Buckskin Pass Trip Report – July 22, 1998

Wednesday 7/22/98: We planned to do a 28 mile loop hike but we changed our minds due to the numerous 3000’ climbs on the route. Snyder and I drove into Aspen and went to the National Forest Service office to check snow conditions for the weekend, then drove to Maroon Lake by mid-afternoon. The road is restricted use, but overnight backpackers are allowed to park here. Day hikers must take a bus from Aspen and there were tons of tour buses in the area during our departure. Maroon and Crater Lakes were especially mobbed with day hikers but the crowds all but disappeared once we hiked out of this area. It was a brutal climb out of the lake area, but that helped eliminate the crowds. We hiked over 2000’ in the hot July sun and found a nice campsite on an overlook that had great views of the Crater Lake valley. Thunderstorms threatened us all afternoon but we managed to escape the storms with only a few sprinkles. Had a killer fire this evening and I spent most of the evening reading Into The Wild.

Thursday 7/23/98: We got a late start today since we had a short hike to Snowmass Lake and left the campsite at 10am.  Climbed another 1000’ to Buckskin Pass for a lunch break. From here, the trail descends rapidly to Snowmass Lake and we found a nice campsite tucked in the woods near the lake. We passed about 10-15 other backpackers on the trail today, but only two of them were camped at the lake tonight. Fished most of the afternoon and we both managed to catch some 15-16” Rainbow in the lake. We cooked up dinner around 6pm, then fished some more until it got too cold this evening to continue. Unfortunately, there are no fires permitted in this area so we were in the rack by 10pm tonight.

Friday 7/24/98: We were up at 6:30am today and on the trail within an hour for a seven mile hike to Maroon-Snowmass trailhead. We didn’t see a soul until 2-3 miles from the parking area, then there were people everywhere. Once we hit the trailhead, we started walking toward Snowmass Village and hitched a ride into town within five minutes (from a young couple with a four-wheel Subaru Outback). In town, we jumped the local bus to Aspen, then rode on to Maroon Lake by 1pm to retrieve our car. Our arrival was met with a huge thunderstorm, so we quickly loaded our gear in the truck, then headed back into town for the night.