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Common Ground

Now that we have more snow than we have had for a few years, it’s a good time to go snowshoeing. The fact that the bitter cold weather has let up is added incentive.

Since walking has always been my favorite mode of transportation, snowshoeing gives me the exercise I need at the pace that fits my aging and often aching bones.

But folks any age, as long as they can walk, will enjoy this sport.



Though there are places right outside our door to walk across the snow, last week I chose to head upvalley. Turning up Castle Creek outside Aspen, Ashcroft was the destination.

Set in one of the prettiest valleys anywhere any time of year, Ashcroft offers a variety of winter wandering. You can rent snowshoes or cross-country skis at the old King Cabin where the snowplowing ends and a good-size parking lot begins.



By special use permit with the White River National Forest, Ashcroft can boast of being the first self-sustaining cross-country ski area in the United States.

There is a small charge if you choose to ski the groomed trails of the ski touring company. Or you can do as my friend and I did and head on up the road to the Pine Creek Cookhouse.

You don’t even need snowshoes for the less-than-two-mile walk to the newly built and recently opened eatery. A gas explosion destroyed the old Pine Creek Cookhouse, which I took my older daughters to back in 1985. There is no comparison to the beautiful new log structure.

You can walk in from the cold and be served in the bar area without reservations. But I wouldn’t go there for the dining experience without calling first. When you do phone, ask about the horse-drawn sleigh ride you can take to get there from Ashcroft.

One warning is in order. If you decide to go further up the valley, a huge avalanche chute awaits you not far past the cookhouse. A few years back it came crashing down over the road and took the life of an unsuspecting lady.

Personally, I don’t snowshoe in avalanche-prone areas. Play it safe and enjoy the sport in the rest of the outdoors where it is safe.

Our walk back to the ghost town of Ashcroft ended too quickly. On the National Register of Historic Places, Ashcroft was founded in 1880 on dreams of quick riches from silver mining.

In a few short years the town went from almost 3,000 souls to less than 100 residents to its present status as a historic ghost town. During the summer, Heritage Aspen and Aspen Center for Environmental Studies help manage the site.

Walking tours are given for a small fee during the summer also beginning around June, depending on when the snow melts.

The Toklat Art Gallery, also in Ashcroft, is owned by the Mace family.

Content with a good day of winter wonder, we climbed into the car and headed back home.

” Writing from 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week.


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