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New Castle’s Rides & Reggae event brings out trail runners and mountain bikers alike

Mountain bikers and trail runners converged Saturday morning at New Castle’s VIX Ranch Park for the annual Rides & Reggae Festival, which featured two competitions, the Dirty Dozen 10K trail race and 20-mile mountain bike race.

Both events were held on the extensive trail network to the north of Castle Valley Ranch, and proceeds from the races and the concert event are going to help the New Castle Trails Group and Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association build a new trail network on Burning Mountain west of town.

Fifty-nine runners and 65 mountain bikers lined up for the two races, including seven competitors who did both events.

Winning the trail event were Watkins Fulk-Gray and, for the women, Cessair McKinney, who placed fifth overall.

The top mountain bikers were Cameron Brenneman in the overall top spot, and Kathryn Armstrong among the female competitors.

Following are the top 10 finishers in each event (*denotes female finisher):

10K trail run

  1. Watkins Fulk-Gray, 48 minutes, 23 seconds
  2. Tristan Purdy, 48:42
  3. Nico Plume, 49:29
  4. Bernie Boettcher, 49:47
  5. Cessair McKinney*, 50:31
  6. Quinn Harnett, 53:04
  7. Trevor Gerber, 55:54
  8. Steven Fuller, 58:04
  9. Bob Byrum, 59:01
  10. Anne Swanson*, 59:14

20M mountain bike race

  1. Cameron Brenneman, 1 hour, 54 minutes, 36 seconds
  2. Butch Peterson, 1:57:51
  3. Chris Brandt, 2:02:20
  4. Larry Smith, 2:08:13
  5. Colby Lash, 2:10:50
  6. Chad Kittles, 2:11:36
  7. Patrich Tevenan, 2:11:44
  8. Kyle Crawley, 2:12:04
  9. Trevor Gerber, 2:16:20
  10. Shae Sallee, 2:17:03

Combined run/bike

  1. Trevor Gerber
  2. Tristan Purdy
  3. Quinn Harnett
  4. Steven Fuller
  5. Nico Plume
  6. Jud Lang
  7. Kevin Kehm

On the Fly column: ‘What are they biting on?’

The most often-asked question in a fly shop is, “What’s hatching out there?”  Here in the Roaring Fork Valley, the answer can be slightly complicated (in a good way). From the ice-cold and pH-balanced Fryingpan to the Crystal, Roaring Fork and everything in between, we are blessed with incredible insect life around here. The answer to the hatch question is best answered by which stream, river or lake the angler is inquiring about.

On the Fryingpan, there is a plethora of bugs hatching through summer.  Mayflies varying from size 10 to 20 are ever-present, consisting of green drakes, pale morning duns, red quills, baetis and plenty of others. Be prepared to encounter caddis in smaller sizes, midges, craneflies, yellow sallies and some terrestrials also. Most people find the Fryingpan to be a bit technical through summer, so be prepared with exact imitations and light tippets to fool these “smart” fish.

The Roaring Fork boasts very good hatches of drakes, yellow sallies, caddis and pale morning duns, with plenty of other bugs mixed in. Many find the crowds to be lighter on these bigger rivers and the fish to be a bit less selective, although personal perception is reality, as they say. The upper reaches of these rivers are best waded and the lower floated. The Crystal has all of these same hatches and is definitely the river to fish if you despise the two-legged hatch.

Most of our lakes have quite a bit of insect life varying from callibaetis, chironomids, scuds and especially damselflies. Not all “trout food” in lakes comes from the water, so keep beetles, ants and especially flying ants handy in those fly boxes. Lake fish aren’t above eating their own, so a few small wooly buggers representing small fry are a good bet, too. 

If you are headed to small high country streams, a few attractor dries and droppers are just about all you need, and you have a chance to see any and all of the hatches mentioned above. So, what’s hatching?  Just about everything you can think of, plus more!

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.

