Nature’s way from Vail Valley to Aspen |

Nature’s way from Vail Valley to Aspen

Dustin Racioppi
Vail Valley, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyColorado Springs resident Jason Schlarb, left, and Vail Valley, Colorado resident Mike Devloo begin their 40-mile journey from Avon to Aspen on Tuesday as they enter the Holy Cross Wilderness from the top of Beaver Creek.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” Ding Dong and Dink, otherwise known as Jason Schlarb and Mike Devloo, respectively, are taking the shortcut from Colorado’s Vail Valley to Aspen. At the same time, they’re taking the long way to Aspen.

The friends made the decision months ago that they would make the unconventional trek to Colorado’s other world’s most famous ski town, and on Tuesday they boarded the Westin’s Riverfront Express gondola to begin the anticipated 5-day voyage.

Each armed with 40-pound backpacks, skis, maps and GPS units, the duo is ready for, at the very least, an adventure skiing, hiking and camping.

“If there’s a combination of what it’s going to be ” ‘Real World,’ ‘Survivorman’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project,'” said Devloo, 26.

Devloo and Schlarb will have a video camera with them to capture that, and they plan on showing the film locally on April 25.

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On Tuesday, the two men were jovial and lighthearted, yet determined. Devloo knew that the first two days ” getting up the Grouse Mountain that doesn’t have a ski lift, particularly ” would be the hardest part of the journey. He’s been in parts of the area during the summer and has an idea of what to expect.

“There’s a lot of wilderness,” he said. “It’s super rugged.”

For the approximate 30 -mile trip, Devloo and Schlarb plan to log eight to 10 miles a day. They’re ready for the long haul, though, with all the necessities: Dehydrated food, a stove, sleeping bags, candles and a tent. Outside of that, they’re on their own.

“There’s going to be a lot of things ” going around features, going up, going down,” Schlarb, of Boulder, said.

They have a hotel room booked for Saturday in Aspen. And Schlarb’s wife will be there to pick them up, though he did give her the GPS way points where the men would be if anything bad or unexpected should happen along the way.

“We have way points every six miles, so it’s not too much of a range to find us,” Schlarb said.

And as an added precaution, Schlarb and Devloo bought search and rescue cards Tuesday morning.

The two are confident that they won’t need them and they’ll be celebrating in Aspen come Saturday.

Then they’ll take the long way back home.

“Just to do a one-way trip is really cool ” being out there by ourselves and doing one-way,” Schlarb said. “To not go back at all, you rarely do that.”

Staff writer Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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