Fall Break in the Maroon Bells - October 15-18, 2010

Fall Break in the Maroon Bells - October 15-18, 2010

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 39.06531°N / 106.99207°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Oct 15, 2010
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Fall

Day 1 - Friday October 15 2010

I was very excited for fall break which marks the half way point for the semester. This would be a nice break from homework and tests that never seems to end at the School of Mines. The plan was to hike the 35 mile Maroon Bells circuit 4 pass loop and hopefully get to explore some other areas in some side trips. It was going to be a three night backpack. The main goal for me was too capture some awesome fall photographs and as you will see, I think I did a pretty good job at making that goal a success.

We took the scenic route over Independence Pass as we drove to Aspen, CO from Golden, CO.
Upon arriving at Maroon Lake around 3pm we saddled up and started hiking. We quickly passed by the tourist ridden Maroon Lake. Maroon Lake is only very spectacular in the morning anyway so we didn't bother with many photos. Passed by lots of day hikers on our way to Crater Lake, which was nothing more than an area of dirt this late in the season. Completely dry!

After a short break at the trail junction we were on our way up to Buckskin Pass.
Pyramid Peak and FoliageSome late foliage looking towards the Pyramid Peaks on the trail to Buckskin

We were making progress very quickly and made it to the top just before sunset. We were able to watch the sunset over the distant Snowmass Mountain and Hagerman Peak. Looking the other way we had some stellar views of Pyramid Peak.
Pyramids from BuckskinSunset on Pyramid Peak

After the sun set we started descending as we had to get to Snowmass Lake for camp. Just as the moon rose, I was able to get some very nice alpenglow photos.
Alpenglow and MoonriseAlpenglow on the descent from Buckskin Pass
As the last alpenglow went away I shot this photo.
Twilight Alpenglow on the descent from Buckskin Pass

Darkness quickly came upon us and we finished the hike to Snowmass Lake in the dark. The only regret about this fantastic trip I had was not bringing the tripod. The twilight reflection shots I could have obtained of the Maroon Bells on the stream we passed would have been fantastic. Believe me I tried to get some photos but I just couldn't keep the camera still (duh!)

Got to Snowmass Lake and quickly set up the tent and went to bed.

Day 2 - Saturday October 16 2010

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise at Snowmass Lake. Although is was very cold is was still nice as the sun was coming out and it was looking to be a beautiful, crisp fall day.
Snowmass Lake SunriseSunrise at Snowmass Lake. Snowmass Mountain (right) and Hagerman Peak (left) are seen nicely towering above the lake.

Quickly ate and packed up and started the ascent to Trail Rider Pass. About 400 feet below the pass we hit sunshine and stopped to warm up. Got superb views of Snowmass Peak towering above us.
Snowmass PeakSnowmass Peak from below Trail Rider Pass

Upon summiting Trail River we were greeted with Panoramic Views.
Trail Rider PassView from Trail Rider pass looking west

After a nice break we started descending where the spectacular Hagerman Peak came into view.
Hagerman PeakHagerman Peak comes into view

A short bit later we came to a small tarn where we took another break.
I decided to take a side trip to Geneva Lake while my partner climbed Hagerman Peak.
Hagerman Peak ReflectionHagerman Peak from the small tarn

Got to Geneva Lake and wandered north towards Siberia Lake. I didn't make it that far but I will be back to get to Siberia Lake and climb Siberia Peak!
Snowmass MountainView from a nice alpine valley towards the backside of Snowmass Mountain

Met my partner at the trail Junction just below the small tarn and we were on our way to Fravert Basin where we would camp that night.
Hagerman PeakView towards Hagerman and Snowmass from the trail junction.

Maroon BellsView into Fravert Basin from the trail looking towards the Maroon Bells

Maroon BellsView of the Maroon Bells on the Descent into Fravert Basin

Upon getting into the bottom of Fravert Basin, the moon started to rise and I got some excellent photos of the Maroon Bells as the moon rose.
Moonrise over the Maroon BellsMoonrise over the Maroon Bells

The Maroon BellsMoonrise over the Maroon Bells

These were also taken right from our camp spot for the night. We got to relax and watch the sunset while having a nice campfire and talking to the other half of our group who met us here. They decided to do the loop in the other direction.
Once it got too cold, we went to bed.

Day 3 - Sunday October 17 2010

We woke early and quickly hit the trail to warm up. We ascended our way into upper Fravert Basin passing a hunting group who was living at the base of the Coors Waterfall for three weeks and counting.
Crossing the stream proved very challenging and we were stuck on the wrong side all the way until we got to the very bottom of the waterfall where I was finally able to design a makeshift bridge to get us across without wading the frigid waters.

Once again had great views of Hagerman as we ascended Frigid Air Pass.
Upper Fravert BasinView from near the top of Frigid Air Pass

Upon summiting Frigid Air, the cold winds chased us down in a hurry. Took a very quick side trip to the Hastley Basin Overlook.
Hastley BasinHastley Basin Overlook

Took my time and enjoyed he hike from Frigid Air to West Maroon Pass. Although the meadows had all died away everything was still so beautiful. Upon summiting West Maroon Pass a beautiful view of Bellview Mountain and the Pyramids came into view.
Pyramids and Bellevue Mountain West Maroon Pass panorama

After another break, I descended and explored around in the upper basin while my partner, whose goal was summits instead of photos, climbed Bellview Mountain. Shot this photo of Bellview Mountain as he just summited.
Bellevue MountainBellview Mountain from the upper basin below West Maroon Pass

I relaxed and took photos as sunbreaks came about. A storm was slowly moving in...one that would mark the end of hiking season. That is why our timing was so perfect...a beautiful weekend that marked the end of hiking season not to mention the lack of people in this usually popular area.
The PyramidsPanorama of the Pyramids from the upper basin

The PyramidsPanorama of the Pyramids from the upper basin

When my partner returned from Bellview, we started running down the trail back to Crater Lake. Didn't take long to get back but it also didn't take long for this to fog up.
Fog rolling inThe storm rolls in

We ate the remainder of our food and camped near Maroon Lake. The other half of our group (and our ride) wasn't coming out until Monday as they spend their last night at Snowmass Lake where we booked it out before the storm came in.
We hung around Maroon Lake that evening skipping rocks.

Day 4 - Monday October 18 2010

I awoke early to get the famous sunrise shot of the Maroon Bells from Maroon Lake. The winds were calm so I seized the opportunity and ran to the other side of the lake and captured what is now my Summitpost profile photo and probably my best photo I've taken to this date.
It was a little cloudy but it was early enough that some of the suns rays poked through.
Maroon Bells The famous sunrise shot from Maroon Lake

Only 5 minutes after I took this the winds picked up and the reflection was gone.

So we had to wait for our rides to get back. They had to hike over Buckskin. Too bad they missed the views due to the clouds and snow but they still had fun. We just hung around the lake all morning until they returned. Didn't see very many tourists either since it was a Monday and cloudy.

All in all, probably the best set of photos I have taken since I started photography a couple years ago and my favorite Colorado Trip to date.


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-2 of 2

EastKing - Dec 24, 2010 7:06 pm - Voted 10/10

Excellent TR and Pics

Awesome TR!

Matt Lemke

Matt Lemke - Dec 24, 2010 7:20 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellent TR and Pics

Thank you!
BTW, We are duplicating your Tye Peak adventure on Sunday...
I hope thats ok with you :)
Looks like you two had lots of fun

Viewing: 1-2 of 2