mountain and dropped into the Hunter Creek Valley, which looks in every season like a living cham­ber of commerce pamphlet.

And I have plans for whitewater runs down Westwa­ter Canyon and the Gunnison Gorge, as well as a hike to Crested Butte.

Forget reality: I’ll take Aspen.