Forty-one miles, 9,600 feet of gain, with a high point of 12,900 feet over three passes and four valleys– that counts as a pretty long day in my book. Our friend Tim always tells Christy and I we’re “masters of the long day.” I guess in a relative sense experience does lend itself to smooth adventures, but just because I sum up our big days in 500 words or less doesn’t mean they all go off without a hitch. Besides, I’m not sure you can ever truly master anything out in the mountains, but in Tim’s defense, we do love to try.
So with the Bear 100 two weeks away, we were looking for one last long day on the trail. In search of something new and different, we decided to connect four classic valleys we’ve visited many times before, but never all in one push. Here’s the map of our Snowmass, West Maroon, East Maroon and Conundrum linkup:
From the Snowmass Creek Trailhead, we ran up towards Snowmass Lake, and headed over Buckskin Pass to Maroon Lake. Following the seldom used trail from the lake, we cruised down the West Maroon Creek Valley and connected with the East Maroon Trail. From there, we went over East Maroon Pass and down to Copper Lake. Our flirt with the Crested Butte neighborhood was brief, and we headed up to Triangle Pass, which placed us high in the Conundrum Creek Valley, and from there it was about 11 miles down to the trailhead. Pre-shuttled bikes and extra clothes awaited us, and we rode home in the dark, via Castle Creek Road.
What a day. As our first time covering all this ground in this style, our main take-away from the day was how lucky we are to live in a place where, even after years and years of getting out as much as possible, there are still so many new things to do. And if you’re not interested in the light and fast strategy, do this as a two, three, or even four night backpack for a more fun and less crowded alternative to the uber-popular and congested Four Pass Loop. Go give it a look.