On the trail: 15 more minutes | AspenTimes.com

On the trail: 15 more minutes

CARBONDALE – My daughter and I experienced what I like to call the 15-minute syndrome on a hike last weekend.

Anyone who hikes or bikes much has probably experienced this syndrome. It occurs when you’re looking ahead to the next small rise on a desert bike ride or when you’re hiking in the mountains and you see a destination that piques your interest on the map. You tell yourself and your traveling partners, if any, “Let’s just go 15 minutes more and see if we reach that point.”

Four hiking companions and I, three human and one canine, set out from the Avalanche Creek Trailhead shortly before 9 a.m. last weekend to destination unknown. The first couple of miles of that hike are a real delight – next to the creek on relatively flat terrain. There are plenty of chances to cool off on a hot day.

There were some wildflowers despite the drought, but the vegetation was definitely stunted and, dare I say, doomed if we don’t get rain soon. We passed through a vast stretch that we labeled Land of the Ferns. The landscape for several yards in all directions was covered with fern-like plants that have remained green and lush.

The trail gets steeper but still very manageable as you approach Hell Roaring Creek and a junction with a gut-buster trail up said creek. I’ve gone the Hell Roaring route a couple of times. This time, we wanted to venture farther up Avalanche Creek, a first for me. The trail plunges down to Avalanche Creek from far above after crossing Hell Roaring Creek. When it flattens out, you hike along a stretch of Avalanche Creek that rivals any route for beauty.

The trail hugs a ridge to the north, with the creek at varying distances to the south. After more than a mile past Hell Roaring, the trail veered away from the ridge, and we were in a small, gently sloping clearing. Not far ahead, according to the map, was a place called Dooly Park. My partners agreed to venture farther, and for 15 minutes we hauled ass. Two of them called it quits, with one nursing a sore knee that she thought would impede her speed downhill.

My daughter Hannah and our dog Ginger plowed ahead with me. In 15 minutes, more or less, we arrived at our destination. It was worth it, though that really isn’t the point.

Keep imagining the next adventure is just 15 minutes ahead. It will keep you young, or at least entertained.


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