Through the lens: 2021 in the Roaring Fork Valley in photos |

Through the lens: 2021 in the Roaring Fork Valley in photos

Aspen Times staff photographer Kelsey Brunner’s images from another historic year in the Roaring Fork Valley.

A friend told me about a meme that she recently saw that said, “2022 or 2020, too?“ We both laughed, but I think we were both also wondering if we were about to go into our third installment of 2020.

Recently, our lovely county was recognized for having the most COVID-19 cases per capita in the U.S. … fame always comes at a price, I’ve heard. And the irony is that I’m looking over my past year in photos and writing this while I sit at home in isolation for the second time in less than a year with a case of COVID.

With all of the negatives, and sure there are many, the positives have always reigned supreme for me.

This year we celebrated being alive and finding time to gather together again. Many people left their day jobs in pursuit of their true passion and others welcomed life into this world after more time quarantined with their loved ones. There is joy that comes from slowing down. I found my friendships deepened and I took more time to enjoy my life, finding gratitude. As we begin a new year, many people are setting intentions for the next chapter of their lives. For me, I always set the same intention: to be kinder today than I was yesterday. I hope for the sake of the world that we can all find more kindness within ourselves, more compassion for others, and more time to slow down and listen to one another.

2021 really was an extension of what we had been living through since spring 2020. No matter how much we hope that one strike of midnight will change the world, we all turn back into pumpkins every time. This year, the universe took Betty White on the final day of the year and wildfires raged on in Boulder County in the dead of winter, so here’s to hoping that we can only go up from here.

But now for the part you’ve all been waiting for: the photographs. My images have always felt like an extension of me; there is something vulnerable about putting a photograph on the front page of the paper every day for others to see, sometimes judge, and enjoy. This past year often felt like Groundhog Day, because the world was slow and I captured an image of that same tree the day before. However, it was more times than not filled with wonder and curiosity.

I met one of the most inspiring people in my life and got to witness him summit Mt. Elbert with one leg and a whole lot of drive. I had the opportunity to explore in the Sand Wash Basin and document the wild horses, which was a long time dream of mine (photos to come in the new year.) And the unique privilege to spend 110 days on our mountains skiing and photographing last season to reach a personal milestone for the most days skied in my life. Although working for a daily newspaper can often feel like “feeding the beast” just to get an edition out, it has always been and always will be a true honor to be a part of this community and to tell your stories.

