Ski conditions excite even the mellow
I unleashed the beast in my dog by taking her skinning up Tiehack three out of seven days starting on Thanksgiving.
That might not be much of a feat for some Roaring Fork Valley dogs, but for Ginger, it’s saying something. Ginger is probably one of the mellowest dogs in the valley. Some people who know her contend she would be dead if she were any more reserved.
She’s got her moments where she displays a playful or happy side, but she typically goes with the flow at any given time. I chalk it up to her survival of Hurricane Katrina. She was a 6-month-old puppy living on the Mississippi Coast when the colossal storm struck. She was swept up in a veterinarian’s rescue effort and eventually shipped to the Aspen Animal Shelter, where my family found her. After surviving Katrina, I think Ginger is just satisfied with whatever is happening.
She’s definitely taken a shine to hitting the slopes of Tiehack. That’s a good thing, given my skiing strategy this year. I decided to purchase only a seven-day Classic Pass, which guaranteed a good snow year. (No need to thank me.) I figured I would use my alpine touring gear to go skinning uphill two or three times per week and go cross-country skiing at least once per week.
I’ve also vowed to see a wider variety of trails than usual, such as the cross-country trails around Sunlight Mountain Resort and the informal routes on McClure Pass, and particularly make more trips to Ashcroft Ski Touring, an underappreciated gem of the Aspen area. Of course, no winter would be complete without visiting the excellent trail system at Aspen-Snowmass and at Spring Gulch outside Carbondale.
So far, so good. I’ve been on skis six times so far this season without using my pass, including three trips to Tiehack’s slopes. Ginger can hardly contain her excitement despite her calm demeanor.
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In a move unusual in today’s West, private land in the Crystal Valley opened in July to free public use by mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners. Coal Basin Ranch opened a 5-mile trail network in mid-July that is open to the public at no cost.