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Summer season opens with Independence Pass

Well, it’s official. Independence Pass, despite some minor hiccups, is open for the season.

So begins another summer in Aspen. And with the rivers high and the aspens turning green, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of eager anticipation.

Though it doesn’t exactly happen like clockwork, the opening of the pass is an annual occurrence. It’s never a surprise. Still, when the pass opens, Aspen turns from a box canyon into a stopover en route to the Continental Divide. A valve is opened, a certain tension is released, and locals feel a new sense of freedom.

Many Aspenites have already ridden the pass road this season, with either two wheels or four beneath them, and certainly they’ve felt the rush of excitement about the year’s first trip into that rugged and familiar high country. These days, the excitement is heightened by the roaring of melting snow as it fills the river ” roll down your windows and listen up!

Or, what the hell ” just stick your head out the window and howl.

The only damper on this year’s Memorial Day weekend may be that the skiing conditions have deteriorated. With all the warm weather of late, observers report that there are more slide paths and debris piles to be seen around the ghost town of Independence than there are lines of sweet, creamy corn snow.

Still, there’s ample reason to celebrate. This long weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer in Aspen, and the promise of long days on the river, beautiful music at the tent, cool Rocky Mountain evenings, backyard barbecues, camping in the backcountry, hikes to Crested Butte, peak bagging and all the other delights of the season.

And for just a few more weeks, Aspenites have the town mostly to themselves, without the throngs of the high season.

It’s a delightful time of year, folks. Get out and enjoy it.

And, while you’re at it, don’t forget that Memorial Day is more than just another three-day weekend. Remember to tip your hat and pay your respects to the men and women in the armed forces who have given their lives for our country.


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