| PostIndependent.com

Sports briefs: Turkey trots abound for an active start to your Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving morning turkey trot fun runs of varying distances are being planned for Rifle, Carbondale and Basalt on Thursday morning. Here’s the lineup:

Basalt Elementary hosts Gobble Wobble

Basalt Elementary School hosts its fifth annual Gobble Wobble fundraiser for STEM and other supplemental programming at the school, starting at 9:30 a.m., with race-day registration getting underway outside the school at 8:30 a.m.

“The Gobble Wobble has been a tremendous funding source for our Parent Engagement Group,” BES Principal Grant Waaler said. “Having such an upbeat and active outdoor event involving the entire community embodies many character traits that we strive to instill in our young students.”

Participants can register online at bit.ly/basaltgobble and can choose to either complete the 5K run or a 1 mile fun run. The cost to register individually is $20 per adult and $10 per child. A family of up to five can register and receive a capped entry fee of $50.

The first 100 adults to register receive a swag gift; the first 60 children that register will receive a Pop-It. All who register receive a prize drawing ticket.

Carbondale Turkey Trot

The Carbondale Recreation Department puts on the annual Carbondale Turkey Trot 5K or 1-Mile fun run, beginning at 9:30 a.m. outside the Rec Center.

Race day registration starts at 9 a.m., or register online at carbondalerec.com. Cost is $12 for adults, $7 for youth ages 3-17 and seniors 62 and older.

Rifle High School Turkey Trot

Rifle High School hosts its annual Turkey Trot 5K beginning at Deerfield Park, 300 E. 30th St. Little Gobblers run at 9:15 a.m., Big Gobblers at 9:30 a.m.

The event serves as a fundraiser for the RHS track team. Cost is $30 for individuals, or $100 for the family. Info at RacePlace.com/Rifle High School Turkey Trot.

“Last year we had participants from states that included Arizona and Texas,” according to the event website. “We are excited for the opportunity to host a community/country event and get people out and about to enjoy this great holiday together.”

Burn the Turkey 5K

For some post-Thanksgiving calorie burning, Anytime Fitness on Colorado Highway 82 between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale hosts its third Burn the Turkey 5K at 10 a.m. Friday.

Canned food and cash donations go to LIFT-UP for its food assistance programs. Enjoy a beer at Ball Brewery afterwards.

On the Fly column: Finding your magic

A local brown trout. Kara Moore/courtesy photo

Fly-fishing serves different people in different ways. For many, getting out on the river and being immersed in nature is all one needs, using the time as a meditation, and landing a fish is just a bonus. Others are addicted to the tug, and will drive miles on end for a chance to tangle with a trophy fish. It is hard to deny that fly fishing holds magic, but where one sees it differs from person to person.

Floating down the Roaring Fork as the sun slowly drops below the mountains while our famous green drakes pour off the river is nirvana for some. Other anglers might say floating is a little too fast-paced, and prefer the beauty of what they find while wading; appreciating the stillness, the sound of the river and listening to the wildlife sing their sweet song throughout the seasons.

Some anglers might find our local rivers in summertime a little too crowded for their liking, and resort to using their feet to go the extra mile, where they can find paradise in the high country. Catching trophy fish is not a concern to those who search for the magic above tree line. Throwing hoppers in crystal-clear streams or pristine mountain lakes for eager cutthroats and brook trout can be as good as it gets. Winter dry fly fishing on the Fryingpan with no crowds is a draw for many as well.

When it comes down to it, fly-fishing is a little more than just fishing. For all of us who call the Roaring Fork Valley home, we are doubly blessed with the amount of public land and water we are able to explore throughout the year. For instance, we have the opportunity to be able to ski our world-famous mountains in the morning and fish Gold Medal waters in the afternoon; let’s just say we are pretty darn lucky. Wouldn’t you agree?

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: Life is short, change is constant

Scott Spooner on the Roaring Fork River. Christian Hill/Courtesy Photo

Sometimes breakups are inevitable in the world of fly fishing. Most of us have a built-in tendency to “dance with the one that brought us,” and are almost loyal to a fault. These breakups may be with your now less-than-favorite fly rod, a certain pattern that has always been your old reliable, the way you rig your flies, those darn leaky waders or even a fishing spot that doesn’t produce like it used to. The only reliable thing in this world is that all things, for the most part, tend to change.

