|Snowmass Lake looking east from the second pass, Trail Rider Pass.|
The Four Pass Loop... all I can say really is that if you have not ever done it is well worth the effort. It is hard. My GPS showed 27.5 miles of travel with 9,286 feet in gain. The average elevation of the day was 11,193 feet.
It is remote wilderness so everything that you might need you will need to carry with you. I had a full daypack with enough gear to stay out overnight if it came to it. I just prefer to be prepared. I had two handhelds (22 oz each) and a 100oz bladder all full when we started. When we were done I was down to my last five sips out of the bladder. Just enough.
As as I said it was difficult. The climbs were steep, the descents seemed even more steep. We did the loop counter-clockwise and doing the passes in order of Buckskin Pass, Trail Rider Pass, Frigid Air Pass, then lastly West Maroon Pass which is followed by a very long, very long, VERY LONG, seven to eight mile descent back down to Maroon Lake and the start.
All that I could think about all day was it felt like I was doing Hope Pass, over and over and over again. Both sides. All day.
The first pass, Buckskin was a steep climb and felt like the steepest one of the day. The drop down into the next valley surprised me. I failed to really grasp that portion of the elevation profiles that I had studied and was under the assumption that the trail stayed higher than it did on the way over to Trail Rider Pass.
|The drop of the back side of Buckskin Pass. Photo by Jeff Marshall.|
|Shanon, Paul, and Jeff taking a break on top of Trail Rider Pass. Snowmass lake is in the background.|
Approaching Frigid Air pass was forever long. There was an awesome waterfall along the way but past that the trail ascended slowly through winding willow thickets no view of the pass to be seen which left me wondering just where in the hell we were going. But once I saw the pass it was startling as it was a very steep climb with switchbacks up out of the valley.
|An amazing waterfall on the approach to Frigid Air Pass.|
|Shannon, Paul and myself sitting up on West Maroon Pass before our final descent. Photo by Jeff Marshall.|
But leading up to Saturday we had a really fun week. Monday we went white water rafting on the Roaring Fork. It was my first time on the water in probably 12 years, and 15 years after my "accident" up on Clear Creek. It was a lot of fun and although we were in a raft as opposed to a kayak, I was surprised to just how well I could read the river and how natural it felt. The day left me wondering if I might want to start kayaking again. The jury is still out on that as of yet.
Tuesday evening we went to a very nice birthday picnic at the East Maroon Portal. Wednesday, Melissa and I took the Jeep up Express Creek out of Ashcroft up to Taylor Pass then made our way back to Aspen via Richmond Ridge Road. We also got to see the newest Planet of the Apes movie this week and that was awesome!
|The Jeep up on top of Taylor Pass.|