UPDATE: Road to Crystal Mill, townsite reopens after debris cleared

UPDATE, Friday 2:20 p.m. — The road to the Crystal Mill and Townsite (Forest Road 314) is open again Friday afternoon following the debris flows earlier this week. “The debris has been cleared and the road is dry enough for us to reopen it,” White River National Forest Public Information Officer David Boyd said in a news release. The full Lead King Loop is now open for the weekend.


The U.S. Forest Service road accessing the popular Crystal Mill and the south end of the Lead King Loop east of Marble was temporarily closed earlier this week due to flooding impacts from monsoon storms on Monday.

The Aspen-Sopris District of the White River National Forest announced the closure of Forest Service Road 314 on Wednesday.

The closure affected the approximately 4-mile stretch from Daniel’s Hill (intersection with Forest Road 315) to the Crystal Mill where there were more than a dozen debris flows earlier this week, some as deep as 15 feet.

“We are hoping this will be a very short-term closure,” Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Kevin Warner said at the time of the closure, advising users to check the district’s website or call the office before attempting to travel the road.

Crews from the Gunnison County Public Works Department cleared most of the debris on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the road is still extremely muddy and susceptible to significant damage from vehicles, the release states. 

Forest Service Road 315 accessing the northern part of the Lead King Loop also had some debris flows but remained open and is passable with high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles.

Avalanche Creek Road (Forest Road 310) was also impacted by flooding. It is currently passable with most vehicles, but drivers should use caution, the release states.

For the latest information about this closure, call the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District, 970 963-2266 or visit www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver.

Low water levels prompt Rifle Gap State Park to close boat ramps beginning Aug. 15

Declining water levels at Rifle Gap Reservoir have prompted Colorado Parks and Wildlife to close boat ramps at the park starting Aug. 15, six weeks earlier than last year and two-and-a-half months earlier than the normal closure date of Oct. 31, parks officials announced.

“Rifle Gap Reservoir is used primarily for irrigation, and it is typical for water levels to drop dramatically throughout the year,” Rifle State Parks Complex Manager Brian Palcer said in a Thursday news release. “We are still feeling the effects of the unusually dry weather and low reservoir levels from 2021.

“Our hope was that the late season snow would have increased runoff and reservoir water levels this year. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough.”

The final day for inspections and access to the reservoir for trailered watercraft will be Aug. 14. The inspection station will be closed the following day and barriers will be in place.

While the boat ramp will be closed, the reservoir is still open to paddleboards, canoes and kayaks. The campground and picnic area will also remain open, and there’s access to multiple hiking trails and shoreline fishing.

The boat ramp at Harvey Gap Reservoir remains open, however boaters using that facility are reminded that motorized boats are limited to a motor size of 20 horsepower or less. 

For more information, visit CPW’s websites for Rifle Gap State Park and Harvey Gap State Park

Sports Briefs: Strongman competition, New Castle bike and running races this weekend

GarCo Fair strongman (and woman) competition

The fourth Strongest of the Strong competition takes place at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Garfield County Fairgrounds outdoor arena track, as part of the County Fair and Rodeo.

There are weight-class divisions for both men and women. Events include axle press, odd object carry, farmer’s deadlift, arm-over-arm drag/push and Atlas stone to shoulder.

Weigh-ins take place from 3-7 p.m. Friday at 130 N. Ninth St. in Silt. Registration and additional details can be found at ironpodium.com/browse/event/the-strongest-of-the-strong.

The event benefits Brent’s Place for children who are battling cancer, and their families. The event is free for spectators.

For more information, contact Greg Orosz at workharderfit@gmail.com.

New Castle bike and running events

The annual New Castle Rides and Reggae festival this weekend features running and mountain biking competitions on Saturday.

A 10K trail race takes off at 7 a.m. starting at VIX Ranch Park, followed by the Dirty Dozen mountain bike race at 9 a.m. starting from the same location.

The festival includes a variety of reggae bands playing Friday evening and all day Saturday, also at VIX Park. The event is a benefit for the New Castle Trails Group.

GSHS fall sports parent meeting Wednesday

There will be a fall sports parent meeting at Glenwood Springs High School at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the school, 1521 Grand Ave.