Embracing change makes us better anglers. If you’re fortunate enough to have fished the Fryingpan River since the 1900s, you already know the flies that used to work (before fishing pressure increased exponentially and flows became susceptible to the mood swings of decades-long severe drought) now evince near-sarcasm from those PhD finned friends of ours. The size 12 Brown Hackle Peacocks that were your never-miss flies in the ’80s have all been replaced by Chocolate Thunders, Bling Midges and Roy Boys in a Lilliputian size 22 in these modern times.

Changing your mind doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world, either. We’ve all spent a small fortune on a rod we thought would be a game changer, just to find out we despise the action or the length. Just because you were a Tibor and RL Winston devotee doesn’t mean you can’t switch your gear over to Abel and Sage, if that’s what you want to do. There are no rules, and life is too short to fish with gear you can’t stand or have outgrown.

Speaking of change, rivers change more than you would expect; anyone who tells you they know every bend, nook and cranny is full of it. Pools fill in during runoff, new channels appear, and fish can relocate. If you’re not feeling the love, it’s OK to break up and move on. There’s a fish out there somewhere — ready to make a bad decision and eat your well-presented fly.

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.

Weed calendar opens window to Garfield County agriculture, vegetation management efforts

“Fall Gathering” is a painting by artist Lanny Grant that’s featured in the 2022 Weeds of Garfield County calendar.
Garfield County Vegetation Management/Courtesy

Though “weed” has taken on a different meaning in Colorado over the past decade or so, most rural counties have whole departments dedicated to educating landowners about the noxious varieties and how to control them.

If you want to get to know your Colorado weeds a bit better — complete with a gorgeous scenic photo of the month from the Garfield County countryside — just pick up a copy of the annual Weeds of Garfield County calendar.

The 2022 version is now available for free at all Garfield County Public Library District branches and the county administration buildings in Glenwood Springs and Rifle.

Steve Anthony has been Garfield County’s vegetation manager since 1999. For several years, he worked with the nonprofit Colorado Big Country Resource Conservation and Development Council to produce a statewide weed calendar.

That project was eventually turned over to the Colorado Weed Management Association, but after a few years of not doing it, Anthony said he missed it.

So about eight years ago he got permission from the county commissioners to produce Garfield County’s very own weed calendar. His department had a budget set aside for community outreach, education and awareness, and the calendar seemed like a good way to accomplish that.

“It’s a pretty good tool to, in a subtle way, get weeds out there in the vocabulary of people and increase awareness,” he said.

Each month features an image taken by a local photographer or painted by a local artist of scenic landscapes, residents, wildlife and livestock.

Accompanying each photo and monthly calendar is information about various noxious weeds, how to prevent them from spreading, best agricultural practices, wildfire recovery, what’s edible — if that’s your thing — and how to be careful to avoid dangerous look-alikes when out foraging.

For instance, the February entry tells of Queen Anne’s Lace, or wild carrot, which is popular with foragers. Beware its relative, poison hemlock, though.

There’s also a bit of Garfield County agriculture history featured in the calendar, including a January tribute to the Coffman family of Carbondale, who recently sold their ranch to the Aspen Valley Land Trust in order to maintain its ranching heritage.

The Grizzly Creek Fire behind the Spring Valley Schoolhouse by photographer Ann Driggers is featured in the 2022 Weeds of Garfield County calendar.
Garfield County Vegetation Management/Courtesy

Garfield County Vegetation Management Program Coordinator Sarah LaRose is in charge of lining up the artistic content for the calendar each year.

“In the past, we’ve hired photographers to go out and take pictures that we wanted to feature, but two years ago we started doing it as a photo contest and asked people to submit their photos,” LaRose said.

Featured photographers for 2022 are Todd Patrick, Tommy Sands, Chalana Wilson, Shania McCain, Ann Driggers, LaRose and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent’s own Chelsea Self.

The project has also expanded in recent years to include several paintings by local artist Lanny Grant.

“A lot of the photos illustrate the different vectors for weed-seed spreading throughout the county, like hay and cattle operations, and what they do to control weed spread,” LaRose said.

