Saturday, July 23, 2016

Aspen Mountain Hike

Monday morning was spent helping Shelley out--she had to go to Atlanta for the balance of the week for work, so she had rented a car to drive to the Denver Airport, needing to leave around noon to make the 4 hour drive to catch her flight.  But, given her ankle sprain from the day before, she really wanted to get a doctor to look at it.  Well, unimaginable though it may sound to our Atlanta friends, she was able to call the orthopedist's office here when they opened at 9, and was able to get in to see the doctor an hour later.  I drove her to his office and she was in and out within an hour after arrival--sounds like some fantasy, huh?  About the same time frame when Trisha went to the same office a week or so ago for her knees.  Anyway, they did X-rays, found no broken bones, but a pretty decent high ankle sprain.  Put her in a boot with the inflatable bag for pressure.  So I drove her to the local airport to pick up her rental car and she was on the road as per her original schedule.

That afternoon Trisha and I rode bikes out to Difficult Campground, along the East of Aspen Trail, and had a good time.

I had decided to give the Aspen Mountain Summit a try on Tuesday morning, but it rained all night, and was raining when I first woke up, so I was about to scratch my plans.  But after an hour or so, the sun came out so I went ahead.  First you go up the Ute Trail to Ute Rock, about a mile with 1200 feet of elevation gain--pretty steep climb!  I made myself go more slowly, since I knew that after Ute Rock I still had another 2000 feet of elevation gain to reach the top in 2 1/2 more miles.  Also knew I needed to go more slowly due to the all night rain, since there were some wet roots, making the footing a bit more of a challenge.  But it all went well and I had some spectacular views along the way.  After the Ute Rock, there's a pretty steep climb up into the ski run area and then the trail follows a lot of the paths of some different lift lines.  It turned into a beautiful day and the vistas along the hike and at the top were  just stunningly beautiful.  I made it to the top okay, but had to wait about 15 minutes or so until the gondola started running before I could get a ride down into town.    Another great hike!!

This shot was taken after I had passed Ute Rock and was up a ways

 Some gorgeous wildflowers along the way!
 This is an area called Bingo Glades for expert skiers--they only open it after there's been enough snow to sufficiently cover all the rocks, but it is incredibly steep.  Of course Ken and his son, Jack, have skied it a number of times, but tell me that in ski season they have all sorts of signs to warn people that this is considered an off trail area, and that only expert level skiers should go down--don't think I'd even try!!
 Looking down into the valley
 And then up to one of the peaks I have to make it over in order to get to the summit
 Emergency phone for ski season
 Made it through the Glades, in a bit of a meadow--the relatively flat section only lasted a little while!
 Looking down into town
 Over on the far ridge you can see some of the ski runs and I'm beginning to see the gondola lines
 Some shots of the gondola lines

 Signs for a black and a double black run
 Looking down into the valley at the sign
 Just never get enough of these incredible colors!!

 A part of the trail runs along a service road up to the top

 Lots of yellow flowers on the way up
 And here I am at Sundeck, the top of the mountain!!
 Looking beyond, toward Aspen Highlands Ski Area, across the valley

 Just glorious views!!

 Some other hikers coming up as I was about to board the gondola
 Heading down on the gondola

 Just crested a ridge and the town comes into view

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