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Maroon Bells Wilderness - Days 1 and 2

Diane and I went hiking in Maroon Bells Wilderness, near Aspen in Colorado. The area is known as one of the most beautiful in the United States, although also relatively crowded. We went for 7 days and covered a huge amount of elevation gain. Nearly the entire hike was more than 3000m above sea level, which made the trip pretty tough. 

On Friday evening we flew to Denver, where we stayed in a hotel. The next morning we met up with one of Diane's college friends who lived nearby and had kindly offered to drive us most of the way (Thank you, Garrick!). We had also had our bear spray and gas canisters delivered to him, so we would avoid an endless search across all the outdoor stores in the area, like last year's hike. We drove through many nice valleys. The landscape was much drier than I had expected and looked mostly like a relatively green desert. In a place called Glenwood Springs, we said goodbye and hopped on a bus that would bring us closer to the trailhead. We arrived at a ski town, where we ate some fruit as the last fresh food before the hike. We were 'only' at 2500m above sea level, but already noticed the effects of the high elevation.

 

We sent a final message home and started heading into the Wilderness. I had planned a pretty ambitious hike, with several optional shortcuts. We carried enough food to last us 7 days and would adjust our route as we went along.

Hiking down a dusty road

To get to the actual trailhead we had to climb and descend a large hill, which took about 1.5 hours. There was a parking lot at the trailhead and as soon as we arrived, a worried elderly woman came up to us. Apparently her husband was still on the trail and wasn't feeling well. She had rushed ahead with her disabled son to get some water. As we would likely be faster, she asked us to go ahead and bring it to 'Dave in the red shirt'. 

We hadn't even started our hike yet and were already on a rescue mission. Fortunately, we caught up with Dave after about 15 minutes, who seemed pretty tired and dehydrated, but not in any serious danger. His wife was only a few minutes behind us so after making sure Dave was doing well, we continued our hike. Soon after we left Dave it started raining. We put on our rain clothes and walked for a good hour before pitching our tent at a campsite. Fortunately the rain had stopped and we had some daylight left to organize ourselves. We had been walking uphill for almost 2 hours and would likely have to do that for the entire next day. Even then we wouldn't be anywhere near the highest point of our hike.