Our trip planning started with Doug’s desire to see the Maroon Bells, near Aspen, Colorado in fall colours. We booked a spot in the closest RV park in Carbondale, about 30 miles from Aspen, for September 28 and 29. The town owned Gateway RV Park is along the river just a short walk away from the town sign. Here’s Tali posing.

Tali

The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains and are one of the most photographed mountains in the United States. They are composed of metamorphic sedimentary mudstone that gives the Bells a distinctive maroon colour. The rock is downsloping, loose, rotten and unstable, but we had no intention of doing any climbing. It’s a really popular area, since the peaks are easily viewed within a few steps of the end of the road. A bus service runs from 8 am to 5 pm from mid-June to the end of September to deal with the volume of people.

We left most of the tourists at Maroon Lake and started our hike to Crater Lake, (1.8 miles up the valley) and caught some glimpses of blue sky. The weather was unsettled, however and soon we donned our rain gear to protect us from the wind and hail.

 

This grey jay took advantage of a puddle on a rock to get a drink.

 

We reached Crater Lake in just over an hour and took more photos of the Bells.

CraterLake

On our return trip, it rained hard enough for us to take out our umbrellas, but it was short-lived. It was beautiful hiking through the aspen forest.

 

By the time we were back to the meadow above Maroon Lake (just a few minutes from the bus stop) the sun was shining on the aspens. Doug was satisfied that he had seen the Maroon Bells with fall colours, even though it was more crowded and less of a wilderness experience than he first envisioned.

 

We saw all sorts of people on the trail, some that looked like they’d hiked before and others that looked like they walked off a city street. It was a moderate trail, but was fairly high (Crater Lake was just over 10 000 feet) and the weather changed quickly. It made us wonder if the people who bought the t-shirt with the slogan, “I survived Crater Lake” bought it for a joke or because they’d had a less than enjoyable experience.

Back in Carbondale, we visited the Roaring Fork tasting room in the historic district. Doug had a Triple IPA and Wendy enjoyed their Oktoberfest ale.

 

The next day we headed north on the 15 to Wyoming. About nine hours from Carbondale, we were in Buffalo, Wyoming. We stayed at the aptly named “Deer Park RV park” and watched the deer nibble grass in the playground. The turkeys wandered through in the morning.

 

One more day got us to Missoula, then home the next day. So if you are reading this in real time, you’ll know we’ve been back for over a month. (It’s so hard to write about a vacation when we’re home.) We’ve made reservations for next spring’s trip already. So until then….

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