4-Pass Loop Aspen/Snowmass Wilderness Area
July 16th, 2017
Day 2- Fravert Basin >; Trailrider Pass > Buckskin Pass > Crater Lake
Start: 10,720' High: 12,462' Low: 10,076' Gain: 3812' Loss: 4458' Distance: ~15 miles
We hit the trail at 730 AM, not particularly early, but much earlier than the previous day. We even had the luxury of drinking coffee, and they partook in hot oatmeal as well.
|Really cool section of trail that we got started on right away. We dropped down a headwall into the lower basin|
|Looking out from the same spot. It was very lush down below|
|Pretty huge waterfall, I think someone called it King Falls|
|Another look. It spills onto a pile of massive boulders about 2/3 of the way down|
|Prime moose habitat, but we didn't see any|
|Flowers were everywhere|
|2nd and final major stream crossing. It was much smoother and calmer than the last one.|
|The water was still ICE-cold of course|
|This meadow was simply unbelievable. So many wildflowers, this picture doesn't do it justice.|
The trail followed the gentle valley for a while, heading down. Eventually we crossed over and started climbing steeply out of the valley. This gave us wonderful views of the area that just got better as we climbed higher.
|Half stream, half waterfall|
|The trail reached this wonderful meadow with BIG views|
|A selfie, why not?|
|North Maroon (L) and Maroon Peak (R)|
|3-shot panorama of the area below Trailrider pass|
|Avery is heading up the pass|
|On top of trailrider pass, they were able to have a brief moment together|
|Looking down at Snowmass Lake from the pass|
|Panorama, looking East|
|We had to cross half a dozen snowfields, this was the longest initially|
|A closer view of Snowmass Lake|
|Looking back up at Trailrider Pass|
|Looking down at Snowmass Lake. It looks inviting but the water is just above freezing|
|Snowmass mountain (14,098') is the small point in the back middle. It's a fairly challenging summit.|
|This snowfield was really long and slushy and not at all fun for Anastasiya|
|Hagerman Peak and Snowmass Mountain left of center|
|I thought this looked really cool hiking next to the cliff edge|
|The slope relented as we neared to final and highest pass!|
|Looking SW from Buckskin Pass (12,462') notice the goats?|
|2-shot panorama from Buckskin Pass|
We had a really neat encounter with a family of mountain goats on Buckskin pass. We tried really hard to not disturb the goats, but they ended up coming very close to us and running between myself and the other 2 in our group.
|Impressive Cornice on Buckskin Pass|
After topping out on Buckskin pass, I admit I was feeling a bit deflated. We still had a pretty good amount of ground to cover, and fatigue was starting to set in. I actually took a several-minute break on the way down just to give my quads and shoulders a rest.
|The summit trail for North Maroon Peak is partially visible here|
|As we get closer to crater lake, aspen groves emerge|
|Indeed Brewing Companies Rum King was a nice treat|
|Our route for day 2 was quite cicuitous|
The next morning I woke up early and went for a little 1-mile hike with my camera trying to get some good pictures. The lake was calm at first but as the sun came up a stiff breeze blew away my hopes of good reflection shots.
|Pyramid reflected in Crater Lake|
|The Maroon Bells from Crater Lake|
|Maroon Bells w/ alpenglow|
|North Maroon dominates the view|
|Back at the trailhead. After roughly 30 miles of hiking, we are ready to take the packs off and eat some real food!|
This was a great trip despite the at-times really heavy crowds on the trail. This is a wonderful route that is slowly being loved to death. I would recommend it but with an asterisk next to it, don't do the 4-Pass Loop if you are looking for solitude or a pure wilderness experience.