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While driving around on the back side of Aspen Mountain (so up around 10,000 feet altitude) we came upon these bags of ash. They look like they could be opened up on the bottom to let the contents out, our best guess is that they are ballast bags for a hot air balloon. You can see my brother's legs in the first picture for some kind of scale.

Were we right?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know how much ballast a hot air balloon might need, but those look like what are known here in Australia as "Bulka-Bags". They are used for a huge variety of granular products, from sand & fertiliser to grain, or any other usually dry powder product. They usually carry a cubic metre or so, and maybe a tonne of mass. Too big for a balloon, perhaps they were jettisoned by a helicopter carrying them underslung due to bad conditions? brisbanebags.com.au/… $\endgroup$
    – Mackk
    Jul 24, 2018 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Mackk I'm not sure that they are Bulka-Bags as they look like this $\endgroup$
    – Super
    Jul 24, 2018 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ @FallenUser apart from the colour, to me they look like those, laid on the side $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Jul 24, 2018 at 7:37
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    $\begingroup$ OK, so we've got this: buyactivatedcharcoal.com/super-sack-specials.html $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2018 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ In Alaska and the Canadian Yukon charcoal or ash is sometimes used in "bomb" drops to melt ice on rivers and creeks that have ice dams. However I have never heard of helicopters used for this though it is conceivable there might be a beneficial ranching operation or homes endanger of flooding. I seem to remember the last WWII A26 bomber used for this being retired from service about 20 years ago and they would have replaced it with something. It usually used coal dust. Now there are probably legal problems with interfering with nature. $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Jul 25, 2018 at 7:06

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Almost definitely not.

Hot air balloons control their height by changing their temperature, they don't typically use ballast bags. It's possible that these were ballast bags on a gas balloon, but ash seems like a strange choice for weight considering how light it is.

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