“I absolutely love it,” she said. “It’s probably the most favorite part of my job. It’s great education for landowners, because many people don’t realize how noxious weeds affect their lives and how they might be spreading weeds without even realizing it.”

A Garfield County hay operation by photographer Sarah LaRose is featured in the 2022 Weeds of Garfield County calendar.
Garfield County Vegetation Management/Courtesy

Anthony said Garfield County is constantly seeing new, non-native plants coming into the region and discovering ones that have been here for awhile but are just now propagating.

Colorado has a noxious weed list including about 100 plants with varying degrees of concern for spread. Garfield County has about 40 of them present, he said.

The Colorado Weed Management Association continues to produce an annual weed calendar, but not many other counties have their own, so Garfield County is unique in that sense, Anthony said.

“A lot of counties have gone more to social media for their education and outreach, and others do a brochure,” he said. “Every county’s approach is a little different.”

Garfield County this year printed 2,000 weed calendars — double that produced during the pandemic last year — and they’re going fast, Anthony said.

For more information, contact the Garfield County Vegetation Management Department at 970-945-1377, ext. 4305 or 4315.

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

On the Fly column: Shorter days, cooler nights put trout in feeding frenzy

A Fryingpan River spawning bed, which all fishermen try to avoid during fall to encourage healthy natural reproduction. Scott Spooner/Courtesy photo

The shorter days and cooler temperatures of autumn kick our trout into high gear as they sense these changes, and a primal urge to feed on anything and everything takes over. This especially applies to the thousands of brown trout here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Fall brings spawning season every year for brown trout, and they begin to pair up and create beds to spawn. Females will brush the river bottom with their tails to create a clean area for procreation; usually, shallow and gravelly bottomed areas are preferred.

Once eggs are deposited on the river bottom, males fertilize them and tend to guard the bed with a vengeance. When you come across these clean beds (redds) this fall, be sure to give them a wide berth and cross downstream of them, if you need to cross the river. When we cross upstream of these beds, we cover the eggs with mud and moss, which prevents the eggs from fertilizing and developing properly.

As we mentioned last week, fall is the absolute best time to cast larger flies (streamers) here in the valley. This is primarily because of these aggressive behaviors that come along with spawning, in addition to the shorter days and cooler nights triggering the need to bulk up as reliable food sources begin to wane. The days of size-10 green drakes are over, and soon there won’t be much forage besides the occasional midge or winter stonefly for local trout.

As fall takes over here in the valley, be sure to spend some days on your favorite section of river. A riffle or pool that was a little slow over the past few weeks just might surprise you. Keep an eye out for those beds, give them a wide berth, and enjoy the beauty of autumn out there.

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.

Colorado Mountain College president Carrie Hauser found her dream job

Carrie Besnette Hauser, president of Colorado Mountain College, is shown at the Spring Valley campus south of Glenwood Springs. The institution stretches across much of the state’s central mountain region. One of Hauser’s accomplishments this year is a federal designation for the college as a Hispanic Serving Institution after efforts that increased its Latino representation to more than 25%.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Carrie Besnette Hauser considers her position as president of Colorado Mountain College to be a dream job.

“I’ve described it as a confluence, using a river term,” says the longtime river-running enthusiast. “It’s in Colorado, which I love. It’s the mountains, and it’s college.”

Hauser has embraced all three words in the name of Colorado Mountain College, which stretches across much of the state’s central mountain region, including Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties.

This summer, though, she celebrated a particular accomplishment regarding that middle word, “mountain,” achieving a new milestone in her avocation as a mountaineer by summiting the iconic and glaciated 14,410-foot-high Mount Rainier in Washington state.

It follows other climbing successes that include summiting 56 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado, and 19,340-foot Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa. She also has trekked to Mount Everest base camp, at some 17,600 feet in Nepal.

Meanwhile, Hauser recently rose to prominence of a different sort, voted by the Colorado Wildlife Commission to serve as its chair until 2023. Her new position comes at a particularly pivotal time for the commission and CPW as they work to implement a measure approved by voters last year requiring wolves to be restored to western Colorado starting no later than the end of 2023.

