On the Trail: Nordic chopped liver
December 30, 2008
BASALT ” Going on two days after the snow finally quit dumping in the midvalley, I hauled my overly optimistic self over to Basalt High School at midmorning on Sunday, hoping against hope I’d be treated to timely grooming of the Rio Grande Trail. It was not to be.
Sometimes, I feel like the midvalley is chopped liver. The trail hadn’t been touched, though other intrepid skiers had done their best to establish two relatively parallel ski tracks on the Swiss cheese surface. Someone, who has my utmost respect, even tried to skate ski on the cratered snow.
I could have driven up to Aspen, or down to Spring Gulch outside of Carbondale, but I wasn’t anxious to spend more time than necessary on the valley’s new winter amenity ” the skating rink that is Highway 82. The Rio Grande at Basalt was by far the closest option. I knew all of the other Aspen-Snowmass trails had been meticulously groomed, as always, because I called the grooming hotline (429-2039, extension 4) to check. The recorded voice informed me everything had been groomed within the past 48 hours, including the Rio Grande Trail from Aspen to Woody Creek. Crews planned to hit the Woody Creek-to-Old Snowmass stretch on Sunday, the hotline said.
There was no mention whatsoever of the section between Old Snowmass and Basalt in Sunday’s recording. I realize that segment is invariably the last to get grooming attention, even though it gets tons of pedestrian use and is always quickly trashed, but couldn’t they make note of its status on the recorded message? Tell us it’s not groomed yet, but it will be by late Sunday, or whenever.
(In all fairness, I called Monday morning and the hotline indicated the trail had been groomed to Basalt. Too late for me ” I was at work on Monday.)
I set out Sunday anyway, skiing upvalley for the first fresh air and exercise I’d enjoyed without a snow shovel in my hand in at least a week.
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The snow was cold and crisp despite the welcome sunshine ” a perfect blue wax day ” and I did my best to kick and glide gracefully on the rough trail, pocked with all manner of paw and boot prints.
It was a great day to be out, and there’s something about the rhythm of classic-style cross-country skiing that I find relaxing even as I work up a sweat.
Would freshly groomed track have made any difference? Sure. The skiing would have been sublime, as opposed to pleasant.
It’s the difference between chopped liver and pate.