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!
We were all really grateful when we got to the creek crossing at 11,200 feet. We took a nice long water break.
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.
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.
Unlike Trail Rider, Hasley Pass had a gentle approach giving us plenty of time to enjoy the tundra on the way up.
Hasley Basin itself was even prettier than I expected.
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.
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!).
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.
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!
I popped out my umbrella for the rest of the hot afternoon climb up to Frigid Air Pass.
We took a very-much-needed break about 700 feet below the pass.
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).
At the top of the pass we got great views of Maroon Peak and also of the impending storms to the southeast.
Given that we needed to make it over one more pass today, we spent less time than usual goofing around on the pass.
Needless to say, we did not linger on the pass.
As we headed down Maroon Creek raindrops started to fall and thunder filled the valley. We were very glad to be getting lower!
We originally wanted to camp in the first batch of trees below the pass, but all the spots there were taken.
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.
As is typical for the monsoon, the rain dissipated before sundown and things gradually started drying up.