Aspen Princess: Clawing my way to the top

Ali Margo
Aspen Princess

Every morning, I’ve been getting up early and hiking Arbaney Kittle with the babes.

This is totally the Smuggler of the midvalley, and it’s quite the scene. It’s more like two Utes because it’s so steep for so long it makes you want to scream, stomp your feet and throw a tantrum, especially at the top section, which is kind of evil. Did I mention it’s only 2 miles one way?

Still, there are these strange, exotic creatures who run up the thing. I have no idea how that is even possible considering this trail is so steep in some places that there is the temptation to scale up it using your arms and legs. The runner-uppers are a totally different species, all spindly legs, narrow hips and thighs that don’t even come close to touching. They’re like gazelles that gracefully fly by as I waddle up with short legs, a round body and little wings, like a penguin. I’m betting these skinny-but-strong people probably ran here from Aspen on the trail through Lenado. What, it’s only 25 miles one-way, so that would make all kinds of sense.

Then there are all the ladies, the country clubbers all dressed in visors with large brims and dark oversized sunglasses with poufy hair and skin still shiny from their last super-high tech, high-dollar facial, one that probably involves lasers or other technology we borrowed from space. They usually have a southern accent, always travel in packs and express no interest in interacting with others. They are a members-only crew, the retired mean girls who always leave a whiff of expensive perfume in their wake. Who hikes in perfume? That’s exactly my point.

Then there are the eccentric older dudes with giant headphones, singing out loud and using ski poles since they probably have at least one artificial joint, and not just of the smoking variety. I’m assuming they belong to the old beat up vans I see in the parking lot and are more than likely the ski bum hippies from Aspen who came to Basalt to die. Thing is, they’re not dead yet.

Then there are the nice old couples, folks like my parents who hike together so they stay together and have probably been married for a million years. The women always have these insanely good bodies with wrinkled faces attached so they look like stop signs. And the men just look like old men, usually carry a fanny pack and wear this stupid expression on their face like they are getting away with something.

Then there are the other mommies with babies, who should be my people but kind of aren’t. The fact that they are like 20 years younger than me is just one reason.

Like the other day I could hear these two girls having a very animated conversation behind me as I’m huffing and puffing and telling myself over and over, “this is not a race” as I accelerate, but to no avail because they just keep getting closer and louder. I’m thinking, “Well, they’re not carrying a baby, so there,” and just wishing they would pass me already.

When they finally pass, and I stand off to the side to vomit quietly, I see one of the girls is carrying a baby.

When I finally make it to the top and try to act all casual as I wipe the drool off my chin with the back of my hand, we chat for a bit and I find out her baby is only three weeks old. Even though her baby isn’t as heavy as mine, the chick just gave birth and she looks like a svelte teenager. I overhear her say to her friend, “Yeah, so I pushed like twice and the baby came out and then they want to charge me like six grand for the delivery.” I try not to hate her.

Then one day, I pass this woman who is breastfeeding her baby while she is hiking, which seems to me like rubbing your head and patting your belly, or is it supposed to be the other way around? I mean, I can’t even imagine attempting this kind of multitasking.

So I go, “Oh, you have a little tiny one there,” though I’m not sure why I say that. I know most women breastfeed for the first year, duh.

“He’s 11 months old,” she says in this accusatory tone.

That’s when I notice the long leg hanging down with a foot attached that is probably bigger than mine and am just so totally confused at this point that I feel the urge to run, thinking about the bottle of formula that’s sitting in my hot car probably fermenting by now.

Then there are the people that walk right past me and the baby and then go completely bat nuts over the pug and make a huge scene. The best is when Gertie does the “duck and weave,” pulling her head away from their extended hand and running past them like they have a contagious disease.

Don’t get me wrong, people are very nice and say encouraging things like, “Wow, that’s amazing,” rather than yelling, “What the hell are you thinking, hiking with a baby on a trail this steep?” and threatening to call Child Protective Services. So that’s good.

Hiking with the babes is the best part of my day. I love having his little body strapped to my chest so I can feel his heartbeat, almost like it did when he was on the inside. I love that I hiked this very trail when I was pregnant with him and now he’s actually here. And now I’m growing him with fresh air and sunshine and the bluest ever sky. I love when he stares up at me with big, wide-open eyes, flashes that gummy smile and then looks around, taking it all in.

The Aspen Princess has really sore knees. Email your love to


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