On the trail: In-between days

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart The Aspen TimesClouds swirl around the snow-capped peaks looming above Maroon Creek Road Sunday.

ASPEN – Of all the changing of the seasons, it’s fall to winter that I struggle with the most.

I’m not serious enough about road biking or fly-fishing to bundle up and keep plugging along until the weather makes either pursuit unthinkable. And yet it’s been too warm for a headlong rush into winter sports. There’s snow but not nearly enough.

A couple of friends of mine took a hike in the Hunter Creek Valley near Aspen on Saturday and reported some pretty gooey spots now that what little snow existed in the valley has melted, leaving mud behind.

On Sunday morning, a friend and I headed up Maroon Creek Road, hoping to drive to the lake and then take a short hike somewhere that still has snow cover. There wasn’t enough snow, we reasoned, for the road to be closed for the winter. It is, though.

The pile of snow that usually blocks the road at T-Lazy-Seven Ranch hasn’t stretched across the road, but not far beyond that spot, a locked gate prohibited access even though there was only a light covering of white on the pavement. At least a half-dozen vehicles were parked there, and ours joined them.

Our hike became a quiet though tricky walk up an icy road dusted with snow. Fortunately, we were outfitted for a hike and had traction devices in our packs that we decided would be better used on our boots.

There wasn’t enough snow for skiing up the road, but one intrepid soul rode a bike up it. We saw him coming down slowly on a crossbike – the tires weren’t skinny, but they weren’t fat, either. Given the ice, I thought he was nuts, and the bike tracks he left behind hinted at a few sketchy moments.

We got about halfway to the lake, stopped to watch the clouds swirl around the rocky crags up ahead and turned back. Invariably, we talked about wanting to ski up the road, remembered past winter excursions there and contemplated outings for the coming season.

Like the crazy bicyclist, we’re stuck with the in-between days for now.


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