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The best of both seasons

No one ever accused Richard of not having an active mind. Even though he’s aging and has gotten married, his penchant for original ideas is as much a part of him as when I first met him nearly 20 years ago.In the late ’80s, a spring trip to Moab with Richard involved bringing camping gear, mountain bikes, rock climbing gear and quite possibly ski gear. Most of the time I could get Richard to forgo the ski equipment even though he did have an early morning ski in the La Sals followed by a lengthy mountain bike ride with Rich Kerr a time or two. There were many trips where all we did, it seemed to me, was load and unload my old CJ7 the entire weekend.April and May – mud season – used to be the months everyone dreaded the most in the mountains. During those months, most locals escape to warmer latitudes. Now, April and May provide us with the best of both seasons. It seems to come earlier than in the past and now we can ski, bike, kayak and rock climb to our heart’s content.If there was a bright side (and of course there isn’t) to global warming this could possibly be it. I don’t believe I’m going to try to sell that one to Auden Schindler, especially after opening this week’s issue of Time magazine and reading that global warming may be the single biggest threat to our planet today.I’ve learned slowly from my past forays into the desert with Richard and, accordingly, I limit myself to two different activities and instead of car camping I’ve made the change to clean sheets, soft beds and hot showers.Some of my friends who are into water sports camp and their season normally is later in the spring or early summer. They too have seen a change in their season with runoff happening much earlier than in years past.For rock climbing trips, I will bring trail running shoes just to keep up on my aerobic conditioning when not climbing. The same goes with mountain biking; I might bring hiking gear to take a quick hike in Arches where mountain biking is not allowed.If you’re going to Lake Powell, you’re reading the wrong column, and remember God has a special place reserved for you when you take leave of your existence here on earth. Okay, I do have friends that have taken houseboat trips to Lake Powell but only to keep a written and photographic history of the environmental degradation done to Glen Canyon by the creation of Glen Canyon Dam.It seems skiing Mount Sopris has become a spring tradition with many locals right along with Mount Hayden. If the avalanche conditions are high both mountains can still be climbed and skied back down on low-angle terrain – something that’s not true of our local fourteeners.One of my favorite activities is biking up still-closed Independence Pass and rock climbing some of the easier south-facing crags.True off-road mountain biking is a little challenging in the upper valley, but I’ve heard Mushroom Rock in midvalley is completely snow-free and dry. The only trail in the upper valley dry enough to ride, other then laps up Smuggler, would be up Triangle Peak across the highway from Aspen Village Trailer Park. One of the problems with riding up Triangle Peak is you need the cardiovascular conditioning that few mortals possess and coming down requires a backseat position where your genitals will be just above the back tire – or even behind it.I end up paying more attention to the weather this time of year to gain the right snow conditions and to avoid the blazing spring sun as much as possible. We need a nighttime temperature in town of 36 degrees or lower for me to consider skiing. The alpine start should be between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. for longer tours, which includes Sopris and Hayden. If you are really fit, you can sleep until 4 a.m.If the temperature is not predicted to be low enough or my motivation is waning, then road biking later in the day becomes particularly attractive.I already took my mud-season trip to Mexico in March, which was earlier than I’ve ever taken it before. Now I can enjoy the best of both seasons by biking Saturday and skiing Highlands for closing Sunday. Ron can be reached at ronlrash@aol.com. This is the time of year mountain guides can take vacations or are guiding international trips.


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