“As much as it is a significant time commitment, I felt like during this year it was important for the Western Slope that a person from the Western Slope be a chair for the commission,” she said.

Hauser also has played a leadership role on another statewide issue of note, having been involved in efforts to bring the Olympic Games to Colorado.

It’s yet another reflection of someone with a longtime interest in outdoors and sports carrying those passions forward in her professional life and service to community.

Rabid about rapids

Even before Hauser became a gym rat in high school as a serious basketball and volleyball player, she was a river rat on the Colorado River. When growing up in Flagstaff, Arizona, her dad would take her on Grand Canyon hikes down to the Colorado River.

“Then he took me on a river trip when I was 12 or so, and I was totally hooked,” she said.

She later began working for Grand Canyon river-running company Hatch River Expeditions as a swamper, an entry-level worker who cooked, tended to porta-potties, led hikes, and on occasion rowed or drove boats.

“I just wanted to be in the Grand. That was all I wanted to do,” Hauser said.

Later on, though, she embarked on a professional career that took her to the Front Range, where one of her jobs was with the Daniels Fund. There, she served as a loaned executive whose work included time on the Metro Denver Sports Commission board to attract big sporting events. She co-chaired the women’s Final Four NCAA basketball tournament in Denver.

“As a former basketball player, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” Hauser said.

As for the Olympics, Hauser was part of an exploratory committee that went to the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, when Denver was pursuing hosting the 2018 Winter Games.

She later was involved in a Denver bid for the 2030 Winter Games. Neither effort succeeded, because of a variety of factors.

It doesn’t help that Denver was awarded the 1976 Games, but state voters rejected holding them in Colorado over concerns about costs and environmental impacts.

”That’s a hard one to overcome in the Olympic movement,” Hauser said.

‘Historic’ wolf work

Hauser became president at Colorado Mountain College in 2013. She recalls advice she received around that time from Russell George, the Rifle resident who has served roles including speaker of the state House of Representatives, director of what was then the state Division of Wildlife, executive director of the state departments of Natural Resources and Transportation, and president of Colorado Northwestern Community College.

“He said, ‘Say yes to everything,’” Hauser said.

The point was that stepping up to serve in capacities such as on state boards is a way for the Western Slope to have a seat at the table, and Hauser viewed agreeing to serve on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission as one way of doing that.

She sees the wolf-reintroduction situation as one where it’s important for all interested Coloradans to have a seat at the table to voice their views, from ranchers worried about what reintroduction will mean for their operations to Front Range residents excited by science suggesting wolves can help balance ecosystems.

”One way or the other (reintroduction) will be a very historic thing for Colorado, and I hope that we do it well,” Hauser said.

In her day job, Hauser has been involved with initiatives such as boosting representation of Latinos in CMC’s student body to better reflect the proportion in public schools in the college’s district.

This year, the federal government designated CMC as a Hispanic Serving Institution after efforts that increased its Latino representation to more than 25%.

A Sueños (Dream) Fund program allows DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students not eligible for other financial aid to borrow money from CMC to pay to go to college.

The recipients then pay the money back interest-free through an income-sharing agreement, and the repaid money is used for other participants in the program.

Hauser also created a President’s Scholarship program, under which every graduating high school student in CMC’s district is offered $1,000 toward attending the open-enrollment school, as long as they agree to attend full time and apply for financial aid. Hauser said full-time students are far likelier to finish school, and students leave money on the table by failing to seek financial aid. These are issues the scholarship helps to address.

Peak achievements

Colorado Mountain College President Carrie Besnette Hauser accomplished an incredible feat earlier this year, summiting Mount Rainier with CMC faculty member Dr. Jon Kedrowski, who recently summited Mount Everest for the second time. Hauser is an avid outdoorswoman who has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro and climbed to Mount Everest base camp and is nearing completion of Colorado’s 58 highest peaks (14ers).
Colorado Mountain College/Courtesy photo

For anyone counting peaks — as climbers of Colorado’s Fourteeners tend to do obsessively — 24 of the state’s 14,000-foot-plus peaks are in CMC’s district. Hauser has climbed some of the state’s Fourteeners with her husband Jeff, including a particularly memorable one, Challenger Peak, 12 years ago.

