HIKING DISTANCE: 26.5 Miles
VERTICAL: +/- 7,450′
TIME: 10 Hours 49 Minutes
The Four Pass Loop, an iconic trek in the mighty Elk Range near Aspen. Wow.
I left from the Maroon Lake parking area around 630a. Per a friend’s suggestion, I tackled the Loop going clockwise. I’d already hiked the route almost up to West Maroon Pass a couple times during my climbs of Maroon and North Maroon peaks. Still a treat. It was overcast almost all day, which worked out well for some photos and was really limiting for others. Ah well, it all comes out in the wash, I guess. I’m pretty satisfied overall.
The climb up West Maroon Pass was beautiful. And dropping down into the basin below Frigid Air Pass was pretty neat-o. And easy. Short. I only lost and re-gained about seven hundred feet. Dropping down into the next basin, beyond Frigid Air Pass, was awesome. And long. I lost almost two thousand feet before the long, challenging climb up to Trailrider Pass, which was by far my favorite. The view looking down on Snowmass Lake was wicked. And it was cool to have already had a different perspective of Snowmass when I climbed the 14er by the same name earlier this summer. The climb up Buckskin was pretty mellow compared to that of Trailrider. And dropping down the other side was gorgeous, a wonderful way to finish. Expansive views of the nearby Bells and distant Pyramid Peak.
Shortly before beginning the climb up to Buckskin Pass, I came around a corner and over a rise to accidently surprise a beautiful fox (pictured above). At first, she ran off, but not far. I could still see her tail through the brush. I grabbed my camera and started to creep along the trail to get a photo, and she disappeared. I was so bummed, and so grateful. It was really, really cool. Then, suddenly- she jumped up on a downed tree behind me. It sounded like a cat clawing at the bark. It was like she was posing for a photo op. I snapped three quick ones, and then she casually turned and left. She wasn’t even 25 feet from me. Whoa. What a privilege.
I hike alone, yes. But I’m not alone. Never alone.