While on our routine Monday morning hike up Smuggler to kick off the week, we stopped in our tracks just past the mine and around the first turn.
On the right, with a picture perfect view of Ajax, a swing now hangs from an evergreen tree secured with climbing rope—its cherry red seat engraved with the hashtag #AspenSwingProject.
We waited until we got home to take to Instagram, hoping to find who’s behind this beautiful idea. Only three public photos are out there so far, one of which is at a different, but undisclosed location.
A call to Pitkin County Open Space & Trails didn’t turn up any more clues. A spokesperson said, "we have no information about it and that it’s obviously happening without a permit." They added with a laugh, “I’m pretty certain no one has ever asked to do anything like this ever before.”
Stopping for a swing is the happiest addition to our trails we've seen yet (rangers: please let them stay!). So whoever you are, keep them coming and feel free to let us in on more by emailing us here.
We salute this hashtag with another one: #OnlyInAspen.
Updated (September 11, 2016):
Shortly after we published this post, we got an email and the swing case was solved. The mysterious mastermind? An Aspen local who requested to have his name kept anonymous, but did share why he’s secretly planting swings on our trails and where else you can find them.
“I didn’t ever think it was going to turn into a thing. I just randomly thought about how I hadn’t been on a swing in awhile and that doing this—it would give everyone who finds them this happy moment to relive their childhood,” he says. "
With a day job as a personal trainer, he relocated from the East Coast to Aspen two years ago and admits, “I came out to visit my uncle for a long weekend…and you know how that goes.”
He carves, paints, and engraves each #AspenSwingProject bench by hand and hits the trails with rope in tow in search of the perfect tree. So far, he’s successfully set up swings on Smuggler (two locations), the Ute, Rio Grande (near Cemetery Lane), and most recently—American Lake. He attempted Herron Park, but the swing was gone within a few hours when he returned, so he's sticking to harder to reach spots for future swings. He also is hopeful that city officials will "just kind of ignore it."
“American Lake was more just for me, because I don't think many people will be able to find it.”
We found it today and it’s the best one yet.