As I alluded to in Day 3, today was going to be one hell of a day going down Aasgard Pass.
Ohhhh boy. Here we go.
We all awoke pretty early, filled with excitement, anxiety, dread or a mix of it all with the challenge we had before us. It was a beautiful, clear morning with the sun just starting to hit the mountain peaks before us as we broke down camp.
Looking back, we should have spent more time sitting and enjoying the surroundings. It was absolutely epic and easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.
Again, I was last to get ready (see foot) but we were on the trail between 8 and 8:30 AM.
The gang had little to no idea how bad the way down would actually be – we just knew it would suck.
And suck it did.
Going Down Aasgard Pass
Aasgard Pass Specs
- Elevation: 7,800 feet
- Colcuck Lake: 5,600 feet
- Trail distance: Less than 1-mile
Loose rocks. Steep terrain. Now, repeat for 2,200 feet.
We took it slow. I mean, reeeeaaal slow. I’ve never spent two hours or longer on less than a mile of trail before, though, there’s a first for everything.
We saw a couple rangers half way down and they asked us for our permits. The gang kindly obliged. (Make sure everyone has one just in case). We also snagged a trash bag from them as the one I was carrying was getting destroyed and had started to tear. Remember, pack out what you pack in.
Out of the seven of us, only one of us took a tumble and that was Adam. Thankfully, he was a trooper and luckily his camera nor he broke. Just a small cut on his hand. Watching him tumble head over heel, with his pack on, in slow motion, was something you’d expect only in a movie but here it was, happening right before my eyes.
The culprit? Another rock that looked stable and then proved otherwise. If there’s a lesson learned from this trip and especially when hiking to/from Aasgard Pass, make damn sure where your stepping will hold you.
Besides that, we all made it down in one piece.
For me personally, I was exhausted. The mental toll it took to go down was severe, and I was in no mood to hike another five miles – though we had to.
The fact that every step coming down had to be calculated – being nearly 100% certain the rock I was aiming for would hold or the dirt I was going down wasn’t the beginning of a rock slide – was daunting.
Once down, the conversation began about which way we would have rather done this. Up Aasgard with full packs, or down Aasgard with lighter packs? I’m still torn. I can’t imagine going up that thing with ~55 pounds on my back but it’s also good to know you won’t tumble down the trail because you’re leaning into the mountain. I’m still undecided on which I would rather do and for the time being, I don’t really want to think about it. #AasgardPTSD
Now down, the path around Colchuck Lake felt like a fairy tale. It was, as you can suspect, an actual trail, made from dirt. God Bless America!!
Even though we had had lunch at the back of the lake, I was beginning to crash as we made our way down to the parking lot.
The adrenaline had worn off and I was sick of walking with 45 pounds on my back. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in this mindset. Everyone else was done as well and there were hardly any words spoken as we
ventured speed walked down the trail.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity (coupled with the mile/time estimates people gave us which were laughably inaccurate) we reached the trailhead and our cars.
We all made some sort of disgruntled, yet relieved sound as we took off our packs and tossed them into the car. The feeling of sitting down, with AC blowing in our faces, helped as the numbness our bodies felt slowly wore off.
Then, to our surprise, we saw a bear galivanting on the road, just minutes from the trailhead. A wonderful way to end an amazing trip with fantastic people.
With that, the best backpacking trip of my life had come to a close, though it had created a lifelong friendship between the seven of us.
Now, we turn our gaze towards the next adventure which will surely be here before we know it.
If you missed the previous blogs from this trip, you can find them below:
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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