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Aspens; Maroon Bells; Beaver; “Nice Outfit”; Hanging Lake; Stinky – The Rest of the Story; Fishnet Stockings?

The past two days have provided us some much-needed mountain scenery. On Wednesday, we drove to Aspen, but not to hang out with Madonna. We were looking for some mountains, and on the way up, we found thousands of the aspen trees (Populus tremuloides) for which the town was named. These trees alongside the road grabbed our attention for their beautiful bark. Aspens grow in clonal colonies, derived from a single seedling, with new trees appearing up to 100-130 ft from the parent tree. Individual trees live for 40-150 years, but the root system can live for many centuries. One colony in Utah, nicknamed “Pando”, is estimated to be 80,000 years old. 

We visited the Maroon Bells, which are neither a restaurant nor a colorful church tower. The Maroon Bells are two 14,000 ft peaks in the Elk Mountains near Aspen that are stunningly beautiful. With many stands of Aspen trees below, they are rugged and snow-streaked (not snow-capped because they are too steep to hold much snow). They are also called “The Deadly Bells”, named that because of a series of accidents in 1965 when eight climbers were killed because of their down-sloping, loose, rotten and unstable rock. 

The approach trail is alongside Maroon Lake. It is a lovely lake, and supposedly a good fishing spot for rainbow and cutthroat TROUT, although the water was so cold that they aren’t feeding this early in the season. The hike was a joy for Suzanne and the puppies, who rarely get out on real hikes, since National Parks and Monuments don’t allow canine hikers. 

What have been feeding are the beaver (Castor canadensis), some of whom live in this condo with 360 degree water views. Rudy and Gretchen were going crazy with all the beaver scents along the shore. Even though Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers, beavers (the world’s second-largest rodents) are a suitable replacement for their hunting skills. 

The tender sprouts of this willow and dozens of others have been gnawed by the beaver for food and to build their lodges. Aspen are also a favorite food. Getting to their bedroom requires a chilly swim, but their water-resistant fur keeps them warm even in winter. Beavers can grow to 55 lbs, and their four incisors are self-sharpening and keep growing continuously so they won’t get worn down from chewing wood. 

The town of Aspen itself was nice, but filled full of shops and boutiques. One display caught my eye. I commented to My Lovely Bride, “Gosh, if that’s what the girls here wear, it can’t be that bad of a place to live… maybe we could look into property here, Suzanne.” Smack… 

Well, I couldn’t read the real estate listings because of my black eye, but My Sweetheart told me that Aspen was the most expensive market in the USA, with most single family homes going for 2-15 million bucks. We decided to forgo even looking…

Thursday morning was another hike, this time to Hanging Lake, near Glenwood Springs. It had been recommended to us by Jerry and Rusty Bianchi as one of the most popular trails in Colorado, and we can understand why. This 1.5 mile trail is one of the steepest we’ve completed. You start along the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon, and hike up Deadhorse Creek Canyon. There are several places to sit beside a roaring stream and meditate… 

After an hour’s effort, you arrive at crystal-clear Hanging Lake where waterfalls and cliffs provide an idyllic backdrop. The turquoise color is provided by travertine mineral deposits. You can see fish thirty feet away in the clear water, but fishing and swimming are not allowed to preserve the clarity of the water. We reluctantly left Hanging Lake and returned to The Coach for the next leg of our trip, to Moab, Utah.

On the way to Moab, I received a note from our good friend Catherine Cote, relating to a previous blog entry about a guy named Stinky Steinbeck. We had seen his name on an “Adopt-a-Trail” sign while hiking on the Blue River Trail in Silverthorne, Colorado. Well, here is “the rest of the story”: Stinky is actually a close friend of Catherine’s sister Sally. He apparently got his nickname from kids at school, who called him Stinkbrain, among other names. I innocently asked, “Would you want to make a trans-Atlantic flight with him sitting in the seat next to you?” Turns out Stinky is an Air Force Academy grad and a pilot to boot, so perhaps it would be okay if he was in the cockpit instead of sitting next to you on that long flight. Sally and her husband Steve, who was Stinky’s Academy roommate, introduced her good friend Karen to Stinky… and they are still friends after all these years… It’s a small world.
I would normally make some cheap shot about Air Force guys at this point, but since I haven’t met either Steve or Stinky, I will withhold any comments. Maybe next year we can come back this way and meet Stinky, but I’ll be sure to bring a gas mask just in case…

In closing, I feel obligated to report on two varying perceptions of women’s apparel. As we were walking our puppies around Moab tonight, we passed a restaurant, where I noted an attractive young woman server wearing a very short skirt and fishnet stockings. I smiled with approval, and My Lovely Bride, ever observant to such sideways glances, rolled her eyes without comment… I said, “Darling, I know women think those stockings make girls look cheap, but they also make her look trashysnort…” Smack, smack, smack…

1 Comment

  • Jennifer
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Ty, gorgeous photos of nature,water,snow… Yesterday's photos are beautiful too…
    Must be refreshing!


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