Last week I took off some time to head to Aspen. I wanted to hike to Conundrum Hot Springs Snowmass Lake and summit Snowmass Mountain I arrived in Aspen on Tuesday right after sunset. I had taken the back way up through Leadville and over Independence Pass which I would recommend to anyone.
My Mom and Brother arrived Wednesday night pretty late. After taking some more pictures of the Maroon Bells on Thursday Morning we headed to the Conundrum Hot Springs trailhead. It turns out that dogs (Zip) are not allowed in the upper valley by Conundrum Hot Springs and the campground. So, we headed down to the Ranger station for the Aspen area to get some maps and figure out where to go next (They had previously told me over the phone that the only restrictions for dogs were you had to have them on a leash …. GRRR)
We decided on heading to Snowmass Lake and then summit Snowmass Mountain the second day. So we headed to the Maroon – Snowmass trailhead up above Snowmass Village. After getting our packs ready and getting Zip all geared up we headed out for the lake.
The trail along the way was long (9 Miles) but sure was beautiful. We passed quite a few horse riders and a few hikers but didn’t run into any large animals. It was sort of disappointing to not see any Deer, Elk, or anything else. We crossed over a big log jam and then headed up through some deep woods and after passing a few waterfalls we finally reached camp.
The views at the lake were stunning with the cliffs jutting out of the lake at the far end and some amazing peaks in the rear. We set up camp and hung out until the mosquitos forced us to go in our tents.
Friday Morning we woke up just before sunlight to try and get some decent pictures of the lake and peaks. After grabbing some breakfast we made our way to the summit of Snowmass Mountain. This turned out to be quite the damn hike. The summit raises 3,000+ feet from the lake in under Two Miles. So we were pretty much hiking straight up the mountain .. no switchbacks, no breaks. Zip didn’t quite make it to the top. He freaked out when the boulders got bigger than cars and the cracks between them you couldn’t see the bottom. I had to push him up on a ledge then when I got up there with him he decided to run down where I had just pushed him up and kept wanting to go down. So, I had to tie him up to a boulder and listen to him yelp as we left him for the summit.
After reaching the summit at last (Probably the hardest time I have had summiting a peak .. I was wore out) we headed back down to rescue my dog get back to camp. We had tried to take a different route down but after making it part the way across a boulder field with most the boulders the sizes of cars … we decided to head back down the standard route.
That night and the next morning Zip was pretty much beat and dead to the world. When I would try to get him to come out and be social he wouldn’t want to come out of the tent or get up. When I would get him to get up he would sneak back to the tent and onto my sleeping bag as soon as I wasn’t paying attention. I ended up feeling sorry for him and carrying his stuff back out for him.
After getting back to the trailhead we found out that there had been a couple bear incidents over by where I had hiked back on Wednesday to take my pictures of Maroon Bells. Two hikers were bit through their tents though there were no fatalities and both should be able to recover fine.