Assaf Dory leads the Mt. Elbert Challenge team, setting the pace to reach the summit in 6.5 hours of climbing on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Austrian snowboarder Anna Gasser competes in the women’s snowboard big air finals during the 2021 X Games at Buttermilk on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Viewers watch the 46th annual Snowmass Balloon Festival from the cart path of the Snowmass Club on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
A helicopter brings a pregnant elk into the landing zone for testing on Owl Creek Ranch in Snowmass on Friday, March 5, 2021. Colorado Parks and Wildlife are planning to capture approximately 40 pregnant cows and put vaginal implants and collars on the elk to monitor the herd population and recruitment. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Poppys blow in the wind in the Marolt Open Space in Aspen on Friday, June 25, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Ski Patroller Jacob Rockwell throws his glove for his eleven-week-old puppy, Ruthie, at the top of Aspen Mountain on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. Ruthie is in training to become the next Aspen Mountain search and rescue dog alongside Zaugg. Rockwell is finishing his third season as a ski patroller on the mountain and will be a fishing guide in Alaska for the summer. The two will be back working on Aspen Mountain next season. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Bikers hit a small jump on Viking during the opening day of the Snowmass Bike Park and Elk Camp Gondola on Monday, June 21, 2021. The bike park offers 25 miles of downhill trails with varying degrees of difficulty. To access the bike park trails, visitors can ride both the Elk Camp Gondola and Elk Camp Chair to different sections on the mountain. The Snowmass Bike Park will be open all week through September 6th and then the following four weekends. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Snowmass locals Joshua Sukoff, 17, left, and Emma Goldblatt, 17, watch the grand entry of the first night of the Snowmass Rodeo on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The rodeo is back this summer after it was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. The rodeo is every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. through August 18th with team roping, barrel racing, bull riding, and children’s events. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
A horse gallops through a pasture as a helicopter refills with water for the fire burning above the property near Lower River Road in Old Snowmass on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Snowmaking started on Aspen Highlands the evening before leaving spots of snow gathered on the wet ground and aspen trees on Thunderbowl on Wednesday, October 13, 2021. Aspen Mountain and Snowmass are slated to open on November 25 this year followed by Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk on December 11. (Kelsey Brunner)
An uphiller on Buttermilk Ski Area on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
An autumn-inspired painted Volkswagen Beetle drives to Snowmass Village on Owl Creek Road on Monday, October 4, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
A Waning Gibbous moon hangs in the morning sky over the golden leaves on Independence Pass outside of Aspen on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Competitors bike near the second mile of the annual 2021 Ride for the Pass event hosted by the Independence Pass Foundation on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Due to COVID-19, the event was unable to happen as normal in 2020. There are two finish lines in the Ride for the Pass event, one at the Weller Lake turnout two miles from the starting line and the second at the Independence ghost town 10 miles from the starting line. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
A fox follows a wedding party around Maroon Creek Lake in Aspen on Friday, May 14, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Snow caps the top of Mt. Sopris after a storm blew in the night before in Carbondale on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
A lone tree stands above the others with a variety of autumn colors on a stormy day in Aspen on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Laura Thum peeks around the edge of the inflating Tequila Sunrise balloon to watch as children play on the other side in the early morning on the first day of the 46th annual Snowmass Balloon Festival on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Snow fills in the mowed divots after a fresh snowfall at Tiehack on Buttermilk ski resort in Aspen on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner)
Larkin Poe’s lead singer and electric guitarist Rebecca Lovell jams out at the Saturday night JAS Labor Day Experience concerts in Snowmass Village on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
American snowboarder Toby Miller airs out of the superpipe during the second evening of practice for the 2021 X Games Aspen at Buttermilk on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Ian Doherty smiles through the icy buildup on his beard while waiting for the rope to drop on runs on Bell Mountain on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Bride Olivia Burns and groom Kyle Lehman take the Silver Queen Gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain to celebrate their wedding on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The two are from Denver and have been together four years. They got engaged in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the entire wedding party planned to ski to the bottom in their wedding attire. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Aspen High School’s head athletic trainer Celty Fitterer shares a moment with her daughter Shaela Seddon, 4, on the side lines of the football game against Basalt High School on Friday, April 16, 2021. Shaela turns four years old on April 30th. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
A skier and his dog take a few laps on Aspen Mountain on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kirby McBride, center right, kisses her husband Brent McBride on the forehead as Tyler Desiderio, left, prepares his fishing pole while his wife Melanie Desiderio ice fishes at Ruedi Reservoir on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol sets off a charge for avalanche mitigation before opening the Highland Bowl at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Snow is forecasted for Aspen Snowmass mountains through the next week showing 2-10 inches of snowfall each day. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
People and their pets play in the snow at Wagner Park in Aspen on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Aspen got approximately two inches in town and on the mountain from a snowstorm starting in the late morning. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Snowboarders Chase Josey, left, Maddie Mastro and Ruki Tomita practice in the superpipe as the sun sets over the venue at Buttermilk during the 2021 X Games in Aspen on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Snow covering the Aspen High School football stadium is removed from before the big game against Basalt High School the morning after a spring snow storm in Aspen on Friday, April 16, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
A skier makes their way down the top of Aspen Mountain on a groom run in the early morning on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
The Tiger Squadron flies over a crowd gathered for the 20th annual Day of Remembrance for 9/11 on East Hopkins in Aspen on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Sebastian Cisneros, 17, skateboards through the large bowl at the Aspen Skate Park next to the Rio Grande Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. Cisneros is a junior at Aspen High School and has been taking online classes. He explained that he combined his lunch break and free period to have time to skateboard during the school day. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Houston Texans professional pass-catchers Nico Collins, left, Brandin Cooks, and Jordan Veasy play catch in the streets of downtown Aspen on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. The three are visiting Aspen during their bye week before the start of the season (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Children wade across the Roaring Fork River at the South Gate Take-Out at the Northstar Nature Preserve in Aspen on Monday, July 19, 2021. From the Wildwood launch site to the South Gate Take-Out, the river is on a voluntary closure due to low water levels. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
A Mountain Rescue Aspen member, who declined to provide his name, vaccinates Lisa Kilby with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine alongside Jackie Lapid, right, and dog Freya in their car at the vaccine tent in Aspen on Friday, April 9, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
A couple enjoys a drink in the Sundeck on Aspen Mountain with views of Highland Bowl as snow begins to flurry on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Wildfire smoke clouds the sky as a hot air balloon rises into the air around sunrise over the Roaring Fork Valley seen from Aspen on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)


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