Backpacking Maroon Bells Wilderness

Living in Manhattan makes it surprisingly easy to drive to the Rocky Mountains in a three day weekend. While I’ve always been a fan of exploring locally, from time to time it becomes necessary to go hiking somewhere spectacular. Four members of the Manhattan Outdoor Club met up Thursday with a plan to do just that. We drove west to meet up with five members of a Denver-based club called the Western Outdoor Adventure Hub. That night, we drove until very late and slept at a small dispersed campsite in White River National Forest before continuing on early the next morning to Maroon Bells Wilderness. Over the two days that followed, we covered 28 really intense but absurdly scenic miles of the Four Pass Loop trail. Major obstacles included deep river crossings, four steep mountain passes, thunder hail storms, frigid cold and scorching hot. We hiked until late Saturday night before camping, then woke up early Sunday morning to continue. In the end, only four of us completed the circuit that afternoon while the others turned back in favor of a more leisurely hike.

After getting off the trail, we all met up again in Aspen and consumed an enormous pizza. From there, we drove out to Frisco for a pretty moderate fireworks show. And then we drove to Denver to sleep for the night. Sunday morning we did some easy hiking at Green Mountain park just outside of town before driving back to Manhattan.

Advice for the future: It was a pretty successful trip. Maroon Bells is an awesome place for backpacking. Future expeditions to this trail however should probably plan for at least three days to complete the loop and be especially attentive of the weather which can really slow you down.

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