Aspen in the offseason is typically a sleepy, muddy place. This offseason is not typical. We’re staying put and wearing masks for one. We’ve also seen an uptick in tourists. Our overheated globe is supplying us with a truly gorgeous spring with temperatures close to 80 degrees. Guess it’s time to remind everyone of summer trail and river etiquette. Forgive me for repeating myself here, but what a time to be alive.
Aspen hasn’t lost its luster, even during a pandemic. In fact, we look a hundred times more inviting than say, New York City or Los Angeles right now. Given the option, would you rather spend your days indoors working from a high-rise or holing up in a sweet little mountain town where you can hike, bike and just generally have more breathing room?
It’s hard not to get a little possessive of our home. We’ve been staying the course, keeping our distance and staying relatively healthy. But just like that, we have a warm and pleasant May. Tourists are making their way here to enjoy some fresh air and a change of scenery. After this weekend’s weather they’re thinking, “Why don’t we come to Aspen every May?”
It’s all I can do not to pray for a May snowstorm, but then I find myself laying under a sweet smelling crabapple tree in full bloom buzzing with bees and let the thought go. It’s not like Aspen hasn’t been shared before now.
While most summer events have been canceled, you can’t cancel beauty. That’s why we moved here. We’ve all had the thought once or twice a summer, “Where did all of these people come from?” or “Don’t they know uphill has the right of way?” With all of the fun changes we’ve adjusted to in 2020 you can fast track those thoughts because trail and river use is happening in full swing.
Not only do we have to share, but we have to educate. While you’re at it, don’t forget that you aren’t the only one feeling pent up right now. While one moment feels deliriously happy, the next could spill a tiny bit of rage.
This past weekend was as good as it gets.The temperatures were near perfect. I joined a couple friends for the slog up Smuggler on my bike and was nearly to the top when a teenaged e-biker came straight at me full throttle. I may be a bit stubborn and since I was feeling it, I firmly held my ground and kept pedaling uphill. He cut right and I let him know, between panting breaths, that uphill had the right of way. I won the game of chicken, just barely, but then his outstanding parenting shone like a beacon of light. He talked a bunch of trash, below me by the way, and told me I should’ve said please.
I have never wanted to give someone a wedgie that took their waistband above their head more than in that moment. His friend came careering around the corner on his e-bike and stopped short of me with a look of fear in his eyes. Someone raised him right, so he apologized for his friend and threw a couple “ma’ams” my way. You’re e-bike is fine on Smuggler, but you need to be in control of it too. With great speed comes great, great responsibility.
Just remember there are trails that see mixed use and to that I remind us all to be patient, ask politely, and throw a smile out for good measure. Otherwise, I might get off my bike and give you the aforementioned wedgie, because it’s been a looong, weird stretch of time for me, too.
I also made a trip to North Star on Sunday afternoon, because, you know, beauty. I’ve written about it for years. I love to paddle upriver, then turn around after I hit my spot and float down. It’s gorgeous, peaceful and bikini worthy. At the risk of sounding like a big ol’ nerd, it is not a disco, nor is it a place for your dog to run alongside you, nor is it a lazy river where empty bottles and cans can be tossed without a care.
That seems obvious to me, but I was more than surprised to see the throngs of adults making bad decisions left and right.
For instance, at the takeout, oh yeah, the takeout is where users are trying to get off the river. Don’t sit there on your paddle board, or worse yet, come down the ramp toward someone trying to leave with their boat/board in hand, while you push your child in a stroller to come talk to your friend. That’s just rude.
And, if someone is paddling upriver, maybe make the effort to look like you’re in control of your craft. I waited in an eddy to let the drunk girl pass me as she floated down. She proceeded to hit my board, spilling her beer and nearly knocking me over in the process.
I guess I was meant for a head-on collision this past weekend. I survived and am just fine, but I think we could all use a refresher for how to play nice in the outdoors this summer.
The pandemic has turned brains to mush and emotions to pressure cookers that, at times, explode while exercising outdoors. Be smart. Be kind and if you’re going to talk trash, remember to do it to their face. Nobody wakes up and wants to hand out wedgies, but if provoked.…