On the town: Marble is a gem | AspenTimes.com

On the town: Marble is a gem

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

MARBLE – The hour-long drive from Aspen to Marble is predictably rewarded with two things: beauty and quiet. But a visit to the tiny hamlet (population 131) this past weekend was oddly out of whack: extra long on scenic gorgeousness but bustling in a way I’d never imagined.

My daughter, Olivia, came out of nowhere with the desire to go camping Saturday night. Having been recently chastised for failing to teach her even minimal volleyball skills, I thought it best not to give her further ammunition by letting an entire summer pass without a single camping trip. As it happens, I’d been talking to my old friends Karen and Larry, who own the wonderful Beaver Lake Lodge, about a visit. So we had our camping destination – and a warning that Sunday was the Lead King Loop, a foot race that draws Marble’s biggest crowd each year.

We weren’t halfway to Marble when I noticed that the backseat of my car looked like we had just finished a cross-country journey: food, wrappers, a bike wedged in back, enough clothing scattered about to start a secondhand store. (I’m not sure whether this mess speaks of being a good camper or not – maybe just a messy one.) As we drove up the spectacular Crystal Valley, we had our usual argument: Was Penny Hot Springs before or beyond Redstone? (It’s before, by a few miles. Just ask Olivia.) Soaked in the springs, we had another typical experience – completely losing track of time, as our 45-minute bath stretched to nearly an hour and a half.

In Marble, our friends guided us to a spot above Beaver Lake. We set up camp, went back to the lodge to catch up with Karen and Larry and the exploits of their boys, Ralph and Orangie, and then snuggled into the tent. We woke to utter magnificence: the ring of mountains reflecting on the lake down below, a few bright stars – the Summer Triangle, as Olivia explained – and trees exploding in color.

In town, Marble was also exploding. Runners assembled in the frosty morn, and food started showing up from all directions – tables, benches, starting lines. By race time, I had seen more people by far than I had seen in the entire eight months I lived in Marble in 1995.

Instead of quiet, we saw community in action. The Lead King Loop is a fundraiser for the Marble Charter School, and the town turned out in full force. Slow Groovin’ BBQ served up mounds of pulled pork and brisket (they even let me take my preferred place behind the counter); the raffle went on forever, with endless prizes having been donated.

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When Olivia had had enough of the hustle and bustle of the big city, we walked down the dirt road, pushed out in a canoe and rowed across Beaver Lake, basking in both beauty and quiet.

Those planning a Marble trip for the weekend of Oct. 6 and 7, be warned: It’s the next big social event on the Marble calendar, Fall Fest. Expect live music, not silence.

stewart@aspentimes.com

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