Brian and I made an attempt on Castle Peak on September 15th. It had been five years since I was in the Aspen at all and even then it was a quick trip to meet Angie to get Matt home. (I-70 was closed due to a sink hole in Vail.) I had never been up the Maroon Creek Road, and let me tell you it winds through a very beautiful valley.
The road eventually turns to dirt and becomes more and more difficult. You can actually take a jeep or ATV most of the way up the mountain. As for us, Brian took us up past a couple switch backs, and then we parked just below a nasty hill. No use tearing up his SUV when we came to hike! We hiked up the 4WD road that you can see in this first picture. We parked down below tree line in the valley you can see in this photo.
We hiked to the end of the road to a parking area. From here the trail traverses a boulder field then gains the ridge behind the cliff at the left top of the second photo. Castle Peak is the mountain you can see behind this foreground peak/cliff face. Brian has been having trouble with his neck from all those years of hockey. At this point it was really starting to bother him so we had a decision to make. Push on or turn around.
The weather had been looking sketchy all morning long and as we looked up to the ridge above we could see that it was snowy from the night before. Other hikers were going on, but we decided to turn around. The ridge is only rated Class 2, but Brian said it is challenging. I was looking forward to the climb, but I didn't want to push our luck either.
On the hike back down we met up with a lady and her dog. As we chatted with her, the poor dog took a rest. As she started to move on, she couldn't get Fido to get up: he was pooped. Quite funny. Once back at the truck, we headed down and caught up to gal and dog. We gave her a ride back to camp.
Brian and I contemplated a short hike to the Maroon Bells viewing area, but instead decided to get lunch at a great sandwich shop in Aspen. I can't remember the name, but it is directly across the street from the Aspen City Market. Thanks for buying lunch Brian! We'll conquer Castle Peak another day.