School offerings for the fall season include football, volleyball, boys soccer and coed cross country. Parents can online register their athletes at gsdemonsports.com using the athletic registration button. 

Glenwood Community Center tennis courts closure

Three of the four tennis courts at the Glenwood Springs Community Center will be closed for rehabilitation beginning Thursday. Courts 1, 2 and 3 will be closed for approximately three months while crews convert asphalt to post tension concrete, according to a city news release. 

To facilitate construction, there will be a pedestrian detour around the front of the Community Center to the rear where the courts are located. Pedestrians and bicyclists should follow posted signage. Additionally, the northeast Community Center parking lot will be used as a temporary construction staging area, the release states.

In the meantime, court 4 remains open this season, and courts are also available at Sayre and Veltus parks for public drop-in use.

Intermittent closures of Community Center court 4 may be required for safety. For additional court guidelines, visit https://www.glenwoodrec.com/208/Guidelines

Temporary tennis lines are be added to courts 1, 2 and 3 at the end of the construction, and crews are to return in 2023 to paint. Next year, court 4 will be resurfaced and painted with both tennis and pickleball lines, the release states.

Pyro’s Push It Up trail races coming Aug. 13

The eighth annual Pyro’s “Push It Up” 3.5K, 7.7K and 13K trail races take place Aug. 13 on the East Elk Creek trail network north of New Castle.

The race is held each year in memory of Capt. William “Pyro” DuBois, who died when his F16 crashed while he was serving in the Middle East in 2014.

Race details and and a link to the registration website at facebook.com/pyrostrailrun/.

Dog Day 5K for CARE is Aug. 20

The Dog Day 5K race to support the shelter pets at Colorado Animal Rescue takes place Aug. 20 at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs. Registration opens at 8 a.m., with a 9 a.m. race start.

Well-behaved dogs are welcome (good on leash, around other dogs and people, etc.). Register online at coloradoanimalrescue.org through Aug. 19, or on site the morning of the event. The race fee is $30 for adults and $15 for kids (under 12).

On the Fly column: There’s no place like home

Besides hiking, golf, cycling, kayaking and all the other distractions this valley has to offer, fly fishing can be a very relaxing way to spend your day.  Even if you’ve never fished the Roaring Fork Valley, there are a bunch of great places to explore and wild trout to meet out there during the summer months. 

If you are visiting and don’t have any gear, most fly shops from Glenwood Springs to Aspen offer rental gear as well as top-notch guide services to maximize your time on our rivers, streams and lakes.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to where and when to go, as you can choose between intimate small streams, high country lakes and our world-famous gold medal waters. Any shop in the valley would love the opportunity to spread out a map on the counter and show you their favorite haunts, including what to use and how to fish the flies they recommend.  Finding great water is easy here; getting a license for the day or the week is even easier.

If solitude and wild cutthroats or brook trout are your speed, be sure to check out the upper Crystal River, Avalanche Creek or Rocky Fork Creek while here in the valley.  If it’s all about dry fly hatches and gold medal water, this is the time to be on the Fryingpan with a few green drake and pale morning dun patterns in your vest.

One caveat — the Colorado River is under a 24-hour closure as of late, due to warm and de-oxygenated water. Everything in the upper sections of the valley is cold and just fine.

Even if you have never fly fished, I guarantee (with the right advice and/or guide) you can have a blast on our rivers and lakes. Bring along some sunscreen, a few flies, and take in the gorgeous scenery we love to call home. You won’t regret it.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.

Toews, Worline win Mount Sopris Runoff 14-mile crowns; Garrard breaks 4-mile record

Saturday morning, the Carbondale Mountain Fair played host to the 43rd annual Mount Sopris Runoff 14-miler, and its little sister, the 4-Mile Fair Run. Both races, with a total of 83 runners between them, finished right in the heart of the Mountain Fair at Sopris Park.