When they summited, Jeff Hauser asked Carrie to sit down for a minute, and then asked her to marry him.

“His question for me was, ‘Are you up for a lifetime of challenges?’” she recalls.

On Rainier, her climbing partner was Jon Kedrowski, a geographer, CMC adjunct professor, and also a mountain guide who this year also summited Mount Everest for his second time.

The memories of the Rainier challenges and the mountain itself are plentiful for Hauser, such as ominously hearing rocks and ice falling at night as she tried to sleep at a camp during the ascent.

But Hauser was particularly struck by a serendipitous encounter during the descent when she and Kedrowski began talking with a fellow climber they met, Don Nguyen.

They learned that he’s a mountain guide who cofounded a nonprofit called Climbers of Color — and was a student in CMC’s Outdoor Recreation Leadership program at its Leadville campus.

“His first comment to Jon and me was, ‘I would never be a professional guide if it wasn’t for CMC.’ Uh — OK, job done, mic drop,” Hauser said with a laugh. “That was pretty cool.”

George is impressed by the contribution Hauser makes to CMC and is glad she is chair of the wildlife commission, not just because of the wolf issue, though he thinks she’s well-suited to play a strong leadership role handling that.

“She’s one of my absolute favorite people. I have as much regard for her as anybody. She’s brilliant, she’s dedicated, she means to do well, and she’s got the goods to do it,” he said.

This article first appeared in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and is being reprinted by permission in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

On the Fly column: Changes are afoot

a local rainbow trout
Taylor Creek Fly Shop/Courtesy

Fishing the Roaring Fork Valley during fall is the stuff of dreams, at least for me. This goes for the Crystal, Roaring Fork and Fryingpan rivers, and everything in between. The shorter periods of light touching the water and the dip in water and air temperatures causes something special to happen.

Big fish are all of the sudden showing up in the runs that you fished all summer, and they weren’t there last week. These fish have been elusive up until now. Winter, whether it’s your first or fifth as a trout, looms near, and the abundant insect delights of summer won’t be around much longer. They sense it. Gone are the big bugs of summer, giving way to the now-more-prevalent tiny midges and blue wing olive mayflies.

Big browns are on the move and are starting their annual spawning rituals, and the days finally return to seeing far more fish than other fishermen. Everything changes quickly up here in autumn, and the fish take notice. I’d re-position those streamer and midge boxes toward the front pockets of your vest or waist pack. Autumn float fishing can certainly be sublime; I certainly enjoy a day of throwing streamers after a summer full of dry flies on tiny, fragile tippet.

You can sight-fish the Fryingpan to your heart’s delight, and those deeper sections of the Roaring Fork yield strike after strike from hard fighting trout and whitefish alike. The fishing is still fantastic, with good opportunities for fishing dries, nymphs and streamers among beautiful surroundings without the crowds of summer we see on these bustling rivers.

This is the time of year to think about giving back, as well. Find that co-worker or local kid whose eyes lit up when they learned that you fly fish. Show them the right way to go about it, learning proper technique and river etiquette. If they’re anything like you, you’ll have handed them a gift that constantly keeps on giving regardless of age, physical ability or orientation. Enjoy the gift of fall out there.

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: Time, depth and technique

A drift boat floats the Roaring Fork.
Louis Cahill Photography/Courtesy

Leaves are dropping, and angling pressure certainly has dropped off, too. The peace of offseason is seemingly resonating softly throughout the valley. This time of year, with lower water flows and cooler weather, anglers should take note of numerous factors to continue their success on local waters. This past week float and wade fishing throughout the valley has remained quite consistent.

The factors anglers need to be considering as we move into shorter and cooler days will be to focus on the slower, deeper pools and get your flies down deep during nonhatch periods. Water temperatures have been cooling off, and trout will begin to seek the warmth of slower, deeper pools and runs. This cooling off also reduces their activity periods throughout the day. Thus, late morning through early afternoon is generally the best time to target fish. This is not to say that you cannot have good fishing earlier or later, but bankers’ hours will be most consistent day in and day out.

