Crater Lake to Snowmass Lake (9.8 miles)
I woke up close to midnight to people talking and multiple headlamps beaming through the darkness. What the heck, I thought? Only one couple was camped near me but this was much closer and in the wrong direction. I was slightly annoyed because they weren’t even trying to be considerate as they set up camp. I eventually went back to sleep but it was restless, as it usually is when I camp.
It rained/hailed/snowed off and on through the night and finally let up around 7:30 a.m. I said hello to the four people who emerged from their tent 20 feet from me, and they were actually very nice. Maybe they didn’t see my tent the night before?
I packed up and headed out to complete a quick out and back jaunt (4 miles round trip) to Maroon Lake, a famous spot beneath the Maroon Bells that I’ve seen on many a postcard and publication about Colorado. There were hordes of people on the trail, as it’s just outside of Aspen and very popular. So popular that it can’t even accommodate all the cars at the trailhead and most folks have to take a shuttle from Aspen to it! Most people start their four passes hike from this location, but my friend Steven gave me the good advice to start out of Crested Butte and I highly recommend that option (but definitely include this little out-and-back jaunt because it’s worth it for the photo op, even with the masses).
Once on the loop again, I ascended to Buckskin Pass and it was a bigger challenge in comparison to West Maroon the day before. I met a group of three friendly 20-something-year-old girls backpacking with their dogs. They reminded me of my own 20-something-year-old self, which feels like a lifetime ago….but wasn’t it just yesterday? A tangible reminder of the importance of taking every opportunity to explore this great big, wonderful world. One of them was on her first backpacking trip and I commended her choosing such a challenging one for it.
The pass was windy and cold, so I only stopped for a couple of minutes for a picture or two, then I started down the back side where it was much warmer. The hiking was downhill and easy until the last mile which ascends to Snowmass Lake. It was stunning and a fine place to call my temporary home. I got there by 2:30, so I had time to sit and just “be” which I’m guilty of never doing in my own permanent home. There were so many people camping there, but it was oddly quiet. No complaints from me.
After the sun set, the temperature dropped significantly and I was tired from a restless night of sleep the night before, so I crawled in my tent. Inspired by a blogger I adore, Walking with Wired, I watched an episode of Six Feet Under that I had previously downloaded on my iPhone. Erin, this blogger I like, downloads and watches various TV shows at night, on her long thru hikes of various trails. Since I hardly ever sit still enough to watch TV at home, it sounded like fun and it was! And no worries, I used headphones so as not to disturb other people camping at the lake. 🙂