Sometimes a swath of tracks through deep snow offers the only hint that a herd of elk was on the move in the darkness. Those paths, where each animal followed the same broken line of snow to minimize their effort, are a common sight on winter mornings in the Roaring Fork Valley. But it’s what happens in the trees, where the tracks disappear onto the hillside, that tells the rest of the story.
On a ski boot-shaped patch of land tucked up against the flanks of the Crown at Emma – where tawny, hip-high grass waves in the breeze and elk sometimes bed down in the afternoon sun – there’s more going on than meets the eye.
Most winter closures on Pitkin County open spaces begin Dec. 1, but a different sort of closure impacts recreation each autumn, as the hours of daylight grow shorter.