By Allen Best
Pumpkins battle for size title
JACKSON, Wyo. – Jackson Hole averages altogether 60 contiguous frost-free days each year. It’s not the first place you’d think of as being home to giant pumpkins.
But with a great deal of coddling, Greg Hahnel coaxed a 401-pound gourd from a community garden this summer. He tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that he ordered $50 worth of Dill’s Atlantic Giant seeds from somebody in Oregon. Of the 10 seeds he received, only four germinated and two flourished. But the seeds were certified from a strong lineage of monsters. “My pumpkin’s got papers,” he said.
The pumpkin was planted mid-May, and swaddled with blankets on nippy nights. Even after a hard frost hit Sept. 13, the pumpkin gained 45 pounds. He entered it into a contest, but it turns out at least one Utah pumpkin was far larger. The winner weighed in at 1,600-pounds.
No country for young critters
BANFF, Alberta – Two young grizzly bears were struck and killed on the train tracks in early October. Wildlife biologists say the yearlings, along with their mother, had returned to the Bow Valley after a summer of feeding on buffalo berries in the remote Cascade Valley.
The bears were not feeding on grain spilled by passing trains, as has been the case with many of the 13 confirmed grizzly bear mortalities on the tracks since 2000. Rather, it appears they were using the tracks as a travel corridor, officials from Parks Canada tell the Rocky Mountain Outlook.
As for wolves, just two of the six wolves born to the Bow Valley pack this year have survived. But biologists say this isn’t particularly unusual. Wolves often have five to six pups each spring, but the chances of all pups surviving are very slim.
Aspen pushes mid-sized hotels
ASPEN, Colo. – The Aspen Skiing Co. continues to advocate for policies that yield more mid-range lodging options in Aspen’s downtown commercial district.
For years, the city has discussed – and sometimes cussed – the idea of taller buildings in the Victorian-themed district. In general, the city has distrusted new buildings that would change the scale. Most of the older buildings are two or sometimes three stories. Around the edges of downtown, especially against the mountain, are some taller lodging properties.
Earlier this year, the council, in a 3-2 vote, instructed planners to draw up regulations that would cap redevelopment at 28 feet, effectively killing the third-floor penthouses that have been popping up as the result of liberalized building caps adopted about eight years ago. That policy, still to be finalized, would allow exceptions.
In a recent appearance before the city council, ski company chief executive Mike Kaplan outlined his company’s vision of the future. The downtown area needs more mid-size hotels, of about 100 rooms, he said.
Aspen, said Kaplan, needs to look beyond baby boomers, who have been the resort’s staple since the late 1960s.
“Yes, things are good now,” he said. “But the baby boomers aren’t going to keep coming here forever.” To stay competitive, Aspen needs to focus on creating more lodging opportunities, particularly those for younger age brackets.