11 Ultimate Adventures From Aspen Locals

This week’s guest blog comes from local journalist Amiee White Beazley: Twitter: @awbeazley1, Instagram: @awbeazley. Read the full article online via The Aspen Times. Featured locals include Anda Rojs Smalls, Naturalist Field School Director at ACES; Greg Fitzsimmons, Content Marketing Manager at Promo Communications; Max Taam, Aspen Mountain Patroller; “Captain Katie” Oestrike Co-Owner of Epic Events of Aspen and Ski Instructor; Meaghan Lynch, Public Relations Manager, Aspen Skiing Co.; Paul Viola – Owner, Kissane Viola Design;  Will Fisher – Pastor, St. Peter’s of the Valley Episcopal Church; Scott Condon, reporter for The Aspen Times; Steven Goff, photographer, ski concierge and Jeep guide at The Little Nell; Scott Spooner of Taylor Creek Fly Shops;  and Tim Power Smith, Director of Operations at The Aspen Club.

 

Summer has just begun, but we all know the season comes and goes quickly. With just 11 weeks left until Labor Day, it’s time to get outside and tackle your summer bucket list. To inspire you— and perhaps scare and shame you — we’ve reached out to regular Aspen-area locals just like you, to help compile a list of 11 ultimate outdoor adventures. You know what they say, live each day like it was your last. Not, sit on your couch and watch “American Ninja Warrior” until your thighs atrophy. The time is now!

Week 1. Goatpacking

Anda Rojs Smalls, Naturalist Field School Director at ACES

“What it comes down to for me is backpacking and hiking up high and along the ridges. I like knowing a beginning point and an end point, knowing the lay of the land and then connecting some of the lesser traveled trails in the backcountry. What would be cool to do is a backpacking trip from here to McClure Pass or, if we have enough time (more than just a weekend), we’ll make a goatpacking trip out of it and take our pack goats, Marko, Mulligan, Mo, Manny and Whitey with us. That always adds another layer of adventure! Hiking in the high country is the ultimate around here. It’s about getting away from people and busy trails. It’s about the views, the solitude, just being there. And bringing our kids along makes the adventures in our valley that much more fun and special. Their excitement and zest for explorations keeps them going even when the hiking seems to get really long for them. The excitement in the kids, let alone our own experience, is what makes the summers in our valley the ‘ultimate’ — every year.”

Week 2. Wakeboarding at Paonia Reservoir

Greg Fitzsimmons, Content Marketing Manager at Promo Communications

“Every summer skiing in August in Portillo is on my hit list. I just booked my ticket last weekend. There is big contingent of Aspen locals down there that create a small community, and trading flip flops for ski boots is awesome. But closer to home, for our family, every summer we log a ton of time at Paonia Reservoir. Our friends have a super rickety old RV. We call it ‘Stanley the RV,’ complete with bullhorns on the hood. We take Stanley up and over McClure Pass to Paonia Reservoir and go wakeboarding and wakesurfing, fishing and barbecuing. There is really, good glassy water there until early afternoon, and you can wakeboard for hours in the morning. Then, when the winds pick up, we swap wakeboards for surfboards and wakesurf through the afternoon. We try to get over there for at least one full moon cycle every summer when we get to surf on the reservoir illuminated by a full moon. At times yours is the only boat out on the water. You get that feeling that it’s your own personal lake. It’s an idyllic setup up in the Rockies.”

Week 3. Mountain Biking To/From Peter Estin Hut

Max Taam, Aspen Mountain Patroller

“One thing I did last summer around the Fourth of July is mountain biked from Aspen, up and over Lenado to Larkspur, down Miller Creek, across the Fryingpan and up to the Peter Estin Hut where we spent the night. Then we rode down the Fryingpan and to Basalt. I like to explore new connections and look for new mountain bike routes, instead of the classic routes, and see where we can end up. The reason I like using the huts is because you can pack light ­— I take one sleeping bag for the two of us and then eat cous cous for dinner and oatmeal for breakfast. It doesn’t weigh very much. I love seeking out new adventures in the local mountains, and visiting mountains throughout the world. Recently I visited Colombia and Norway. ...”

Week 4. Learn to Sail

“Captain Katie” Oestrike Co-Owner of Epic Events of Aspen and Ski Instructor

“A couple of days ago, there was a post on the Roaring Fork Swap Facebook page that said: ‘Old Sailboat for Sale, $250.’ So, I bought it. I don’t know how to sail, but I’m going to learn. My friend, a real estate agent, was cleaning out a client’s house in Redstone and helping his client, and old guy, sell a bunch of stuff. It was up in Redstone so I checked it out and took it with me because the trailer and lights worked. It’s a 1966 Flying Junior, and with it came all these random letters from the company to this original owner written in 1966. The biggest thing I miss in Aspen is water. I spend a lot of time out on the river rafting but I am looking for something more to do on the water. I don’t know anything about sailing but I used to do it when I was 12 at summer camp in Pennsylvania on one of those Sunfishes. Now that I have a boat it’s great. For now it doesn’t cost anything — you just need some wind. People keep asking ‘Where are you going to sail it? Where are you going to go?’ I’m going to take it out on July 4th weekend on Reudi, but I’ve already got people telling me it might be too much wind. For now I’m just going to go sail around there and hope it doesn’t sink.”

Week 5. Run West Maroon Pass to CB (and Back)

Meaghan Lynch, Public Relations Manager, Aspen Skiing Co.

