On the Trail: Spring unsprung | AspenTimes.com

On the Trail: Spring unsprung

Janet Urquhart

Smuggler is ready to ride. At least it was yesterday.I was only too happy to leave the office Wednesday morning for some crucial reconnaissance hiking on the Smuggler/Hunter Creek loop, not having ventured out that way since snowshoe season. Guess what? It’s still snowshoe season.Smuggler Mountain Road, however, was clear and relatively dry up to the platform and beyond, but for a bit of circumventable water on the final stretch. Of course, that could change with today’s weather.Almost immediately after turning onto the Hunter Creek cutoff road, however, I encountered snow in copious quantities with a few patches of bare ground. The foot-packed snow was crusty enough to walk on without post-holing in the morning, but mountain biking remains out of the question. And on a warm afternoon, you’d probably want snowshoes, or at least gaiters. I wished I’d brought my footwear traction devices (the brand name of which won’t be plugged here).I had intended to drop into the valley via that sweet single track that splits off from the cutoff road about halfway down, but that snow had not been recently broken. I post-holed over to peer down the trail – it was still blanketed with winter.The cutoff road was mostly snowy all the way to the valley floor, where I found a mixture of snow cover and a very soft trail. No riding there quite yet, either.Below the 10th Mountain Bridge, I followed the Hunter Creek Trail along the creek to the Lani White Trail and out to town. That section was almost entirely free of snow/ice and surprisingly dry. I was bracing for mud.So, my report from the field: Bike up Smuggler, but leave the bike at home if you’re headed into the valley.Of course, it’s supposed to snow today.

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