17 September 2009

North Maroon Peak

3 August 2003

Following last weekend’s failed summit attempt, I knew I needed to do something difficult (to me) to maintain and build upon what I gained on Challenger Point. Ferenc graciously allowed me to accompany him to the Maroon Bells, my favorite autumn destination. This would be my first trip there during the busy, crowded summer. I backpacked into Crater Lake in the dark Friday night, while Ferenc camped in his van in the overnight lot.

We were to meet at the North Maroon trail junction at 6 a.m. Saturday. I planned to go up with him as far as I could before turning back to shoot wildflowers and be his "basecamp." Ferenc hoped to meet up with other amiable hikers planning to do the traverse (a VERY difficult route connecting the two Bells) and willing to allow him to tag along.

En route to the trailhead register, I came upon a porcupine in a tree, which resulted in me sacrificing yet another summit (attempt) to capture yet another mammal on film close-up. Because of the late start, Ferenc, who had never seen a porcupine, decided after a couple of shots of his own that he should not wait for me to finish my antics and headed up the mountain alone. Ferenc missed a party of five who did the traverse 45 minutes ahead of him. However, he reported the views of nearby 14ers Snowmass and Capitol from the summit of North Maroon are breathtaking.

Meanwhile, I followed the porcupine nearly all the way around Crater Lake. He seemed to be better at route finding than me until he crawled up a slanted boulder from which he could not escape without backtracking. But there I was. He flashed me a dirty look and returned to the boulder summit. I tried to back up slowly without falling and without taking my eyes off him, just to make sure I didn’t encounter his powerful self-defense system. He eyeballed the downclimb once again, then backtracked a little further down the boulder and gave me the evil eye once more. By this time, I had put the camera away and wanted nothing more than 10 to 15 extra feet between me and the beast. I worried about what he might do if I turned my back on him, since I had in essence unintentionally cornered him. He climbed to the top of the rock one final time, and I made my escape. He studied the other side of the rock for a long while, then returned back to the base as if I didn’t exist and moseyed along the shore once again, this time unstalked.

When Ferenc returned from his climb of North Maroon, he asked if I wanted to climb La Plata with him. !!! We grabbed a pizza and went up Independence Pass to check out weather conditions. No lightning, but it was raining at the Pass. The Pass is about ten miles from the La Plata trailhead.

I was concerned about the extra mileage we’d be forced to hike at that late hour because we took his van instead of my 4WD, as well as how late he’d have to start hiking the next morning if we hiked until 11 p.m. I also did not look forward to hiking to my tent after midnight. So we did not attempt La Plata.


  1. Stunning!

    How can one believe this all happened by accident.

    Well captured.

  2. Thanks for sharing these seriously Superior Snaps. You live in God's Country, huh?

  3. I was reading this post and wondering "what on earth is he talking about"? I hike and climb myself. In fact I was at Crater Lake just last weekend, but I never heard of North Maroon Peak and did not recognize the mountain in your photo. Then I realized you were not referring to THE, (and until now I thought, one and only), Crater Lake. Oh well, I am sure yours is beautiful too.

    Oh, and that is a really beautiful shot!


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