Snow to the rescue at Carbondale’s Spring Gulch cross-country ski area
December 20, 2016
The slopes of the upper valley ski areas weren't the only ones to score from the big storm just in the nick of time for the holidays.
Spring Gulch — the cross-country ski area that touts itself as "Community-powered Nordic skiing in Carbondale" — was awash in rain Friday and lower trails were so thin that grooming wasn't possible. The writer of the grooming report had a sense of humor: Beware of early-season conditions, including frozen cow pies, skiers were warned.
Six inches of snow overnight Friday solved the problem.
I had to honor some obligations Saturday, so I was probably the only Roaring Fork Valley skier who didn't hit the alpine slopes. But I was able to slip up to Spring Gulch in the afternoon and was pleasantly surprised by the conditions. The skating trail had been freshly rolled. It was cold enough that the surface wasn't exactly butter, but it was soft and fast. And the cow pies were blanketed beneath the snow. There was good coverage even at the base.
It was a pleasure skiing south on Finlandia and soaking in the cloud-shrouded Mount Sopris. It was even better stopping among the large, scarred trunks of grand aspen trees at the intersection of Finlandia and Northstar. The only sounds were songbirds whistling tunes and the breeze rattling dried leaves clinging to the oaks.
I didn't experience the thrills of skiing 19 inches of powder on Aspen Mountain. Then again, I only saw about five people during two hours on the snow.
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Spring Gulch has a great new website this year at http://www.springgulch.org. As always, the free service depends on donations to make it work, so keep them in mind this year.
Speaking of Aspen Mountain, some loyalists are curious why Lift 1A hasn't opened yet for the season. Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said snowmaking is still underway on the west side of the hill. Snowmaking equipment was pulled over to the east side to accelerate the opening since there were no World Cup races in November on the Ruthie's and Lift 1A side.
"The warm weather pushed everything back a bit but expect 1A (to open) later this week," Hanle said.