Trail Marker

The Ying Yang on the Rim Trail Has a Bittersweet Origin

For locals who know the story behind the unique monument, it truly is a sacred spot.

By Catherine Lutz May 1, 2016 Published in the Summer 2016 issue of Aspen Sojourner

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For those who find a meditative element in hiking and biking, the stone yin-yang platform on a high point off of Snowmass Village’s Rim Trail is an ideal place to rest, reflect, and take snapshots. For locals who know the story behind the unique monument, it truly is a sacred site.

In the early 1990s, when the Snowmass Village trails committee was exploring new locations, one of its members, Stark King, a local lawyer and poet, came up with the idea of enhancing “extraordinary” locations on existing trails, recalls Jeff Tippett, a longtime committee member. The spot a mile and a half up the Rim Trail, on an open point surrounded by sage and scrub oak, was identified as an extraordinary location. Offering stunning, 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains—including distinctive, white-striped Mount Daly and most of Snowmass ski area—it provides one of the town’s most iconic vistas.

But then King fell ill, and nine months later died of pancreatic cancer. Inspired by his idea, an ad hoc group of community members decided to complete the project themselves, each using his or her particular skill set to get the job done, be it fundraising, supervising the cutting of the granite, or figuring out the logistics of getting the heavy materials up to the site.

For those who knew him, the finished product—a multitoned labyrinth with a yin-yang at its center and a poem by King etched on a nearby rock—was a fitting memorial to their spiritual, creative, mountain-loving friend. It quickly became sacred to others, too, seeing its share of engagements and weddings, says Tippett, along with simply serving as a favorite place to catch one’s breath after the lung-searing pedal to the top.

“Who would’ve thought something like that would have the impact it has had on the community?” asks Tippett. No doubt Stark King would find the honor extraordinary. 

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