On the trail: A (weird) winter’s walk | AspenTimes.com

On the trail: A (weird) winter’s walk

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – If the lack of snow is good for anything, it’s doing what’s usually not possible in the wintertime.

So it was that my household drove up the Fryingpan Valley east of Basalt on Monday, headed for closed Chapman Campground. The goal wasn’t to camp but to walk the dog someplace that offered new scenery for all involved.

A couple of winters ago, we went to Chapman with our touring skis, only to find so much snow piled at the entrance that there was no place to park and get in. Not this time. We drove down the entrance road without difficulty, turned around and drove partway back up, parking above the open gate just in case somebody was going to come along and lock it.

The dog, largely denied her favorite winter pursuit this season – rolling in the snow – was ecstatic. The few inches of sugary snow on the road proved irresistible. She frolicked like a dog half her age, paying for it later when the activity caught up with her arthritic joints. A small price to pay, she appears to think.

The campground was utterly serene as we walked around a couple of the campsite loops in quiet sunshine. At least one campsite was clear enough to set up camp in, and the dry snow was never a chore to walk through, even in wind-loaded areas. The only tricky terrain was the result of an inexplicable flood that left thick ice flowing across the landscape and a stretch of the road. It was as though the rushing water froze on the spot and a wave of ice poured off an embankment, creating a skating rink beneath our tentative feet.

I’d contemplated a hike near Aspen on Monday – someplace that would usually be locked up by snow come January – but after a double-the-pain workout at the gym involving spin class followed by “boot camp,” the stroll under blue skies at Chapman was just the ticket.

The dog wholeheartedly agreed.


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