Aspen wilderness rangers report ‘a lot of snow’ on trails above 11,000 feet
Hikers in the high country around Snowmass and Aspen should still expect to encounter “a lot of snow” above 11,000 feet, according to forest rangers.
Wilderness Ranger Jerome Olp of the Aspen-Sopris District was the first employee of the Forest Service and one of the first few people to hike the popular Four Pass Loop this season. He made the journey July 12 to 15.
“Expect wet feet the entire loop,” Olp wrote on the Four Pass Loop Facebook page. “Trails are muddy and often have running water on them.”
Hikers who venture on muddy trails, on the Four Pass Loop and elsewhere, have the responsibility to stay on the trail and not create new routes.
Olp advised hikers to count on the loop taking more time than usual due to travel on sun-cupped, soft snow for a good share of the trip. It’s also easy to get off course.
“Route finding is necessary as 60% of the loop is under snow and avalanches,” Olp wrote.
His picture of the West Maroon Pass area resembled winter more than summer. Olp said he anticipates there will be significant snow on the Four Pass Loop and other high-elevation trails well into August. However, there are a lot of opportunities to explore on lower-elevation trails. Anyone who has ventured out can attest the wildflowers are magnificent.
Shelly Grail, recreation manager in the Aspen-Sopris District, said there are a variety of challenges on trails throughout the district.
“West Maroon Pass is challenging to navigate because of snow. Yule is challenging because of avalanche debris,” she said. A bridge washed out July 2 across Hell Roaring Creek on the Avalanche Creek hike.
Grail advised hikers and backpackers to check the White River National Forest’s trail and road conditions report before venturing out. The report is divided into districts of the forest. Wilderness rangers update observations each Tuesday. The report is found at http://www.fs.usda.gov.
The latest report advises people that “backpacking over the passes will not be accessible until late July to early August.” Hikers should expect snow, downed trees, mud and high, cold, swift river crossings.