We awoke to a blue sky spotted with wispy cottony cumulus cloud puffs which may well have portended the massive dense bulging mounds and towers of the cumulonimbus thunderstorm clouds of the afternoon. Given our disappointment of having to opt out of the Four Pass Loop Hike, we chose a day hike up to Crater Lake, a portion of the first section (or last depending in whether one chooses to hike clockwise to counterclockwise) of the trail leading up to Maroon Pass. I am very glad we did it but still disappointed that it was not feasible for us at this time. This area outside of Aspen has been so popular over the years that vehicle restrictions were implemented so we, gladly as well as by necessity took the Maroon Bells Bus Tour to Maroon Lake (9580’). This is definitely advantageous for the environment but the driver/guide also provided us with significant information about the area.
The Crater Lake trail (3.6 round trip) is a steep and especially towards the end, a very rocky pathway, as one is climbing an ancient rockslide the created Crater Lake. Given the accessibility of the trail, the solitude that I seek that often accompanies hiking was difficult to achieve. But I am always so happy to see families especially out hiking with their children, that acceptance of what is the NOW brings satisfaction in a different way. The trail was boulder strewn and rough going. Kili was not very happy about this hike and he kept looking back and trying to go back. It became a drag the dog up the trail event. The heavy and dense storm clouds had rolled in and the cool drizzle began about three quarters of the way up. The drizzle increased its intensity and I finally caught up with Tasia and Amara who were, yet again, crouched under their ponchos in the woods.
We opted to have lunch after we hike out so I began to head back down while Tasia and Amara did a bit more exploring before they headed out. Kili was like a new “man.” He was staining at the leash and it was smooth sailing. The most fascinating person I saw on the trail was a young woman in 4-5 inch platform sandals carry a shopping bag with a bottle of wine to enjoy at the lake. I cannot even imagine her making it up and then back without a broken ankle or leg. I was being so cautious with every step, especially with the wet rocks and mud. Lunch was sitting on the shores of lovely Maroon Lake, enjoying the wildflowers and mirror images on the lake.
Back in town with a cell signal we made only the necessary texts and phone calls and were back through substantial rain to Lost Mans Camp. By some miracle just a bit short of the camp it was not raining. However a very damp chill 50 degrees was not conducive to sitting around outside (as if the tents weren’t the outside). Being impatient, we ate our bags of crispy noodles and back beans and rice, and were in the tents by eight. That way we did not have to deal with rain or flies and mosquitos if the presented themselves. There was a bit of sadness on my part because this was to be the last camping night with Tasia and Amara as we would be heading into Boulder and Longmont for the week-end to spend some time with Amara’s Aunt Amy (her father Stephen’s sister) and be in motels. Then it would be off to Denver Airport on Monday morning for Tasia and Amara’s return flights to Oregon.