As promised, the story continues. My husband and I spent days in a friendly debate about signing up for this snowshoe tour with Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES). My hesitation for the snowshoe tour was founded in my automatic disposition of nervousness. Well, that and I am out of shape and out breath (thanks, altitude). Naturally, my husband signed us up.
The drive from Aspen to Ashcroft was beautiful. The twists and turns of the road were met with the eager beauty of snow and Aspen trees. My husband chatted with the other passengers in the car about the Aspen trees and their root system. I stared out the window, carefully laying the bricks of anxiety within my brain. The tension was building about my first snowshoe trek.
The Snowshoe trek was interesting and challenging. The ACES nature guide was outstanding. She gave us several fun facts throughout the journey; they are (hopefully, I recalled them accurately):
Beavers are detailed dam builders. They often build a mud room separate from their main living corders.
Side note, I love dam jokes… it is so difficult to not make a dam joke. I did get a dam picture. The snow made it difficult to get a good dam picture.
Winter is starting later and later, every year. The concern is the lack of snow in winter decreases the accessibility of water flow to the Colorado River. Meaning, people will have less access to the water.
The woodpecker uses his or her tongue to create a shock absorber around it’s head (brain) as it is pecking on trees.
A highlight of the ACES tour was the Ashcroft Ghost Town. The Ashcroft Ghost Town is a silent reminder to all, that mining was at the forefront of the job market, for a period of time. These buildings once held its people with a single focus to break it “big” in the field of mining. It’s once booming growth descended quickly as Ashcroft’s competition for mining declined with Aspen’s to success.
The snowshoeing experience is one that will resonate within me for many years. I was scared and embarrassed by my inability, to maintain pace with group. My breathing was labored and often intense. At one point, I fell to the ground, repeatedly. I asked the guide about other means of returning to ACES cabin (the starting point). She encouraged me by reminding me that the last hill was up a head. Finally, I could do one more hill and then LUNCH!
As the trek continued, I began to muster my inner strength, slowly. Here is the thing about mustering. I am not an expert. Most days, I am not good at it. Yet, my two legs carried me through the snow, sweat, and altitude. I descended from that final hill and looked up. Beauty, wonder, awe are a few words to describe this still moment in my mind. A scene like no other. Even now, I cannot find enough words to describe these mountains, of glory and honor. I began to gently cry. Our guide read Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s poem The Invitation. My heart exploded in this spiritual union between myself and my Creator’s natural word. Yet, even now, I struggle with words to describe such an intimate moment.
Midway through the trek we had lunch, at Pinecreek Lodge. A beautiful log restaurant tucked in a mountainous dream. Literally. Large windows afforded it’s guest to feast on food and terrain. Knowing the lunch was at the end of this hill, I felt relief enter my tired bones. My recommendation for lunch are the buffalo momos.
Pushing myself through my vulnerability and hardship on the trek, taught me that the reward for the difficult hike laid within the beauty of the mountains. I was lucky enough to have a moment that was mine. A moment, that I could feel the power of attempting something difficult. I was naked and exposed; yet clothed in my yearning. A yearning within the soul to connect to the natural world.
There are many that would not have struggled with this snowshoe hike, as I did. However, I would not changed the struggle. The struggle helped me to chip away my doubts and fears in my ability to complete a difficult task. This experience taught me that without the struggle, I would not have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the view. Life’s most precious moments are often the creation of hardship. Time will continue to move forward; I hope to never lose sight of that brief moment in Ashcroft, Colorado. That moment when nature painted her glory in my heart.
Disclaimer: I am not receiving any financial compensation from any organization, group, or place mentioned in this post. These are my own thoughts, experience, and/or any recommendations mentioned.
The beauty of Colorado is nestled in its boisterous peaks, of the Rocky Mountains. While skiing often attracts those looking for high-altitude jolts of excitement; there are plenty of opportunities for the non-skiers. Join me, as I tell the story of my husband and I, in Aspen, Colorado.
The plane arrived in Denver, Colorado. We arranged a multi passenger transport, with Colorado Mountain Express, from Denver International Airport to our hotel in Snowmass, Colorado. The 5 hour ride from the airport in to the mountains was worth the slightly cramped ride in a 15 passenger van. We were able to view Breckenridge, Vail, and Copper Mountains, from the highway. My personal favorite involved seeing a handful of big horned sheep on the ragged edges of the highway.
Snowmass, Colorado is 9 miles from Aspen. We stayed in the Westin Hotel. The hotel is located near the Snowmass mall and the Snowmass mountain skiing area. First recommendation, eat breakfast at Fuel . My recommendation is the Mediterranean burrito, with a brewed coffee; if you are feeling some extra carb lust, grab one of their pastries or doughnuts. Snowmass is a picturesque town placed in the mist of mountains. A town with unending views of the world’s first beauty. My husband’s personal favorite was Francesca’s Argentinian empanadas. Visit the Ice Age Discovery Center , a great spot for families they information on the mastodon found by archaeologists, in that area. The Snowmass area offers many options outside of downhill skiing. For a complete list of events and activities, check here AspenSnowmass.com.
Before the story continues, I must note that the elevation of Snowmass is 8,209 ft. These Iowans struggled with altitude sickness given that Iowa is around 955 ft above sea level. Take altitude sickness seriously. Rest, drink plenty of water, eat carbs, limit alcohol, limit caffeine, get oxygen, if necessary (all hotels and resorts can assist with this), and in severe cases head to a lower elevation. I, personally, had two full days of sickness; however, I continued to struggled even as I increased physical activity, for the remainder of the week. Experts say that it takes about 3 weeks to fully acclimatize to higher altitudes.
The Aspen and Snowmass areas are easily visited from either location. There are buses that run regularly, from both mountains (and, they are free to ride). My husband and I, regularly utilized the bus system to go from Snowmass to Aspen.
Aspen is an interesting place. Yes, there are plenty of places to ski. However, there is an artistic, environmental focus to Aspen. Aspen has a focal dedication to conservation, reducing waste, and recycling. Every trash receptacle in town offers a section for recycling, composting, and trash. Every store we purchased items from packed our items in a paper bag. Aspen Skiing Company believes in operating their business with sustainable energy and an intentional focus of reducing waste. Please read the environmental commitment for more information about Aspen Ski Company’s plan to use sustainable energy.
The Aspen Art Museum has a wonderful cafe on the third floor and admission to the Aspen Art Museum is free. The Museum is focused on showcasing modern artists in the galleries; the building itself, is a structural piece of art. My husband bought a new camera lens for this trip; he loved the interesting lines of the building itself.
The John Denver Sanctuary is a short walk (down hill) from the Aspen Art Museum. John Denver was a folk singer. He often wrote about his love for Colorado and nature. He lived the majority of his life, in Aspen. Denver died at the age of 57, in a single occupancy plane crash, near Pacific Grove, California. The John Denver Sanctuary is located in the Rio Grande Park, in Aspen. This sanctuary pays homage to Denver’s life.
Basalt, Colorado is down valley from Snowmass. Again, the bus system between these communities is affordable and easy to navigate. The Snowmass or Aspen bus will take you to directly to the bus stop for down valley stops. Basalt is a great place to breath again (haha). Basalt’s elevation is 6,611 ft. There are many quaint restaurants and boutiques. Of course, my husband located a resale book store within the Basalt Library.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of our trip with an account of our snowshoeing excursion in Ashcroft, Colorado….
Disclaimer: I am receiving no financial compensation for this post. These are strictly my thoughts, opinions, experiences and photographs.