While imprisoned in Aspen for Aaron and Britt's wedding, I schemed incessantly and finally managed to break free of my captors while conveniently garbed in my running outfit. Sprinting for the door of the Hotel Jerome, I hurdled indignant bellmen and sent a cart of last week's soiled crystal and silver crashing to the marble floor (it was headed to the incinerator anyway; donation is for the feeble-minded). Finally outside, locals' heads swiveled in my direction, their keen noses sensing a distinct lack of Range Rover ownership. Moving in for the kill, zombielike, they converged upon me, lattes in one hand, torts in the other, and forced me to make a desperate move through a brief opening in the approaching wall of cashmere. Spotting a succession of $2000 signs pointing the way to a $50 dirt trail, I did the only logical thing and headed for that trail and the mountains it accessed.
Most fortunately, I had accumulated some water bottles and a trail map during my incarceration, and also had the presence of mind to fashion a cellular communication device outfitted with a rudimentary camera. Hence, you'll be treated to some iPhone documentation of my time as an escapee. Winding my way to the outskirts of town and out of the valley, I gained elevation, lost oxygen content (Aspen itself is at 7900 feet, and everything's up from there), and found myself immersed in grove after grove of brightly-colored aspen.
First stage of the escape complete
On the lower slopes of Aspen Highlands
Continuing up and up along Government Trail (Big Brother is watching), I entered thinner and thinner air until the trail started to dip back down a little bit. It's worth noting that I encountered frequent patrols, mounted atop $8K mountain bikes as enforcement vehicles, and dove into bushes every time they came hunting for me.
My kinda sign
Up near the top of the trail, I spooked a mother and calf elk team (likely plotting my demise) and sent them clattering through the dry woods. Finally deciding that this path was too well-traveled, I bailed onto a trail affectionately known as Anaerobic Nightmare, making me overwhelmingly gracious that I was running down it and not up it.
Brashly pausing for a self-portrait
Back down into thicker air, I found myself many miles out of town and nearly out of water, so I followed Owl Creek Trail back towards the valley. I passed some quaint $20M "ranches" before arriving on a bluff overlooking the airport, where business jets are as common as Honda Civics and you're only cool if you've got a Gulfstream.
Parking lot of the rich and famous
Skirting detection here, I continued away from town until I found a friendly store. Unwrapping my trail map and phone from my shirt and donning proper attire, I begged the clerk until she took pity on me and allowed me to refill my water bottles; she must have made an escape attempt sometime too, poor kindred spirit. From here, I continued down to the idyllic Roaring Fork River, hopeful that the hounds would have trouble tracking my pungent scent along the waterway. Still about 5 miles outside of the prison's perimeter, I dipped my head and shoulders in the water and let it invigorate me for the remainder of the journey.
As inviting as they get
After some period of running up the Roaring Fork toward town, I zoned out and got disoriented, accidentally looping back to the hotel. I was overcome with a brief sense of panic, anticipating a most unpleasant assimilation back into the facility. Thankfully, though, I arrived exhausted, starving, and massively dehydrated, and was subsequently mistaken for an employee.
Based on my rudimentary scribbling (and backed by data from the homing chip they implanted under my skin, although I won't have access to that data until my next parole hearing), I was on the lam for just under 4 hours, ran for 3 and a half of them, and covered somewhere between 18 and 20 miles. After a good dip in the pool, the hot tub, and the pool again (I hadn't yet been identified as an escapee), I thoroughly enjoyed the wedding and the rest of the festivities, even though it hurt to stand up, much less walk around. I suppose there's something rewarding about listlessly wandering on foot in unfamiliar territory, as it was a far more palatable long run than any others I can remember.
Go get lost in the mountains!
[any allusions to the Hotel Jerome being a place of incarceration are only half-true]
[sorry for the iPhone photos, but hey, they're unedited and still quite alright, and the best camera is the one that's with you]
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