Stay on the technical side of things with your flies, leader and tippets. Low, slow and clear water means tiny 18-22 midge and baetis patterns attached to 5X, 6X and 7X tippets. Plenty of weight will bounce your offerings along the bottom where fish will be stacked up. Overall, the key to finding fish throughout the fall is time, depth and technique. The only variable to this will be swinging or stripping streamers to produce some more violent takes.

Favorite technical patterns are Blings, Freestone Emergers, Foam Top RS2s and Roy Boys. For the meaty streamer stuff, try Autumn Splendors, Dungeons, Meal Tickets and Exasperators. Stop in your favorite shop and get the inside scoop for the day, have them write you a sick note and go enjoy some hot fall fishing.

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.


Tracing the source: Forest Service experiment seeks to pinpoint Hanging Lake headwaters

Senior Project Scientist Dave Woods introduces dye at East Fork Deadhorse Creek. The tracing dye will work its way into the underlying formation in significantly diluted quantities to be detected in parts per trillion by the charcoal samplers placed downstream.
Erin Dundas/White River National Forest

The fire, floods and massive debris flows of the past year in Glenwood Canyon could help answer an aeons-old question — where exactly does the underground source of water that feeds Hanging Lake begin?

The U.S. Forest Service is working with scientific consultants from the renowned Ozark Underground Laboratory out of southwest Missouri to conduct an experiment that may answer that very question once and for all.

Last week, the team placed special carbon samplers at key locations in Hanging Lake and at points where multiple springs emerge at the lake and Spouting Rock above the lake, and in nearby surface streams.

Introduction site at East Fork Deadhorse Creek.
Amy Titterington/White River National Forest

Then, they traveled into the Flat Tops above Glenwood Canyon to place nontoxic fluorescent tracer dye into the water at various potential source points.

The idea is that the dye will travel through the extensive karst (caves) system that defines the geology of Glenwood Canyon and, whichever color dye or dyes come out at Hanging Lake, that’s the source.

“If you’re making land management decisions related to water, one of the first questions you always have is, ‘What is the source of that water?’” explained Tom Aley, owner of Ozark Underground Laboratory and founder of the nonprofit Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation.

In the same way surface water delineates a watershed boundary, his firm specializes in gathering that kind of information when dealing with groundwater, especially as it relates to karst systems.

When caves are present, a substantial amount of surface water makes its way underground and can travel for a substantial distance before emerging into surface streams and lakes, Aley explained.

Such is the case with Hanging Lake, where that water travels through limestone deposits deep underground and eventually pools amid the steep cliffs of Glenwood Canyon at what’s become one of the most popular hiking destinations within the White River National Forest.

It’s that passage through the travertine formation and the unique vegetation in and around the lake that gives Hanging Lake its unique turquoise-green color.

Ozark Undergound Laboratory Senior Project Scientist Dave Woods installs small charcoal samplers in Dead Horse Creek. Tracers placed in the water upstream will accumulate on the charcoal, allowing the specific upstream water sources to be documented.
White River National Forest/Courtesy photo

Part of restoration effort

The source water project was made possible through some of the Glenwood Canyon and Hanging Lake fire and flood rehabilitation funds that came through various organizations including the White River National Forest Fund, the National Forest Foundation and the Aspen Community Foundation.

The work is being contracted through the National Forest Foundation.

“When you manage a unique, natural feature such as Hanging Lake, you want to learn as much as possible about it and the science behind it,” said Leanne Veldhuis, White River National Forest Eagle-Holy Cross District ranger.

When funding became available aimed at protecting the resource from the damage caused by the Grizzly Creek Fire and potential future flood events, the agency jumped at the opportunity, she said.

For now, the area remains closed indefinitely after mud and debris slides caused by torrential monsoonal rains over the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar in late July and early August covered the trail in spots and wiped out bridges leading to the lake.

Special resource

Though the trail to Hanging Lake was severely damaged after recent flash flooding in Glenwood Canyon, the lake itself remains unscathed.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“Cave and karst resources in general are something that require a lot of expertise,” Veldhuis said. “Not every forest area has them, and we have many caves all over this district.”

The Forest Service has worked with groups like the Colorado Cave Survey to get a better inventory of caves and how they’re interconnected within the White River National Forest.

