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Ross Halleck
 
October 2, 2014 | Ross Halleck

The first snows in Aspen

Now in the seventh decade, I have a wealth of destinations behind me. The highlights are too numerous to mention: 

  • Sailing along the Kenyan coast from Lamu to Mombasa atop an Arab dhow
  • Absorbing the setting sun from a villa in Taormina, Sicily high above the Mediterranean
  • Watching the wildebeest migration from a baloon with my sons overlooking Masai Mara
  • Traveling down the Nile from Aswan, Egypt to Wadi Halfa, Sudan
  • Cavorting the streets of Venice during Carnivale
  • Hiking the Inca Trail in Peru to Machu Picchu
  • Watching howler monkeys from the pyramids of Tikal in Guatemala
  • Diving the reefs of Honduras and Belize
  • Piloting a plane along the entire Grand Canyon from Lake Mead to Lake Powell below the rim
  • Touring Tuscany with my sons, ex-wife and parents

And on and on; I am grateful beyond measure for this ceaseless wanderlust.

So it is time to add another: Aspen in the fall!

With harvest behind and juice in barrel or tank, I decided to take 5 days and head to visit a friend in Aspen.

Although I have been to Aspen before, enjoying the summer for its hiking and cultural events and the winter for skiing, I have never been in the autumn. This is considered a shoulder season, devoid of tourists, the streets quiet but alive, and the eateries full of locals. 

What is unsung that puts Aspen on my list is color. They call the place Aspen (duh) for a reason:-)

I was brought to tears by the beauty around every curve. 

I am here as the guest of a dear friend, Nancy, who has taken it upon herself to introduce her friends to Halleck Vineyard. Athough I am taking a break, she has organized informal tastings and gatherings to build community for me and us. 

It has been a stunning week, starting with an evening of friends around a table of Halleck Vineyard wines. Pete, Lori, Eddy, Wendi, Nancy and I enjoyed a convivial conversation preparing for dinner at Wild Fig.

What a surprise to discover that you cannot bring wine to a restaurant in Colorado. How is that for irony! You can go down to the local dispensary and buy a jar of cannibis like its a jelly donut, but it is against the law to bring your own wine to a restaurant. So we drank at home before a delightful meal at a signature Aspen haunt.

The following day, we started early to beat the weather. We were out at 8:30 to begin a 7 mile hike up to American Lake at 11,400 feet. This was a "breathtaker" for a sea-level guy like me. What Nancy described as an hour and a half up took us 2 hours and 20 minutes of beauty, up. Then another hour and a half down. Big hike for a first day. But I was wholly indoctrinated by then. 

 We were graced that afternoon with the first snowfall of the season. I swear: the snowflakes were an inch across or more. The mountain tops were dusted white and the grass in town was covered, but the temperature held the streets from any accumulation.

Another treasure during this season is the Aspen Film Festival. We enjoyed several movies, not all great, but all interesting and worthy of our time. 

The evening was another gathering of friends around some bottles. Paula, Judi, Alan, and Jill were indoctrinated into our family of friends.

Every day, however has been spent outdoors. Today we climbed Tiehack, one of the peaks of Buttermilk Mountain Ski Area. Joined by Leonard, Marie, Jill, and Lisa, the views were spectacular of Aspen. Walking up in the snow was an added treat.

We finished at Maroon Bells. Viewing them in crystalline white above Maroon Lake, I ask, "Why Maroon Bells?". I only needed to look to my right for the answer. In their shadow, the neighboring peaks were sheilded from the early snows. They were as maroon as a crayon. Quite a place.

Highlands from the top of Tiehack

Comments

Mark's Gravatar
 
Mark
@ Oct 3, 2014 at 7:30 AM
Ross, stunning! I've been to Colorado a few times, but like yourself never in the Fall. I need to correct that oversight! Great Blog post!

Ross Halleck's Gravatar
 
Ross Halleck
@ Oct 3, 2014 at 7:40 AM
Thanks, Mark. Appreciate you reading and glad to serve as inspiration. This place is definitely inspirational for a shooter like yourself. All my shots were from my phone.

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