On the trail: The Ute with Zac | AspenTimes.com

On the trail: The Ute with Zac

Janet UrquhartThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – I never tune into my iPod during outdoor pursuits, whether it’s hiking, skiing or whatever. The truth is, I’d rather hear the wind in the trees, the gurgling creek or the sound of my skis shushing through the snow than an accompaniment spawned in a recording studio.In the gym, though, the device is a godsend for helping pass the time on some piece of stationary aerobic equipment.But on Saturday morning, I decided a hike up Aspen Mountain was in order – sort of a pre-emptive strike against the inevitable effects of the Mac & Cheese Festival later in the day. And the tortuous ascent of the unforgiving Ute Trail, followed by the long trudge up the mountain beyond Ute Rock struck me as perfect territory for musical distraction.Plus, I figured music blaring in my ears would spare me from the inane chatter of strangers on what was sure to be a human highway on a weekend morning (oddly, it wasn’t) and drown out the rhythmic tapping of my hiking poles – a necessary evil now that my knees are officially old.I have to say, the music didn’t put wings on my feet. It took me 40 minutes to reach Ute Rock and just shy of two hours to reach the summit of the mountain. Back when I used to tackle this hike more often, with younger legs, I considered 90-plus minutes to the top a respectable performance.While I could feel my pain, and stopped on occasion to fill my lungs, I have to say, the Zac Brown Band was a welcome addition to the ordeal. The perky strains of “Knee Deep” put a spring in my step, if only briefly.I can’t imagine blocking out the sounds of nature on any true backcountry hike, but when the outing is really just a workout, I think the iPod is going to come along.Next: The Ramones on Buttermilk.janet@aspentimes.com

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