Monday, July 21, 2014

Four Passes Loop

John and I were excited to have the chance to tackle the Four Passes Loop near Aspen, around the Maroon Bells.  We have heard great things and we were ready for a long day on the trails.

Starting out at Maroon Lake - immediately awed by the scenery and the Maroon Bells on the horizon:

Trail through the aspens:

Crater Lake and a closer look at the mountains:

Climbing up to our first pass (West Maroon), John was excited to find some Trader Joe's chocolate covered almonds in our food stash:

Looking back the way we had come:

Yes, we like this stuff a lot!

I had a smile on my face most of the day, especially when finding fields of wildflowers:

South-facing view on our way to the 2nd pass (Frigid Air Pass - fun name):

You don't have to climb straight up this snow slope at the top of the pass, but it makes for more interesting photos:

Another look back:

And forward to the next huge valley with the Bells watching over it:

What a beautiful day too.  There were brief rain showers several times, but they were more of the cooling variety instead of the soaking kind.

The long green wall along the valley:

Coming down the valley, we found a large "step" in the terrain that made a nice overlook:

And a big waterfall, yay!

This bit of water was coming out from underground:

Columbines  :)

We would have gone rather faster except I couldn't resist taking a ton of photos...

Starting up the long climb to pass #3 (Trail Rider):

John got inspired (or tired of waiting for me) to get out his phone and start taking his own pictures:

A small lake on the way to the pass:

Taking it all in:

John is fast...

...and patient:

His point of view:

Snowmass Lake - another amazing bunch of scenery:

John trying to help me feel taller next to some tree-looking bushes:

A few snow patches on the way down toward the lake:

Almost makes me wish we had a packraft with us:

Excellent trail for running around the lake:

A little posing, especially since we were happy to have a bridge for this creek crossing.  That didn't happen most of the time on this loop, i.e. we got to train with wet feet for much of the day.

If this were a rogaine we'd probably have a checkpoint on the other side of the beaver dam.

The trail up to pass #4 (Buckskin) to complete the loop:

Hello Mr/s. Marmot!

Snowmass Mountain on the horizon - I finally see how it got that name:

The final pass and a Maroon Bell across the way:

John hanging out with (holding up?) the cornice:

One last creek crossing, this one passable with dry feet:

John having fun with his camera phone:

For even more John fun/silliness, check out this video that he took:

One last look at the beautiful mountains...

What an awesome day!

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