Thursday, June 17, 2010

Snowmass and Aspen

You're going to need to strap yourselves in for this one!  Hubs and I arrived in Vail on Monday morning and promptly drove ourselves to Snowmass.  It's a nice drive in the summer.  And speaking of that.....I'm pretty much through with Colorado in the Winter.  As the (very cute) guy helping hubs in Ralph Lauren said the other day...."There are only two things to do in Colorado in the and drink.  But there are a hundred things to do in the summer....and a hundred and one if you include drinking."  (And I do, but we'll discuss that later.)

I've been to Colorado in the summer on a few other occasions.  One time we were visiting colleges during the summer before Barry's Sr. year.....UC Boulder and the Air Force Academy (he really wanted to go, but unfortunately was lacking in the grade department!!)  That was a bust, but we all remembered how fabulous the weather was and always said we'd come back.

And other than a short weekend trip to Telluride one September, somehow that never happened, until now.  Big mistake.  We'll be back annually from now on.

So we arrived Monday afternoon and settled in to our Exclusive Resorts residences at The Timbers at Snowmass.  I'll give you a complete review of that in a few days, but this is one of those trips that's going to require multiple posts!   We're here for the Food and Wine Classic but that doesn't start until Friday, so we had a few days to kill.  Hubs would say that I tried to kill HIM, but that's not totally true.

There's something about Colorado that brings out the health nut in everyone.  The mountains, all of the walking and biking paths, the fresh 70 degree air with not an ounce of humidity....all of that just screams at you to GET OUTSIDE AND EXERCISE YOUR FAT ASS.

So that's what I did.  Unfortunately, I drug Mr. B with me.  Poor unsuspecting soul.  He trusts me implicitly.....until now.

I took it easy on him on Tuesday.  We just followed a path out of our front door looking to find Snowmass Village and maybe some breakfast!

It was at the most maybe a mile....slightly uphill.  And I say "slightly" only in retrospect of Wednesday's hike, but you'll hear more about that hike from hell in a minute.

But the walk Tuesday was pretty mild...

...and really lulled Hubs into a false sense of security.

We ended up here in Snowmass Village for a nice cup of coffee and hot chocolate.  He was really feeling good about himself and the fact that his wife had not led him into purgatory.  Which is always a fear for him.

After our walk we decided to head into Aspen and check it out.  We had never been there before and wanted to see what exactly had Goldie Hawn so damn enamored.

As much as I think Goldie has gone a little wackadoo over the years, I totally get her love for this town.  It's so not your typical ski village.  This is the small town that everyone wants to live in.  Granted only about 1% of the population can actually afford to live here, but nonetheless........

Hubs and I said it reminded us of Birmingham, Michigan with mountains.  Lots of local color, great shopping, fabulous restaurants, everyone has their dog with them, and tons of great gathering spaces.

So we had lunch at Ajax Tavern which is at the base of the mountain at the main gondola.  Great food and great atmosphere.  As we found out later in the week, this is the place to see and be seen for the Food and Wine Classic....(spotted Mario Batali and Fabio from Top Chef at lunch on Thursday)... but more about that later.

This was our view from the patio of the restaurant.  Nice, right?  Hubs was loving it.  

Until the next morning.  See, I had read in the hiking guidebook in our ER residence that this trail...the Ute trail.... had the best views of Aspen at the TOP of the trail.  What?  I like great views.  And I wanted to show y'all great views.

So I decided that we were going to hike this trail Wednesday morning.  In the spirit of full disclosure (not that I told Mr. B any of this..) here's what the guidebook said..

Roundtrip Distance/Hiking Time:  2 1/2 miles / 2 hours
Difficulty:  Difficult (extremely steep with poor footing)
General Comments:  The steep, rocky Ute Trail, reached on foot from the center of Aspen, offers one of the best views of Aspen and Roaring Fork Valley of any trail in the area.  Situated on Aspen Mountain to the east of the Silver Queen Gondola, the Ute Trail ends at a rock outcropping near the ski slopes just below Gentlemen's Ridge.  The climb is steep (the trail ascends almost 1,200 feet to an elevation of 9,185 feet), but the view from the rocks is well worth it.  The hike up this trail is a popular workout for local athletes.

See what I mean.  How many times do they mention "the view"?

So we start out up this first hill.  Don't let this picture fool you.  As I have discovered looking back at these photos, I SUCK at taking pictures that truly reflect the amount of incline that's involved.  I'm sure there is a class for that and I'll be taking it post haste.

Anyhoo, we walk up that first hill and in between heart attacks I look back and see the following view.  I think it's a lovely fucking view of Aspen.  Don't you?  I'm serious.  I look at my 57 year old husband and say.  "This is good."  He's wheezing and seriously pissed that I'm making him do this, but says.."No.  You wanted to go to the top.  We're going to the fucking top."  Now, we've only gone about 20 yards (STRAIGHT UPHILL) and he's trying to prove a point, but the SOB starts walking.

We were following these people that immediately went off the path and headed straight up the (DOUBLE BLACK DIAMOND) hill, and hubs asks me if we should follow them.  I look at the gravel road in front of me (that looks relatively flat at that point) and tell him no, that I'd rather take the longer, flatter route.  I'm stupid.

There was no flat part.  That picture above was taken by moi just after I'd had my fourth heart attack and this 20-year old BASTARD went RUNNING past us.  That's my husband ignoring him just so he didn't punch him on the way by.

This was the second view of Aspen (those white tents are the F&W Classic tents!!).  Again, I told my lovely husband that this was a great view.

Right?  I could have posted this pic and you would have believed I'd made it all the way to the top.  Right?  RIGHT?

See.  I told you.  DOUBLE BLACK DIAMOND.  That's what we were hiking UP.  I won't even ski down one of those suckers.  Why the hell am I walking up one.  AND TO NORWAY??  For the love.

To be completely honest, this is the view I had 90% of the hike up.  The gound.  A small part of that is because I just wanted to keep my head down and focus on the 95% incline in front of me.  The biggest part is because I was constantly grabbing my ankles and gasping for air (of which there isn't a lot at NINE THOUSAND FEET).

And this really pissed me off.  The entire hike this is the view I had of the OLD guy that didn't want to go on this hike.  FORTY STEPS ahead of me.   Initially, I was like..WTF???  He's ten years older than I am.  What's going on here?  Then I remembered.  He's 6'7"!  He's lived his entire life in THIN AIR.  He's USED TO THIS SHIT.   Totally made me feel better about myself.

But then I saw this guy.  I couldn't even keep up with him.  Jeesh.

And I made a COMPLETE fool of myself when I saw this truck.  Layed down in the road trying to get a  ride.  Jerk just yelled at me and said I should try to keep up with the old guy in front of me.  Errrrrrr.

So when I caught up with the senior citizen this is what I found!  Hahahaha.  He swears he was looking at a bug.  Riiiiiggght.

See that option on the bottom?  I was this close.

After about an hour and a quarter, we ended up here.  We christened it THE TOP!  Technically, we may have been wrong.  But it was the top for us.  I actually had on my Body Bugg, but didn't bring along a USB connection to upload the data so I don't know how far we went.  But, believe me, when we get home, I'm checking that shit out.

I'm happy with our efforts.  And look at that view behind Mr. B.  

And rare proof that I actually went too!

Can you find those F&W tents now?

This was the last sign we saw on the way down.  It should actually read....The "Old" Goat Road, right?

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