On the trail: East Snowmass Creek | AspenTimes.com

On the trail: East Snowmass Creek

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesThe unexpected waterfall on East Snowmass Creek.

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – “Is that what a bear sounds like?”

I have no idea what a bear sounds like, but the low moan coming through the thick stand of trees on the East Snowmass Creek Trail sounded more like the bellow of a cow to me, and I said so. We stood there listening and debating the source of the noise, which turned out to be the wind playing tricks in the trees. A large dead aspen, leaning against another tree, was apparently producing the noise as Sunday’s gusty winds rubbed two tree trunks together.

I hadn’t been up East Snowmass Creek, outside of Snowmass Village, in more than a decade and I remembered little about it, particularly the dense, sort of spooky woods and the taxing uphill climb for close to the first 90 minutes of the hike. As it turned out, that was all we were going to see of the valley on this particular day.

We agreed we were well protected from what sounded, off and on, like ferocious winds somewhere in the distance. Above us, the treetops occasionally rattled, and what few leaves remained in the trees lost their grip, but we were mostly oblivious to the wind’s effects.

When we finally burst through the trees for our first real stretch of open valley, the wintery wind hit us with biting intensity and dense clouds were settling over the peaks in the upper valley. It was either time to add another layer of clothing and dig out the gloves and hats, or turn around. We did what any couple of determined hikers would do – an about-face.

It was odd. Back in the woods, it didn’t feel all that uncomfortable, but a couple of thousand feet above us, we could hear the wind roaring off a cliff face like a jet airplane.

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The sound all but obliterated the high point of the hike. On our return, we ventured off trail on a whim to check out what appeared to be a nearby overlook. The creek, I assumed, was somewhere below, out of sight of the trail. The spot actually offered a great vantage point from which to view an unexpectedly impressive waterfall. The feature was no doubt creating its own roar, but we never heard it over the wind.

Who knows what else we didn’t hear. Probably a bear.

janet@aspentimes.com