Town to Town Tour starts with bus ride
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Participants in the inaugural Town to Town Tour, a cross country ski/snowshoe event Saturday on the Rio Grande Trail, are being urged to ride the bus. Whether their skis will be riding inside the bus, though, is apparently a matter of some dispute.
David Hamilton, executive director of the Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV), organizer of the tour, suggests skiers stand firm and insist on carrying their gear inside the bus.
“We know from experience that the racks on the buses often don’t work for cross-country skis,” he said. “We don’t want people damaging their equipment.”
In fact, the RFOV website advises participants to take their cross-country skis on the bus.
But, Kent Blackmer, director of operations for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, said the transit agency’s policy is to require ski equipment to be stowed on the exterior ski racks affixed to buses unless it can’t be successfully secured there. Riders heading from Aspen out to the cross-country center at the golf course often use the exterior ski racks on RFTA buses without difficulty, he said.
Having skis inside the bus can be dangerous if the vehicle has to make a sudden stop, Blackmer said.
Participants coming from points downvalley for Saturday’s tour start in Aspen, however, might be reluctant to put lightweight nordic skis on the exterior rack of a bus that will travel upvalley at highway speeds. In addition, any moisture or magnesium chloride on the highway will wreak havoc with freshly waxed skis.
“Be strong,” was Hamilton’s advise to bus riders pressing to bring their skis onboard.
RFOV has arranged shuttles for event participants, in conjunction with regular RFTA service, to accommodate skiers. The tour starts at Stein Park on the outskirts of Aspen, where there will be no parking available.
“That’s the big rub,” Hamilton said.
Skiers coming from town can take the Cemetery Lane bus ” RFTA intends to run a full-size bus on the route to accommodate the anticipated extra riders ” and RFOV will run two shuttles back and forth between the Rio Grande parking garage and Stein Park beginning at 9 a.m.
Participants coming from downvalley can park at the Roaring Fork Club parking lot off Arbaney Road in Basalt and catch a shuttle down to Highway 82 to ride a RFTA fare bus upvalley, getting off at either Eighth Street or Rubey Park and then taking the Cemetery Lane bus to the starting point at Stein Park.
The tour is 14.8 miles from Aspen to Basalt ” 6.4 miles from Aspen to Woody Creek and 8.4 miles from Woody Creek to Basalt. There is parking available for those who start the tour in Woody Creek.
The tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a post-tour party at the Roaring Fork Club River Cabin from 3-5 p.m. A shuttle will take participants back to Highway 82 bus stops and the Roaring Fork Club parking lot across the highway after the party.
During the tour, free shuttles will circulate every 30 minutes, if not more frequently, at road intersections along the route.
“If they get out there and somebody poops out, there’s a way to bail out,” Hamilton said.
The Rio Grande Trail will be freshly groomed for the event ” with touch-up work completed late Friday or early Saturday, depending on snowfall. The Aspen-Snowmass Nordic Council has been grooming the trail for nordic skiing for several years; the event is intended to both put the nordic opportunities on the trail and the efforts of RFOV in the spotlight. RFOV organizes a host of volunteer trail projects in the greater Roaring Fork Valley each summer.
By Thursday morning, more than 70 participants had registered for the tour and Hamilton said he expected 150 to 220 registrants by Saturday’s start time.
Participants might get only a slight break from the frigid temperatures of this week; Saturday’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies with a 20 percent chance of snow and highs of 15 to 25 in Aspen. West winds of 10 to 20 mph will produce wind-chill readings of 8 to 18 below in the morning, though, according to the National Weather Service forecast for Aspen. Basalt’s forecast calls for a high of 29 degrees by 2 p.m. Saturday.
Fresh snow was forecast Thursday night with a chance for another inch or so on Friday, the weather service said.
Registration for the tour is $25 in advance and $30 on Saturday for individuals; there are also family rates. Participants can register on Saturday at Stein Park and in Woody Creek.
Skiers and snowshoers are invited to wear costumes ” prizes are promised in several categories. Go to http://www.rfov.org for more information.
Snowmass has picked up 2 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Friday morning report. Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk all got 1 inch.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for the Aspen zone on Friday, Jan. 18:
The avalanche danger is considerable on northeast, east, southeast and south aspects near and above treeline. Natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered ones probable. Triggered avalanches may be large and destructive. The avalanche danger on all other aspects near and above treeline and all slopes below treeline is moderate. Human-triggered avalanches are still possible, and they could be very large as well.
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There is a lot of pent up energy among hikers and bikers to get into the high country, but snow fields, avalanche debris and high stream crossings are presenting challenges later than usual. Forest rangers with the Aspen-Sopris District provide trail condition reports that are updated each week so hikers and backpackers aren’t caught unaware.