“I’m hoping to run from Aspen to Crested Butte and back this summer. There is a group of girls I run with, we call ourselves ‘The Columbines,’ and we do fun, long adventure runs about 10 to 20 miles on the weekends. Last year we ran out to Conundrum and are making plans for the Four Pass Loop this summer. We like to see how much ground we can cover. It’s great to have each other because those longer runs can be lonely, but with a group of great girls the laughs seem endless and the well-deserved beer at the end is shared with excellent company. Last year we had a picnic out at Conundrum, you know, with the limited amount of food we could carry in our running vests. The fact that on some of these big runs, you can find a group of five or six of us who are down for something like this is definitely a testament to the athletes in the valley. And there are so many trails around here we couldn’t be more fortunate ­—­ there is access literally out of our backyards.”

Week 6. Mountain Bike from Aspen to Basalt via the Arbaney-Kittle Trail

Paul Viola – Owner, Kissane Viola Design

“Something I will probably do this summer is bike the Arbaney-Kittle Trail from Aspen to Basalt. It’s about 35 miles, and it’s definitely an all-day ride. There are a number of ways to do it. The official way is to bike up Smuggler to the Hunter Creek Valley, to Four Corners, Lenado and then up to Kobe Park which then hooks up to the Arbaney-Kittle trail and single track all the way down to Basalt. The end of that hooks up to the Rio Grande Trail and back to Aspen. That is the really legitimate way. Then there’s another option, riding up Chaparral Road. There is now an easement off of Chaparral Road for mountain biking. From my house in Woody Creek, I can ride up Chaparral and out towards Arbaney-Kittle from there. The easement is a little more direct but steeper. This route is becoming more and more popular. The Roaring Fork Mountain Biking Association has been doing a lot of trail work on it, maintaining it and making it more accessible. It’s an epic all-day ride.”

Week 7. Run the Capitol-Avalanche-Hell Roaring Loop

Will Fisher – Pastor, St. Peter’s of the Valley Episcopal Church

“This summer I will do the Capitol-Avalanche-Hell Roaring Loop again. It’s just as pretty and challenging as the Four Pass Loop, but not nearly as crowded. I did it last summer as a run, or you could do it as a two-night backpacking trip. At 26.2 miles and about 7,900 feet of evaluation gain, it has as much lung busting as the Four Pass Loop but you get a lot more solitude. Those considering doing it should definitely know it is serious wilderness. Fewer crowds also means if something goes wrong, it is less likely somebody is coming by to help. Especially high up in the Hell Roaring Basin, there is some route finding you have to do, the trail fades out and fades back in. There is a limited season for doing it, sometime after July 4 and before Oct. 1, or before the first big snowstorm of October. The advantages in early season is you are going to have amazing wildflowers and later in the season, gorgeous colors.”

Week 8. Ride the Snowmass Loop

Scott Condon, an avid mountain biker, writes in this year’s “Summer in Aspen”:

Snowmass Village officials are heavily promoting the Snowmass Loop, a 24-mile route that features some of the best singletrack trails in the Roaring Fork Valley. Park at the Rodeo Lot. From there, riders can get on the Ditch Trail in a few short minutes, then avoid pavement for hours. The route circumnavigates Snowmass Village on terrain that ranges from climbs in aspen forests to technical traverses across ski trails and exposed, near-desert terrain on sun-drenched southern slopes. Completing the entire loop requires linking several trails. The town’s summer 2016 trail map will make the route clear. While the town will promote the whole ride as a multi-hour, cross-country adventure, the beauty of it is the route can also be broken into chunks for visitors who don’t want to put in one mammoth day.

Week 9. Hike the Traverse from Sopris to Capitol

Steven Goff, photographer, ski concierge and Jeep guide at The Little Nell

“Last summer my friend and I backpacked the Four Pass Loop, but this summer we are planning to revisit several of those passes, basins and lakes, including Capitol and Pierre Lakes, by choosing to hike along the high country that connects Mount Sopris to the Capitol massif and interconnecting Hell Roaring and Avalanche Creek Trails, ending in Redstone. We’ve always entered this area the traditional way by either the Maroon Bells area or Capitol Creek trailhead. The traverse from Sopris to Capital has always interested me and it’s something that neither of us has done. I love the high alpine lakes in this area, particularly Snowmass and Capitol and it’ll be fun to research some alternative routes to get there!”

Week 10. Fish Snowmass Lake

Scott Spooner of Taylor Creek Fly Shops writes in The Aspen Times publication, “Summer in Aspen”:

“Snowmass Lake is not for the faint of heart, but well worth the effort. Be sure to go early, as late afternoon storms are commonplace in the high country (this goes for all alpine lakes here in the valley). An 8-mile hike will bring you to a little-pressured fishery full of cutthroat, brook and rainbow trout.”

Week 11. Maroon Bells Traverse

Tim Power Smith, Director of Operations at The Aspen Club

“An absolute essential for the serious mountaineer is the Bells Traverse. Ascending South Maroon and traversing over to North Maroon. It is a long day but a must do. Some Class 3 and 4 with some committing class 5 moves. You want to be in great condition, not only in technical climbing but confident in route finding, rock climbing, very comfortable with exposure, heights and bouldering. It’s one of those very committing climbs and a humbling experience, to be out in that big country and have so much exposure. You realize how important it is to be careful and knowledgeable and respectful of trail route finding, each and every handhold and every step because you don’t know if you’re going to fall or not. It makes you respect the land out here.”