Aug 10, 2009 at 9:53 am #1238455
@jdw01776Locale: Southeast Texas
I recently completed a multi-day trip in the Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness. I crossed 3 of the 4 passes of the Four Pass Loop, and also spent a rest day at Snowmass Lake. As a geologist, it's always a treat to go to an area where the results of a variety of geological processes are on display at such a large scale.
I flew from Houston to Denver, and rented a car. I spent 1 night in Dillon, CO., and 1 night at the Silver Bell Campground, before hitting the trail. On the way home I spent 2 nights in Dillon, CO., before flying back to Houston.
Day 1 — My longest day — about 12 miles from West Maroon Portal (the normal overnight parking area was full) up to Crater Lake, then over West Maroon Pass and Frigid Air Pass, and into the massive, wildflower-filled, Fravert Basin. I camped for the night just above King Falls.
Day 2 — I continued further down into Fravert Basin, then up and over Trail Rider Pass, and down to Snowmass Lake, where I camped. A fly rod would have been great to have — some nice trout were being caught from the creek draining the lake.
Day 3 — I spent the day at Snowmass Lake talking with other backpackers, reading, and just relaxing. It had started raining for several hours at about 3AM. The rain stopped for most of the morning, but by early afternoon, it was back to periods of heavy to light rain, accompanied by some thunder and lightening, with some short periods of no rain. By late evening the clouds had moved out to a spectacular sunset. This was the coldest night of the trip — probably down into the upper 30s.
Day 4 — I set off down the Maroon Snowmass Trail toward the trailhead above Snowmass Village, with a couple of other backpackers who were also heading out that day. We spotted a bear paw print in a muddy section of trail, but didn't see any bear. After reaching the trailhead, the couple I hiked out with gave me a ride to the Aspen Highlands ski area, where I was able to catch the shuttle bus back up Maroon Creek Road to the area where my car was parked.
Looking at the loads carried by other backpackers, I believe I was the only one going UL. The trip wouldn't have been as enjoyable if I had to tote 40 or 50 pounds, instead of 20.
West Maroon Pass is up ahead
Massive Fravert Basin, descending from Frigid Air Pass
Snowmass Lake, descending from Trail Rider Pass. Trail Rider was the most difficult of 3 passes I crossed.
Clouds at sunset over Snowmass Peak, after a day of rain and thunderstorms
Snowmass Creek crossing point — the Log Jam. It helps to step lightly here
Looking back up Snowmass Creek valley
View of the Bells on the way back to the car
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