It’s 4th of July 2017. A perfect long weekend to organize a trek. Backpacks, wildness, minimalism and only nature. I want to share with you my experience of trekking the “4 Pass Loop” in the Maroon Bells mountains, Colorado.
DAY 1 – Get it started
We flew from Miami, Florida a very early Saturday morning to Denver, Colorado. The time to get out of the airport and to get the rental car, we got on the road at around 12 pm. Our plan was to head to the little town of Aspen and there take a shuttle that would bring us to the beginning of the 4 Pass Loop trek. We had 3 hours drive to get to Aspen. The drive was long and busy (it was 4th of July weekend), we ate on the road and made a stop at a REI store. Arrived in Aspen, we parked the car in an underground parking for $10 per day (weekend price).
After putting on our hiking clothes, we went straight to the Aspen Highlands parking where they sell tickets for The Maroon Bells bus. The final destination of this bus is where you start the 4 Pass Loop trek.
Notice: I highly recommend taking a shuttle to go to The Maroon Bells as the road is closed to private cars.
We paid our tickets $8 per person including the way back to Aspen. The bus schedules are usually 8 am to 5 pm. Click here for bus schedules.
We started hiking at around 4 pm. After only few miles, we decided to camp at Crater Lake as we were too tired to hike up to the next camp. The night was quiet and surrounded by wild animals.
DAY 2 – Crossing Pass #1 and #2
We woke up at 5 am, 45 minutes before the sunrise. Loup set up all his gears to make a time lapse and I started preparing breakfast. We also got to use the drone and the GoPro to capture wild animals around us. Finally we started hiking. Timing was essential as we had to cross two passes before noon (being at the top of a pass close to midday, highers your risk to be electrocuted). Therefore, we walked quickly. At the top of the first pass we weren’t feeling well as we did not have time to acclimate ourselves to high altitude (we were coming from Florida). The view was such amazing that we quickly got back to hike towards the second pass. It was around 10 am. We met few people during the day turning around because of the snow on the trail. We didn’t worry, we had micro-spikes in our backpacks. When we actually got to use these spikes, we discovered that there were completely crap and without them it wouldn’t have change anything. We still climbed in the snow to reach the pass but we had to be very careful not slip and fall. I think this was one of the most dangerous part of the trek. The view was so worth it, I couldn’t ask better. It was around 1 pm. Even if we were starving, we decided to wait to get to our camp to have lunch. We arrived unfortunately to the camp under the rain and at 4 pm. We were so hungry and tired of the day, that we had a quick meal (lunch/dinner) and took refuge in our tiny tent. This night, we slept tight.
DAY 3 – Crossing Pass #3
We woke up early around 6 am and got prepared to continue our hiking journey. We actually got the chance to enjoy the place where we camped for the night as it was now sunny. For approximately an hour, we walked in the forest and met once or twice wild animals.
Notice: We had all necessary equipment (pepper spray, knife, food & trash odor container) and were well prepared (read about the subject) against bears attack. You cannot trek without being prepared especially at this period of time (July) and in Colorado.
After getting out of the forest, the view was so incredible that we HAD to make a stop for Loup to fly his drone.
This whole day was quite similar than the previous one – We had to cross the third Pass before noon. Between crossing freezing cold rivers, having the altitude sickness & tiredness, sliding down the mountain on our bag-pack rain cover and walking on slippery snow path, we manage to cross the Pass on time.
We arrived at our camp at around 3 pm and had our lunch straight away (we were starving again!). This camp site had an incredible view on Snowmass Lake. We just layered there and contemplated for hours. We found later on, the perfect spot to have our dinner and Loup enjoyed this place to do a time lapse.
DAY 4 – Crossing Pass #4
Last day of the trek. We had breakfast in front of a beautiful sunrise. Once our food was swallowed and everything was backed again in our backpacks, we continued our journey to cross Pass #4. We left the camp at around 7:30 am and arrived at the top of Pass #4 at 10:30 am. Going down and back towards Crater Lake was easy. We were only struggling with the hot and strong sun. Around midday, we arrived at Crater Lake and refreshed ourselves by putting our feet in the lake. We then took the shuttle back to Aspen and had our lunch there before taking the road again.
The 4 Pass Loop trek is a 26.6 miles (41.8 km) trail. It doesn’t sound much distance at the first look for a 4 days hike but the elevation is high: 9,580 ft (3,000 m). I loved everything about this trek and recommend everyone to do it. Be sure to be a minimum prepared physically, mentally and also have the correct gears before doing it.
The feel, sound and beauty of nature beats everything in our society. Getting back to the basics of life, will bring you happiness, a peaceful mind and good energy.
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