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August 4 pass loop
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michael ficek
August 4 pass loop on 02/20/2013 17:48:52 MST Print View

My wife and I will be in Lyons on Aug 16-17, the week prior we are planning a trip. Four pass loop peaked my interest, minus the discussion of "not being alone." When we get a chance to get into the backcountry we like to see as few people as possible. We are relatively flexible on destination, assuming we can spend a solid three nights in the tent and get to Lyons in less than a days time. We have many nights of backcountry experience. We currently reside outside Chicago, however we spend a fair amount of time in the Truckee/Tahoe area. No doubt elivation will take some acclimation but dont see it being a huge problem. We havent had the chance to take a trip in over a year since we got married and want to plan one that is secluded/desolate and memerable. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you in advance

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: August 4 pass loop on 02/20/2013 18:26:48 MST Print View

4 pass loop is definitely beautiful but not sure it would be the best place to avoid seeing people. For that I would suggest doing something in the Flattops wilderness or the Weminuche or San Juan wilderness areas. I think whatever you do you will likely encounter quite a few people near trailheads but quickly get beyond those doing day hikes.

Option 1 - Stillwater/Trapper Lake Loop in the Flattops Wilderness (32 mile loop). I have route planned a loop around Trappers Lake and Stillwater Resevoir and includes a walk over the Devils Causeway for a little excitement. You will find stuff on the internet with pictures for each of those two lakes but I haven't found anyone that has put them together in one big loop. My route plan is on Forest Service trails and so is a solid route, not just cross country bushwacking.

Option 2 - Rio Grande Pyramid Loop in the Weminuche Wilderness (38 mile loop). Another loop that I am really excited about involves a loop around Rio Grande Pyramid in the Weminuche wilderness in southern Colorado. It starts at the Rio Grande resevoir and makes a full 30+ mile loop. That trip is documented pretty well here by someone else that made that same loop
That loop also includes an optional summit of a Centennial peak in the Rio Grande Pyramid (100 highest peaks in Colorado) if you are into peak bagging at all.

Option 3 - Conejos Peak loop in the South San Juan Wilderness documented here
It's a shorter loop at 22 miles but could easily be extended if you went a bit further west and incorporated Glacier lake into the loop.

Options 2 and 3 are in the most remote sections of Colorado and probably offer the best chance of complete or near complete solitude. Let me know if you need more information on Option 1. I have a full USGS quad with the route highlighted on it.

Edited by randalmartin on 02/20/2013 18:28:04 MST.

michael ficek
4 pass on 02/28/2013 17:54:35 MST Print View

When you say that you are not sure if four pass loop may be the best place for solitude do you mean that it will be like the AT during peak months or that we are likely to encounter people a time or two? I can certainly tolerate coming in contact with individuals, I simply seek private camp sites and a lack of the hordes on the trails. Also we are really trying to stay within approx a six hr drive of Boulder. Any additional suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
4 pass on 02/28/2013 19:34:37 MST Print View

Take this with a grain of salt as each time I've gone was after Labor day. Most people do it as a 3 night trip and do it clockwise. If you are going in the same direction and about the same pace, it won't be bad at all. Even better if you hit the trail early each day while most people are still in camp. I'd recommend doing it. It's beautiful. PM me if you want more info on logistics.

James Klein

Locale: Southeast
crowds on 02/28/2013 19:57:43 MST Print View

I went in late july a few years back. I would say after getting a few miles from the trail we saw probably 15 ppl over the 5days.

We only to share a campsite one of the 4 nights.

Was a wonderful trip.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: August 4 pass loop on 03/01/2013 22:52:54 MST Print View

I saw maybe 15-25/day while on the proper loop route (not lakeside campsites and half my route was not the normal loop). I also went CCW while I think most go CW so I was going over Buckskin less than 24 hours after leaving Indiana. Most of those people were not solo so that was maybe 10 "interruptions"/day. This was later Aug (23-30) so crowds may have started to thin by then with kids back in school (mine were). It won't be secluded (but you can choose to camp in some non-traditional areas), but should be fairly memorable. You can see my profile for a long video trip report if you wish.

michael ficek
4 pass on 03/02/2013 06:49:52 MST Print View

Michael Ray, sounds as though your feelings are a bit mixed about that can I find that trip report on your profile page?

