Barbara Sanders - September 23 2020
Epic Hike: Aspen to Crested Butte
Ispent the summer looking forward to finally hiking from Aspen over to Crested Butte. It’s an 11 mile hike linking two quintessential mountain towns. It's one of the most popular hikes in the area and one that I just had to experience myself. We booked a hotel, organized a shuttle to pick us up in Crested Butte, and a ride to the Maroon Bells in Aspen. Then, three days before our departure, we got close to 8 inches of snow, and everything was in jeopardy. But we were not going to miss this trip. What's a little snow?
Preparedness means happiness
That's spring summer and fall in the Colorado mountains - you never really know what the weather may do. It's a day hike, so it's easy to think it is not a big deal, and you don't have to prepare, but that kind of thinking could have serious adverse effects. I needed to be protected from the elements and comfortable. I decided that wearing a pair of yoga leggings, a shirt and packing a light jacket might not be the best way to attempt this hike.
The team at Corbeaux in Aspen made sure we had all the right stuff. Darcy Conover, co-owner of Corbeaux, athlete, skier, and mountaineer extraordinaire, suggested what i should wear and the gear i would need for a comfortable and worry free hike.
The key is proper "layering". I start with three layers on the top. I put on the Essential Tank first, then added the Silkyway Long Sleeve Top, and the Seeker Hoodie for the outer layer. For my bottom half she got me in the in the La Plata Legging . This high quality activewear legging is lightweight, flexible, and breathable - plus it's also a high performance base layer i can wear on cold days. Darcy also made sure we had hats, water bottles, and since it had just snowed, she suggested bringing Cat Tracks and ski poles.
So why the layering? How is it better?
Base layers are designed to sit next to the skin and wick moisture away from your body by absorbing moisture from the surface of your skin and allowing it to evaporate. By wicking sweat away from the body and drying quickly, a base layer keeps your body dry and therefore warm.
The mid layer should be more loose-fitting than the inner layer, as this leaves insulating air between the layers.
Two thin layers can be warmer yet lighter than one thick layer, because the air trapped between layers serves as thermal insulation. Discover more base layer facts here.
Time to Hike!
We hit the trail at 8 am sharp and started walking alongside Maroon Lake and toward the majestic Maroon Bells. It looked like we were walking into a postcard. Almost too perfect to be real. It was still pretty cold, so I had all my layers on and a hat, scarf, and gloves. We hiked for an hour, and we came upon a beautiful fox that was leaping through the air like his legs were Pogo sticks. Sometimes you get focused on the trail, so it was lucky at least one of us was paying attention.
Then we saw some people ahead who were zig-zagging up a steep tree-lined slope, so we followed. Not a good idea; after heading up for about half an hour, we realized we were off the trail and headed to Maroon Peak. Instead of looking at the map, we just blindly followed. We should have crossed the river to head up on the left side of the valley. Lesson learned, we backtracked and got back on the trail. Next, we met some fun girls from Denver who pointed out a gigantic Buck standing regally still in the distance. We bonded quickly and made a plan to meet them at Bones for a margarita in Crested Butte.
We kept hiking, and finally, we could see the top of the pass, but the snow and mud were not making things easy. We put on our Cat Tracks to keep us from slipping off the side of the mountain.
Mission accomplished, we made it to the top and celebrated with our new friends and shared snacks and a tiny bottle of Cuban Rum and Fireball. I had shed a few layers by the time we made the summit, so I quickly put them all back on to stay warm and dry.
We still had about 2 hours of hiking left, but it was mostly downhill and meandering. Once you got out of the snow and mud zone, you got transported to Austria and the Sound of Music set.
We missed our shuttle, so luckily, our new girlfriends had room in the car, and we traveled back to Crested Butte with them after a quick stop to dip our feet into some frigid mountain stream water. Wim Hof would have been proud. Our GPS had registered 13 miles by the time we got back to the parking lot, so it was a pretty solid day.
The margaritas and appetizers at Bones were the best I had in my life. There is something to be said about feeling like you deserve it! We toasted our epic day with our new friends and headed straight to the hot tub.
What to Pack
Corbeaux La Plata Leggings
Corbeaux Essential Tank
Corbeaux Seeker Hoody
Corbeaux Sky Beanie
Corbeaux Large Billed Trucker Hat
Bivy, Trail App, or Map
Water with Electrolytes
Silkyway Long Sleeve
La Plata Leggings
Take route 82 west out of town. At the traffic circle take the 2nd exit onto Maroon Creek Rd (route 13) and continue up the road for 9.4 miles. The parking lot is just before Maroon Lake and tends tofill up for overnight parking in the summer.