A Scroll Down The Roaring Fork River, Part Two ABOVE ASPEN

Come Along

Take A

SCROLL

D O W N  T H E

Roaring Fork River

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p a r t  t w o

A B O V E   A S P E N

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Part One HEADWATERS / Part Three ASPEN / Part Four BELOW ASPEN

Roaring Fork River, Headwaters, Lost Man Trail.

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In Part One of our little scrolling tour we traced the Roaring Fork River from its rugged headwaters high up on the Continental Divide, down through turbulent ice clad waterfalls, steep rapids and roaring gullies, back to the point on Highway 82 from where the Lost Man Lake trail originates, providing in the process ample and convenient room for off road parking.

The river at this point now tumbles hurriedly away from its first encounter with the highway, crashing down a steep, narrow ravine quite impassable by foot.

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Roaring Fork River, Headwaters, Lost Man Trail.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Dense thickets of scrubby willow crowd the river’s passage for several miles.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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And as the enormous glacial valley widens ever broader the crystal clear icy-cold water assumes a gushing, tumbling, but altogether less frantic gait.

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Independence Ghost Town, Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Our next encounter with the river presents itself at the famous ghost town of Independence… ample off-road parking and all.

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Independence Ghost Town, Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Independence Ghost Town, Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Once home to 1,500 extremely proactive and optimistic Victorian era miners the gold, along with the silver… and anything else of worth, played-out so very much earlier than anyone expected that, by the time the few remaining half starved hold-outs recognized the writing for Independence was well and truly on the wall, they summarily fashioned crude planks from their cabin walls into ten-foot-long skis… hightailing it en-mass all the way to Aspen.

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Independence Ghost Town, Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Of the many ghost towns it has been my pleasure to snoop around out here in the Great American West I really think Independence ranks as quite the most picturesque, not to mention atmospheric.

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From this point onward Highway 82 practically cradles the river all the way to its rendezvous with the Colorado at Glenwood Springs, allowing for a superb degree of access for hiker, biker, and dyed-in-the-wool river worshiper alike.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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In Part One I made mention of the 14 or so ‘diversion’ tunnels that serve to transport water from the Western Slope (i.e. the lion’s share of the Colorado Rockies) over to the Front Range (Denver, basically). Well, this is what they look like. “Open Wide”

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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The immediate aftermath of the diversionary tunnel scare prompts the surviving water to go absolutely mad. In it’s eagerness to put distance between it and the horror of diversion the river embarks on a prolonged and steep rapids spree, driving the water into frothy white raptures.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Eventually however, panic expunged for the moment, the turbulence subsides and for the very first time in its young life our river learns to unwind.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Broad shoals now become the order of the day as the Roaring Fork widen’s out; and slightly nods off to be quite honest.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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It soon wakes up however for at this point the entire river, swollen or not, is unceremoniously forced through this one (relatively tiny) gap.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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A churning, smoldering, quite mesmeric sight it makes too. Quite hypnotic.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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A head for heights at this juncture proves handy. Firm footing too.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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The noise… the roar… the inferno… you’ll just have to imagine for yourself. Just don’t get dizzy staring at that roiling, broiling, churning water.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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On it goes; onwards and downwards. Practically this entire stretch is accessible by a myriad of trails each served by  quite spacious off-road parking.

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After several miles however the scene takes on an altogether different hue as the busy little beaver community, centered in and around Aspen’s North Star Nature Preserve, have their wicked way with the river… rendering it all but comatose in the process.

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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and now

the slideshow

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Roaring Fork River, Above Aspen

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I hope you enjoyed Part Two of our little scroll down the river, and that by now you are beginning to see why I’m just so nuts about it.

Please join me for Part Three when we will follow the Roaring Fork as it practically cuts a swath right through the heart of town. Not that you’d know it from a sidewalk perspective. I personally feel that The Roaring Fork River as it passes through Aspen serves as perhaps the most beautiful water corridor ever to weave, quite invisible and unannounced, through the heart of a city.

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Part One HEADWATERS / Part Three ASPEN / Part Four BELOW ASPEN

Author, Roaring Fork River, Headwaters, Lost Man Trail.

“Thanks for visiting martincooney.com”

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