On the Trail: Winter to spring | AspenTimes.com

On the Trail: Winter to spring

ASPEN Now that the weather is cooperating for outdoor activities, I have been champing at the bit to get in some cardio in the sunshine. There are only so many miles you can run on a treadmill, and only so many steps you can take on the stair machine before you are ready to throw in the towel and cancel the gym membership. Cabin fever forced me out there – whether Mother Nature was ready or not.I prefer to get my exercise outside, which is why I spent most mornings this winter hiking up Buttermilk with my sled strapped to my waist. There was nothing more invigorating than 50 minutes of cardio followed by a screaming ride down corduroy before 9 a.m.But so far this spring, the mud and snow has prevented me from hiking my favorite trails. I’ve been relegated to the same old routine: Smuggler, Independence Pass and running the Rio Grande. Smuggler is holding up fairly well, except for the wafts of dog crap I get every few feet. To make it more challenging, I’ve been hiking all the way to the top – or least until the mud and snow force me to turn back – which my cardio-challenged dog certainly appreciates. This is my first spring back in the valley after living in California for the past five years. As I was sitting on the picnic table high above the observation deck on Smuggler the other day, I looked out and realized just how much I missed the seasons while I was gone. The snowcapped mountains set against a vibrantly green valley floor was so beautiful it was hard hike back down and go to work. Spring fever has definitely set in. Except spring also means mud – and lots of it.Feeling a bit adventurous, I decided to detour from my early spring routine and run the Smuggler loop. About a quarter-mile in from the observation deck on Smuggler, I ran into snow. The white stuff blanketed the flat terrain that connects Smuggler to Hunter Creek. Luckily, a bicyclist had attempted to ride the trail earlier in the day, so I was able to follow the tire tracks.It was pleasantly serene on the loop that day. It was a winter wonderland on the midsection of the hike, even though I was wearing shorts and tennis shoes. I didn’t see another human being for about 30 minutes, leaving me alone with my thoughts. I even turned my iPod off so I could listen to the sweet sounds of spring.

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