Mudslide hits one of the Bells | AspenTimes.com

Mudslide hits one of the Bells

Aspen Times Staff Report

Photo courtesy, Jim Upchurch.A mudslide last week covered a popular trail near the Maroon Bells.

A mudslide last Wednesday sent tons of mud and rocks down one of the Maroon Bells and covered a 100-foot-long section of the heavily traveled hiking trail to West Maroon Pass.

“It cut a whole new drainage,” said Aspen District Ranger Jim Upchurch. The slide occurred about a mile south of Crater Lake during a downpour last week.

No one was injured but a couple of tourists witnessed Mother Nature’s grand show. “They said it was amazing to watch,” Upchurch said.

The slide would stop when it hit a level stretch of terrain then creep further as more debris moved off the steep, higher slopes. The slide ripped a gash in the mountainside starting about halfway up the Bells.

Pictures show maroon-colored mud littered with rocks slightly larger than bowling balls scattered at the bottom of the gash, which obliterated a meadow that had been crossed by the trail. Ultimately the debris reached West Maroon Creek.

The debris appeared about three feet deep.

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Forest Service workers placed flat rocks across the debris zone where the trail was covered. The rocks allowed hikers to cross without sinking into the ooze. Horses probably won’t be able to use the route until the material stabilizes, Upchurch said.

The slide area can be seen from Maroon Lake if a person looks closely, according to Upchurch.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]

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