On the Trail: Follow the Government leader | AspenTimes.com

On the Trail: Follow the Government leader

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” I’m not sure why I would automatically assume that a pair of ski tracks in the snow, set by some unknown party who went before, would actually lead me where I want to go. Still, a companion and I followed them blindly into the woods on Sunday, mostly because they were there and they headed in generally the right direction.

About 40 minutes into our ski tour, we generally concurred we were definitely not on the Government Trail between West Buttermilk and Snowmass. This wasn’t a particularly big deal. Where ever it was we were was pleasant. Blue skies, aspen groves and powdery snow made for all we were really looking for anyway ” a few hours of backcountry touring on decidedly ungnarly terrain.

Hopefully, the strangers from Boulder who set out shortly after us were seeking much the same thing. We followed the anonymous tracks in the snow, and they followed us, assuming a couple of locals would know where they were going.

When the tracks turned left across a meadow, we decided to go right, following what appeared to be a trail or road until we wound up on what was likely private property, given the presence of a distant house. We decided to backtrack, meeting up with the couple following us in the process and admitting we were clueless as to the location of the actual trail.

We huddled. The four of us decided the tracks stretching across the sparkling meadow might link up to the Government Trail, tucked into the trees on the hillside beyond the open expanse. Why any of us would think that was the case is beyond me, given how far off course we’d already been led.

I was duly surprised when we connected with the Government Trail, marked with the telltale blue diamonds of a ski route, on the far side of the meadow. The Boulder couple took the lead. They were probably tired of following a couple of local dimwits.

They eventually turned around, retracing the same circuitous route out. This I know because we enjoyed untracked powder shots down the last pitch of the true trail on our return. Local’s secret.


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