Maroon Bells Wilderness - Day 6
I am not sure why Diane felt so much colder during the night, although I found out in the morning her mattress wasn't fully inflated and the wind might have been coming from her direction. Around 4:00 I knew our hike wasn't looking great. Diane basically hadn't slept the entire night and had already been tired from the previous days. We also didn't have many dry clothes, the weather predictions were bad, and we had to climb two high passess in the next 10 km, which would be dangerous in thunderstorms and didn't offer much possibilities to camp.
I didn't expect Diane to want to keep going under those conditions. Fortunately, in the morning the sun was out so I quickly started drying our clothes while Diane caught up on some sleep. When she woke up, I explained that there was a parking lot around 5 hours downhill from which we could reach civilization. That would certainly mean the end of our hike, but I didn't want to turn our vacation into torture. To my surprise, she didn't want to give up and end our hike. Instead, we decided to eat a good breakfast and make sure everything was dry before starting again. Having lost half a day, it would get pretty difficult to finish the entire hike I had planned, so we decided to take a slightly different route that would be about 20 km shorter.
The climb up the pass took another 1.5 hours, but wasn't too difficult. Fortunately, the weather looked good for the time being.
The view from the top was one of the nicest we had seen on our trip thus far, although it was pretty crowded with people on day hikes.
We started our descent and ended up in a valley covered with flowers. The bright colors with the mountains in the background made for great views. There seemed to be some rain in the distance, but we were getting sunburned where we were.
We continued along the same elevation toward the second pass of the day. Reaching that involved another steep climb with the last part going almost straight uphill over a rocky trail. The next section of our hike would be downhill for a long time and we were glad we had made it past the two passes in good weather.
The trail zigzagged down the mountain before continuing along a forested valley. I kept an eye out for any deer or bears but unfortunately we didn't see any. We saw people about every 30 minutes, which was a bit too much for my liking, although everyone we met was very friendly. As the route went downhill gradually, we quickly covered a great distance and made up for some of the time we had lost due to the storm the day before. We made camp next to a river.