Wesley Toews of New Castle, proving why he is one of the area’s most highly regarded runners, captured the title in the longer version of the day’s races, hitting the finish tape in 1 hour and 32 minutes. Toews was forced to keep his foot on the accelerator until the very end, with the closing speed of second place Finn Leahy reducing the final margin of victory to just 30 seconds.

“This is the fifth time I have done this race, and today’s time was my slowest ever,” said Toews, who was the 10K winner at the Maggie’s Mountain Run at the Argonaut Farm a few weeks back. “This is the first time I have won it, though, so I’ll take it.”

Leahy, who runs collegiately at Whitman College in Washington state, was timed at 1:32:30.

The women’s 14-mile winner was former Glenwood Demon track and cross country standout Emily Worline. Worline, who will be entering her senior season running for Westminster College in Salt Lake City, had a time of 1:49:07, which was 10 minutes better than her Sopris Runoff time last summer.

Emily Worline of Glenwood Springs was the top female finisher in the 14-mile Mt. Sopris Runoff Saturday morning at the 51st Carbondale Mountain Fair.
John Stroud/Post Independent

“I go back to school here in a few weeks, and I just wanted to get in a challenging longer run before cross country practice starts,” said Worline, who also played basketball for the Demons. “And what a beautiful race this is.”

The day’s showstopper was without a doubt 4-Mile winner Justin Garrard, who set a course record with a blistering time of 18 minutes, 28 seconds. Garrard is coming off a Strawberry Days triple, with victories in the Strawberry Shortcut 10K, 5K and 1 mile all in the same morning on June 19.

“It’s Mountain Fair, and it’s a great opportunity to be out among friends,” said Garrard, who has qualified to run in the USA 20K championships over Labor Day weekend in New Haven, Connecticut. “Plus, this is a nice, fast course.”

This December in Sacramento, Garrard will attempt to qualify for the United States Olympic trials marathon at the California International Marathon. He will need to run a 2 hour, 18 minute time or better to do so.

Second place in the 4-Miler was Glenwood’s Josh Hejtmanek, who is a regular on the podium at local running events. Hejtmanek claimed second, but his 2-year old daughter, Charlotte, came in just ahead of him in the stroller Josh was pushing throughout the race. Hejtmanek’s time was 25:46.

The women’s winner, and placing eighth overall, was Megan Ravenscraft with a time of 29:53. Second for the ladies, and 10th overall at 30:27, was Kessiah Carlbon.

There were 48 runners in the 4-Mile and 35 participants in the 14-mile. The race was put on by Independence Run and Hike in Carbondale.

Top 10 Overall Finishers (*Denotes Female)

14-Mile: 1. Wesley Toews, 1 hour, 32 minutes; 2. Finn Leahy, 1:32:30; 3. Nico Plume, 1:40:16; 4. Sean Nesbitt, 1:40:49; 5. Chris Green, 1:42:24; 6. Chris Bridges, 1:46:11; 7. *Emily Worline, 1:49:07; 8. Quinn Harnett, 1:50:28; 9. Dave Rasmussen, 1:51:08; 10. Matt Dumbulin, 1:55:11.

4-Mile: 1. Justin Garrard, 18 minutes, 28 seconds; 2. Josh Hejtmanek (& Charlotte), 25:46; 3. Will Rose, 28:06; 4. Hank Zimmerman, 28:22; 5. John Stroud, 28:36; 6. 29:13 (no name on finish tag); 7. Brad Palmer, 29:47; 8. *Megan Ravenscraft, 29:53; 9. Mark Feinsinger, 30:07; 10. *Kessiah Carlbon, 30:27.

On the Fly column: The state of the fishery

They say that history may not always repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Low flows and warm water concerns are back again this year in the lower-elevation parts of the valley.  

The majority of the Roaring Fork Valley is still (and will remain) on the menu for anglers, when you consider the myriad small streams, creeks, lakes, reservoirs and the ever-cold tailwater. The Fryingpan will always run 40 degrees under the dam, and the upper reaches of the Crystal and Roaring Fork will remain cold all summer as well. For the wade angler, most of what you enjoy fishing will continue to fish well all summer long.

