On the trail: Where the wild things still are | AspenTimes.com

On the trail: Where the wild things still are

Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

I hoped that a high-elevation hike this late in the summer still would yield lots of wildflowers. I was blown away by how great they were Saturday on West Maroon Pass, one of the best trails for flower gazing.

Friends shuttled me and my dog to Maroon Lake shortly before 6 a.m. I was overjoyed to have the hike up West Maroon Pass nearly alone. Two trail runners passed me, and I passed or met a handful of backpackers slogging through the Four Pass loop.

I watched as the sun hit the top of the Maroon Bells and surrounding high peaks. A gaggle of geese kept wary eyes on us as we slipped by. We didn't catch a glimpse of the moose that dips in the lake every so often in the early morning.

Before long, the soft morning light turned Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak aglow in their signature color, which usually is washed out as the sun creeps higher.

We had an uneventful trek up the pass. The wildflowers were good but not great on the final half mile before the rocks take over on the approach to the spectacular pass. Ginger and I munched a peanut butter sandwich in rare solitude on the pass at about 9:20 a.m. The solitude wouldn't last long. We saw clumps of hikers snaking up the pass from the Crested Butte side.

It was easy to ignore the multitudes once we descended off the rocky pass. The wildflowers were abundant all the way down to Schofield Pass Road, where the same friends who dropped off us picked us up. So what if many of the daisies were wilting and the corn lilies were fried? A multitude of varieties were in full bloom in an array of colors all the way to the turn off to Hasley Basin. A few Columbines even persisted. At one spot in particular the aroma of the flowers was overwhelmingly pleasant.

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I smiled all the way to the trailhead and throughout the weekend at the Butte.

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