The SnowCap Loop

Snowmass Mountain and Capitol Peak Combination

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Day 3

also visit: Day 1 or Day 2 or the Main SnowCap page

The next morning we took our time packing up camp before starting the hike out. It was so beautiful it was hard to leave.

We continued down along the stream. It was difficult sometimes to tell where it was though. It would occasionally appear in the middle of a snowfield and disappear just as fast. There is no real trail to follow. There are several Elk and Deer paths but they are inconsistent. Good navigaton skills are essential.

When you get down to the Mount Daly run off it is tempting to cross the stream and use the animal trail on the other side. Don't be lured into this though. Further down the valley that side cliffs out several times.

When you finally reach the area that the valley widens you will need to cross the stream to get to the other side and look for the Haystack Mountain trail. Crossing isn't very easy though. The valley bottom is covered with deadfall. (Well a lot of the trip below treeline is covered in deadfall) It's also very marshy down there. At least when we went it was. Perhaps in a dryer year or later in the year it won't be so bad.

The one nice thing about all the deadfall is there are tons of bridges around, be careful though some of them disintegrate as soon as you touch them.

Once we finally worked our way to the other side we got to walk across much more enjoyable terrain.

The valley had a lot of elk tracks in it, but we were not fortunate enough to see any.

The dandelions were in full bloom. They seem a lot more beautiful when they aren't in my yard.

Looking back up the valley at Clark Peak on the left and Mount Daly on the right.

As the trail descends it wanders through a very mature Aspen Grove.

We found a few bear paw prints in the mud on the trail.

The trail crossed several more streams. Beautiful, but also a reminder of the big crossing ahead.

Jason hiking through the lush undergrowth.

Just before reaching the valley bottom we came across these falls that are created by an irrigation ditch. As you enter the valley floor you will reach a trail junction with two gates. The one to the left (north) leads to the Snowmass Creek Falls Ranch and is private property. The one on the right is the public access trail that will take you down to cross the creek.

This picture does not even come close to showing how much water is flowing though here. The first half of the crossing was by far easier than the second half. I don't have pictures of us crossing because I wrapped up my camera and stuffed it down into the middle of my pack just in case. This crossing took quite a while as we had to try several routes before finding a way. The worst we had to do was thigh deep and flowing pretty strong. It would have been extremely difficult to keep my balance if I hadn't have had my hiking poles. I also found it very helpful to have a pair of water shoes with. They were just a $4 pair from Walmart but made it possible to keep my boots dry yet still have good traction while crossing. Jason brought sandals, but since they didn't strap on well he lost them to the current.

Looking back down at the crossing from the trail above. Only a mile of easy hiking remained.

We reached the final gate and knew the trip was over. It had been a great three days, and we couldn't have asked for better weather. The Lord had truely blessed us on this trip.

while driving back out I got a picture of Capitol Peak from the top of Watson Divide. Capitol Peak is in the Middle, K2 just below and to the left, Mount Daly on the right, and the notch of the Wandering Dutchman Couloir on the left.

also visit: Day 1 or Day 2 or the Main SnowCap page

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