Spending a year in Aspen means you’re never going back … ever

Conundrum Hot Springs are a popular hiking destination near Aspen. It is a 8.5-mile hike from the trail ahead to the springs, which sit at 11,222 feet.
David Krause/The Aspen Times |

If you make it a year living in Aspen, you are in. You can make it a lifetime.

I’m not sure how true that is, but Tuesday marks one year since I walked in the doors as the new editor of The Aspen Times. After more than 20 years along the Front Range and in Denver, getting up here was the culmination of hard work and an incredible family.

Here are 10 things I have come to learn and appreciate in the past 365 days:

  • Doing Conundrum Hot Springs hike in one day seemed like a good idea at the time.
  • Food & Wine Classic is legit, even for a beer-drinking Neanderthal.
  • Don’t leave in the morning without Yaktrax in the backpack (or a vest, gloves and a stocking cap … even in July).
  • I love golf, but man the Trashmasters scoring novel can give you a headache, which is easily cured on the course with the variety of adult beverages.
  • You quickly learn the safest walk to work by the heated sidewalks. It can become a bit like Billy running around a “Family Circus” comic.
  • I’ve been to hundreds of high school football games, but the Aspen High setting at sunset … it is far better than being with 15,000 fans at a Texas high school game.
  • Twelve days. That was my longest stretch without driving a car. What I’m saving in automotive repairs I am investing in quality shoes and boots.
  • Watching the world’s best men and women fly down America’s Downhill always will be one of the most intense sporting events I’ve seen live (and I worked in sports journalism for 31 years).
  • Best way to burn a few hours with your flatlander friends: drive up Aspen Mountain in a topless Jeep, stop at the Sundeck, drive down Little Annie’s and hit Pine Creek Cookhouse. If they don’t like it, you don’t have to like them anymore.
  • Snowboarding, fly-fishing and biking in the same day. Yeah, that is a great March birthday.

I knew it was all good last month when a colleague and friend I’ve known since 1995 walked up to me at the X Games media tent.

“You’re never coming back to Denver, are you?” he said. “You honestly look 10 years younger and infinitely happier.”

I’m not sure how true that is, either, but yeah, I’m hooked.