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: August 4 pass loop on 03/02/2013 08:29:41 MST Print View

My trip report has a link to the videos in the first paragraph. Figured that may be more useful rather than pointing you only to the vids as I cover more things that I didn't on the vids.

I enjoyed the trip, but was too aggressive to start, which hampered me later. The MB-S wilderness is beautiful and you could do some alternate or off-trail routes that stay above treeline more in parts of the wilderness. I've found I prefer not to be walking through woods (if there are mountains to be seen).

I'm sure I'll go back again. I also wasn't trying to imply that the people were an annoyance, just that your solitude would be "interrupted" maybe 10 times a day. That should be less if you go with the flow, too. Though it depends on day of the week, too. Within a couple hours I saw at least 20 people coming up from the East Fork TH (S side of West Maroon Pass), passing by my site (never saw me that I know of) while I "worshiped" around that Sunday morning.

I do prefer going solo, but I like coming across others to chat briefly (if they wish) and share about going lighter. I talked with a trail runner at Trail Rider Pass that was doing the whole loop in a day (crazy to me though I know we have some here that do that kind of thing). He was amazed I was out for a whole week with just my "little" Golite Pinnacle. I also stayed in two "developed" campgrounds (Crater and Snowmass Lakes) for convenience and logistics sake.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
4 pass on 03/02/2013 16:14:19 MST Print View

"That should be less if you go with the flow, too."

That's very true. Far more people go clockwise so if you go counter clockwise you run into a lot less people. I sent Michael my "secret" plan for avoiding the crowds at MB and that was one of the tactics. It seems a bit counter-intuitive to do it the same way as everyone else to minimize contact with others, but that is the way to do it there.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
4 pass on 03/02/2013 16:19:54 MST Print View

"This was later Aug (23-30) so crowds may have started to thin by then with kids back in school (mine were)."

Probably true. Each time I've been there was right after Labor Day. That's when the Aspen school kids head into the backcountry for a week long trip. They split them up into groups of around 10 and take different routes into an area where the all come back together. I've only seen one group each time but thought it was great. It's good to be a kid in Aspen!

michael ficek
Re: Re: Re: August 4 pass loop on 03/02/2013 19:20:06 MST Print View

I have read your trip,report and viewed your videos and this looks like a great trip! Seamed like there were moment where the trail was a bit difficult to follow. Do you recommend a particular map or any additional literature? I heard you mention Conundrum Spring. That would be very desirable to my wife I'm sure. Can't wit to get into the maps to get this thing rolling!

Eli Zabielski
(ezabielski) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Clockwise on 03/03/2013 21:57:51 MST Print View

When we did it in early September (2 days - CW), the only time we spent near people was at the top of the 1st and 3rd passes. Otherwise we were always alone when walking.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: August 4 pass loop on 03/06/2013 13:18:33 MST Print View

Sorry for the delay, Michael, as I didn't subscribe to this thread.

The trail was only difficult to follow at times on my side trip to Pierre Lakes Basin. That is NOT an official trail. There's no trail at all once just below the basin. If you plan to add this to your trip, I'd try really hard to study that section of the video. I bet I would have a hard time going up the shelf again where the falls are as it wasn't easy to follow coming down either.

I used this map. You can see my very brief review there.

Conundrum Hot Springs is a neat spot, but it's quite popular. 2 things you need to know: 1) get there early as there are limited designated camping locations (16 sites I think) and 2) it's clothing optional in case that would bother you or your wife. You can watch that video if you'd like.

PM me if you post more questions so I know to look.

Vyacheslav Chetvernin
(vchetv) - M
Re: 4 pass on 03/06/2013 16:37:00 MST Print View

West Maroon Pass on Aug 18 2012West Maroon Pass on Aug 18 2012

Edited by vchetv on 03/06/2013 16:41:31 MST.