December 30, 2005
When the throngs clog Aspen’s downhill runs between Christmas and the new year, click in to your skinny skis and hit the track.While lift lines fattened at the four ski hills Saturday, the nordic trails – specifically Owl Creek Trail – offered a feast of solitude. Not that you’re totally alone. There are a few other sliders and ‘shoers on the groomed trails, and there are signs of other visitors.Weasels laid their dumbell-shaped tracks zig-zagging alongside the trail. A pine marten left its mark near Owl Creek. And before the trail had been groomed, elk had crossed it to bed in a grove of aspens. Mother Nature is evident on all sides of the trail.There’s excitement on the trail, too. The route from West Buttermilk Road starts off with a rush as it drops down a hill and past a herd of trophy homes that are beautiful but somehow sad to look at. Then it rises up a slight incline in the fields along Owl Creek Road before The Flying Kilometer, which descends into Snowmass Village. Or instead of The Flying Kilometer, skiers can climb the Terminator, which loops up and crosses Snowmass ski area to get to the village.In several hours, only nine other skiers and four snowshoers passed by On the Trail. How many were on the lift-served slopes? Probably thousands.When the holiday craze sets in and it seem like life’s all a rush, don’t kick and scream, kick and glide. The shhhhhhh, shhhhhhh rhythm of skis on snow is therapeutic. So are the views.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley at and above treeline is moderate with considerable danger on the lee and cross-loaded slopes. Below treeline, the danger is moderate.It is a good time to gather lots of snowpack information and know exactly what lies underneath before committing to a slope steeper than 30 degrees. Are you dealing with new-snow avalanches only or could that avalanche be triggered on a deeper layer?Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, call 920-1664 or visit http://www.rfavalanche.org. For conditions around the state, visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.