The elephant in the room is concerning temperatures, flows and oxygen content downvalley on the Colorado River and increasingly on the lower Roaring Fork. Keep in mind that this could all change with boosted Fryingpan flows and cool monsoonal trends if we get lucky. That being said, the writing is already on the wall considering the below-average river volumes.

Most of you already know the Colorado River is under 24-hour voluntary closure all the way downstream to Rifle, due to warm and deoxygenated water.

CPW-22-Colorado-Closure

If the lower Roaring Fork gets too hot, local fly shops and the Roaring Fork Fishing Guide Alliance have agreed to reel it up and cease fishing in the afternoons on the lower river. This may become an official afternoon-only voluntary closure from Colorado Parks and Wildlife soon, but most local guides are already being proactive to protect this precious resource.

We can all do our part by using a stream thermometer, focusing on higher-up and colder fisheries, and making sure the fish we catch have regained their equilibrium before they swim away.

Misinformation abounds during these voluntary closures — many people believe you can’t fish anywhere, which is certainly not the case. The moral of the story is when in doubt, you should head up in elevation, pay attention to temperatures, don’t play fish to exhaustion and enjoy your time on the water while putting the fish first.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.

On the Fly column: The world is your oyster

If you are visiting the Roaring Fork Valley this week, excellent fishing opportunities await. Even if you left all your gear at home or have never fished before, don’t despair — many fly shops up and down the valley are itching to help you out. Most shops offer rental gear as well as guide services, and there are hundreds of miles of rivers to choose from, including high mountain lakes and smaller streams.

If you have never fly fished here in the valley, hiring a guide for your first outing makes a lot of sense. Guides know these rivers like the backs of their hands, and they will be able to find a piece of water that is appropriate for your skill level and physical abilities. Most guided trips are fishing deep (nymphing) in the morning hours and transitioning to dry flies as the river warms and the sun climbs a little higher in the afternoon.

There are also options for walk and wade fishing or float fishing from a drift boat or raft. Wade fishing is usually more appropriate for beginners, and float fishing is a little more fast-paced. When you fish with guides, all of your gear is usually provided as well. If you swing by your local fly shop, they would be happy to let you know what they’re fishing as well as where and how.

If you are here doing a little DIY, look for midges, pale morning duns, craneflies, blue winged olives and caddis up the Fryingpan. The Roaring Fork has some drakes hatching in Aspen and down valley to Carbondale, and the Colorado has been fishing quite well with yellow sallies, caddis and stoneflies. High mountain lakes always offer up terrific damselfly fishing throughout the summer. Wherever you end up on our rivers, we hope you have some fun and get a chance to stop and smell the roses.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.

REI readies to enter Glenwood Springs outdoor retail market

A week and one day before its official opening, the new REI Co-op store in south Glenwood Springs resembles an outdoor education teaching lab.

Near the front of the 20,300-square-foot space at the Roaring Fork Marketplace that formerly housed Office Depot (3216 S. Glen Ave., Suite A), a group of new REI employees is learning how to instruct and help customers in purchasing a suitable backpack.

Another group in the back of the store is boning up on the various shoe brands; another is learning how to pair customers with the right mountain bike and accessories; another is learning everything there is to know about camping gear; ditto for paddle sports.

The front counter is lined with soon-to-be check-out clerks getting trained on the computer system.

Employees will take part in a “Friends and Family Night” trial run on Wednesday to practice their newly honed customer service and sales skills. The store opens with a three-day grand opening celebration Friday through Sunday, July 22-24, including giveaways and an outdoor social from 1-5 p.m. each afternoon with music and an outdoor gear festival showcasing numerous brands.

It’s all part of REI’s hands-on, “see, feel, touch” approach to outfitting its customers that new Glenwood Springs store manager Jace Harms said sets REI apart in the outdoor recreation retail industry.

The new REI Co-op store is set to have its grand opening in Glenwood Springs Friday through Sunday, July 22-24.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“It’s part of our legacy as an outdoor outfitter, to really work to service everybody who comes in the doors, and we put that into action every day,” said Harms, who has been employed by the member-owned co-op for four years.