Hanging Lake is unique in that it’s formed as a result of those groundwater systems.

“For the same reasons Hanging Lake is so popular, because it’s such a unique, travertine resource and that it’s accessible, we think the findings of this work will be something people are interested in,” Veldhuis said of the source water study.

Aley was joined on the Hanging Lake study by his lead scientist and associate, Dave Woods.

Ozark Underground has been doing groundwater tracing for about 50 years, including work associated with hazardous materials and mining sites, on every continent except Antarctica.

“We are involved in about 40% of all professionally directed groundwater tracing in the U.S.,” Aley said. “We have delineated recharge areas for 50 significant caves or springs around the country. Many of them are habitat sites for endangered or threatened species.”

The Hanging Lake study is especially important, because it involves detecting the water source of an area that’s designated as a National Natural Landmark.

The lab itself, based in Protem, Missouri, is situated on property that has a large cave which is also a National Natural Landmark and has its own unique cave fauna, he said.

The Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation was formed to protect and highlight the unique features of the local cave system, which contains approximately 2 miles of mapped passages defined by highly decorated stalactites, stalagmites, columns, flowstone and cave coral.

Long and short of it

The Hanging Lake study involves the placement of both active and passive carbon samplers near cave openings and in springs and creeks that descend Glenwood Canyon in the vicinity where the tracer dye might come out, Aley further explained of the process.

The active samplers allow for more immediate firsthand observations, while the passive ones can be examined after the fact over several months’ time to trace dye concentrations.

Tracer dyes were introduced at different locations up above in stormwater flow drainages that could carry water into the underground systems.

Ozark Underground Laboratory Senior Project Scientist Dave Woods installs small charcoal samplers in Dead Horse Creek. Tracers placed in the water upstream will accumulate on the charcoal, allowing the specific upstream water sources to be documented.
White River National Forest/Courtesy photo

That water can travel fairly rapidly through the ground to where it emerges on the surface, while some of it lingers, winding its way through and pooling inside the caves before coming out.

“If we have more rapid flow, we expect to have some answers yet this fall,” Aley said. “If it takes longer, we may not know until the snowmelt begins next spring.”

Before any results would be released, the findings would need to go through a quality assurance process as a cross-check to ensure accuracy, he said.

Aley also noted that much of the vegetation that contributed to the travertine process of dissolving the limestone formations is now gone due to the fire, and won’t reestablish for some time to come.

“Fire has made a dramatic difference in the chemistry of the area, so knowing which of the surface streams is a contributor of water to Hanging Lake is the first step in trying to understand the damage that may be occurring,” he said. “That way, we know what work needs to be done to try to mitigate those damages.”

Walking to the introduction site at East Fork Deadhorse Creek.
Amy Titterington/White River National Forest

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

On the Fly column: River limousines

Two anglers on the Colorado River release a rainbow trout.
Scott Spooner/Contributed

If you are a lifelong wade angler, your first foray on a drift boat will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about the sport. Here are a few tips to ensure success and help you feel a little bit less like a fish out of water.

Firstly, you must be in tune with the other angler in the boat. Typically, the person in the back is watching the one in the front, and timing their cast accordingly. Most of the time, the front angler gets the water in front of the oars, and the back angler fishes behind the oars to stay out of each other’s way. Many novice anglers in boats are facing the wrong direction as well — your water is in front (downstream) of you, not behind you. As we like to say, “Face the future.”

Managing your fly line will be a challenge at first. Learn to strip it in neat piles by your feet or into the stripping basket or platform on the foreside of your leg locks. Always face forward as a passenger in the boat so you are not caught off guard by sudden changes in speed or angle, otherwise you’ll end up in the water when the oarsman makes a sudden move. I learned that one the hard way.

Being courteous is paramount in a drift boat. This applies to the other angler as well as people you may encounter along the bank. When you’re in a “river limousine,” you get miles of water to enjoy. When you see wade anglers coming up, pull away from them and do the same with your flies. They’ll appreciate the gesture.

If you have a friend with a drift boat, be sure to make some inroads with them and get yourself invited along. Offers of shuttling and bringing food and beverages usually work out in your favor. Be safe, have fun, and get ready to be spoiled rotten — you may never wade again.

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.