Day 2: Hasley, Frigid Air, and West Maroon Passes

Lake Geneva Trailhead to West Maroon Creek
(18 miles, +5,800/-4,700 feet).

So I guess it was a little too slopey last night.  MixMaster and I kept sliding towards the river.  I got good rest but not much sleep.  Oh well.

We got an earlier start this morning and that was a good thing because we had to climb about 1,500 feet in the first 2 miles.  Steep!

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I want to go back to bed….
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Meadow Mountain
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Trailside lupines
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Wildflowers everywhere!

We were all really grateful when we got to the creek crossing at 11,200 feet.  We took a nice long water break.

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Color coordinated

As I expected, there was an absolutely spectacular campsite on the ridge at 11,400 feet,  But it might as well have been on the moon because we would never have made it last night!

When we ascended over the ridge we got our first view of the wide bench we would walk on this morning with its orgy of flowers and expansive views of the Treasure Mountains to the south.

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This is amazing!
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Flowers and other Treasure
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Worth the climb!
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Elephant Head flowers
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Looking across to North Pole Basin
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I could do this traverse forever!
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View towards Rock Creek valley
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Kings Crown flowers
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Mount Bellview

After about 4 miles of traverse above Crystal Canyon, we turned north and headed back to alpine meadows as we climbed up to Hasley Pass.

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Marsh Marigold
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Alpine Buttercup
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Rosy Paintbrush

Unlike Trail Rider, Hasley Pass had a gentle approach giving us plenty of time to enjoy the tundra on the way up.

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Chia meanders past the snowfields
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View south from Hasley Pass

Hasley Basin itself was even prettier than I expected.

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Lower Hasley basin
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Upper Hasley basin
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Parry’s Primrose
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Trail Rider Pass is the notch between the white and red mountains on the far ridge center right
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View back towards Hasley Pass (far left)

We made our way down through the tundra and then passed through a mile of willows before re-entering the forest.  It has been a long time since anyone maintained this trail, so getting back down past all the blowdowns on the way to North Fork Crystal Creek was challenging.

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Back into the woods
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Back at the North Fork

When we reached the river there was no easy way to get through the swamp to collect water, so we ate some dry sandwiches and continued on up the trail towards King Falls.  And now that we were back on the traditional route, we once again passed many hikers (we had not seen anyone all day before that!).

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A platonic columbine
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King Falls

My map showed a feature called “Fountainhead Spring” on the right hand side of the trail, so we held out for that water source.  But we never found it and only later realized that it was a feature on the left hand side of the trail that looked like a stream emerging from nowhere (D’oh!).  Instead of backtracking, we decided to wait for a close approach to King Falls to get water.

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Fountainhead Spring is right below the group of pines center left

It was tough climbing 400 feet with no moisture left in my body and with a dry cheese sandwich lodged in my throat.  But that made the falls even more refreshing!

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MixMaster gets a refill
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Backcountry shower!
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That’s *much* better!

I popped out my umbrella for the rest of the hot afternoon climb up to Frigid Air Pass.

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Under the Fravert Sun
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Upper Fravert Basin

We took a very-much-needed break about 700 feet below the pass.

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Chia studies Maroon Peak
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Off we go again

Today, the sky started to darken around 3pm, right on time for a typical Colorado Monsoon.  But we could not see anything to be worried about (yet).

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So far so good

At the top of the pass we got great views of Maroon Peak and also of the impending storms to the southeast.

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Frigid Air Pass
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MixMaster makes it
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Yes, that’s the direction we need to hike….
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Chia studies the sky
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Looking back down North Fork Crystal River
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Sky Pilots guard the southern view from Frigid Air Pass

Given that we needed to make it over one more pass today, we spent less time than usual goofing around on the pass.

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Okay time to go
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Our trail to West Maroon Pass
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Looks like it’s raining at Schofield Pass
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Wildflowers galore!
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Ridge south of West Maroon Pass
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Rain now developing behind us
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Let’s kick it up a notch!
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We are machines!

Needless to say, we did not linger on the pass.

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View south from West Maroon Pass
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View north from West Maroon Pass
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Okay, I have to stop long enough to snap a photo of this pika
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Whew, we made it!

As we headed down Maroon Creek raindrops started to fall and thunder filled the valley. We were very glad to be getting lower!

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Len Shoemaker Ridge
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Getting heavier now, time for a wardrobe adjustment
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That’s better!

We originally wanted to camp in the first batch of trees below the pass, but all the spots there were taken.

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No room at this inn
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Chia puts his stuff in waterproof bags to keep hiking

Fortunately, about a mile later we found a very nice area right next to the trail in a dry copse of trees with room for three tents.  Perfect!

We made camp and then enjoyed a well-earned dinner.

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Right on!

As is typical for the monsoon, the rain dissipated before sundown and things gradually started drying up.

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Nighty night!
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One Comment Add yours

  1. Jawbone says:

    What a fantastic area! Beautifully captured!

    Liked by 1 person

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