The Nebraska native joined up with the company after moving to Dallas out of college about 10 years ago. He worked at the Dallas flagship store before jumping at the chance to manage the new Glenwood Springs store.

“It was an opportunity for me to get a little bit closer to home and where I grew up, while also providing that outdoor playground that we all enjoy,” Harms said. “This community continues to embrace and remind me of the small, rural town where I grew up, and it’s refreshing to be in a community where you know people’s names and are able to engage and give back to the community.”

Already, since arriving in March, Harms said he volunteered for a Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers trail work crew at Carbondale’s Red Hill trail area. 

RFOV was also one of four local organizations benefiting from the first round of REI Gives grants, totaling $20,000. The others were the Wilderness Workshop, Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association and Gay for Good.

Hiring up

Glenwood Springs REI store manager Jace Harms, center, listens in during a training session for new employees on backpacks at the new store, set to open July 22.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

The Glenwood Springs store, because of its smaller size compared to the urban flagship stores, and because of its launching-point location for outdoor fun, is classified as a “gateway” store.

It’s similar in size and product categories to REI stores in Dillon, which opened in 2017, and the Grand Junction store, which opened in 2000, then relocated and expanded some a few years ago.  

Surprisingly, though hiring the staff of between 45 and 54 needed to run the Glenwood store has been challenging in the area’s tight labor market, Harms said they’re currently at 41 employees.

“One of the things that has kept me with REI is that, at the center of everything we do is the people,” he said. “We value and pride ourselves on taking care of our people at every turn. So, responding to the local hiring climate, to make sure that we are showing up competitively, is part of that.”

REI also has a focus on hiring locally among existing outdoors enthusiasts as much as possible, because they are the resident experts who are best suited to provide advice on where to go locally to recreate and what kind of gear is best, Harms said.

“Whether trying a new activity or heading out on a familiar trail or waterway, we aspire to be at the center of people’s outdoor lives for products and expertise,” he said.

Incentives for employees include a one-time, $300 hiring bonus and a paid day off starting day one so that they can go out and recreate themselves, Harms said. And, companywide starting in 2023, there will no longer be a minimum hours requirement for employees to receive health insurance benefits, he said.

REI Glenwood is still looking for full- and part-time retail sales associates; info on the REI jobs page.

Outdoor retail co-habitation

Harms said REI knows it’s not the end-all, be-all when it comes to outdoor gear, especially in smaller communities that already have an established outdoor culture.

While the new REI store features gear and apparel for hiking, camping, paddling, cycling, running, fitness and snowsports, and a specialty bike and ski/snowboard shop for tuning and repairing equipment, there are niche areas that still fall to others.

“We have every intention when a customer says, ‘Oh, you don’t have a climb department,’ or ‘You don’t have that brand,’ we can say, ‘No, but you know who does, is Summit Canyon, or Treadz, or Hookers, or Sunlight, or Factory Outdoor,’” Harms said. 

Summit Canyon Mountaineering store manager Emma Hunnicutt said that having an established presence and loyal customer base is important.

“As for the addition of REI, we are feeling positive about the future and are continuously grateful for the support of our locals, who are like family to us,” she said. 

Hunnicutt noted that Summit Canyon has been outfitting locals and visitors for outdoor adventures since 1978, “and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon,” she said.

“We are excited to be getting back to our roots and have been working on expanding our climbing and mountaineering departments, as well as offerings in pretty much every category,” Hunnicutt said. “Summit is more than just a store, it’s a fixture within the community.”

For REI’s part, Harms said the store recently joined the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and is hoping to plug into the business community in other ways.

“One of my goals is to meet those business partners and see how we can support each other, whether that’s through stewardship and partnering to do a trail project or trash pickups, or whatever,” Harms said.

As for outdoor recreation demand locally, with a large population base in the Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County, and some 2.2 million tourists visiting the area every year, “We believe there’s plenty of outside to go around for everybody,” he said.   

REI also has more than 1.1 million lifetime co-op members in Colorado.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.