CONUNDRUM HOT SPRINGS
It was end of October when we left Utah and we aimed to arrive in New York by November, so we only had a few days to make the distance in between. We made plans to visit some friends and family in Denver, Colorado. On the way there, our local Denver friend told us about a hot spring that you can backpack in and of course we have to make a stop for it!
Conundrum Hot Springs is only about 20 minutes from the ski resort town, Aspen. We arrived at the town the night before so we can start bright and early the next morning. Following the Conundrum Creek Trail, it is about 8.5 miles to the hot springs, so it makes a great overnight backpacking trip.The trailhead starts at an elevation of 8700ft and it goes up to 11000ft. I don’t know the names of the peaks that surround the trail, but I am pretty sure that they are all 13ers, if not 14ers. It was a very gradual uphill the whole way, but because it was at a high elevation, I was huffing and puffing and took many breaks to catch my breath.
Snow-covered tree tops and surrounding mountains painted a beautiful picture for us along the way. I can tell why this trail gets very crowded in the summer time. The sun came out and melted the frozen mud under our hiking boots, and the trail became more and more muddy as we hiked. Squishy muddy trail was probably my least favorite part. Other wise, we felt pretty isolated in nature as we only saw a few people making their way out.
We arrived at the hot spring just before sun set and the best part was that WE WERE THE ONLY ONE! That is another perk for going to places during off season. We had the whole place to ourselves. The pool was huge that it could probably fit 20 people comfortably. As usual, we snacked in the hot spring and just admired the beautiful mountains around us. A couple people showed up later and joined us in the hot spring. Interesting thing was that they both left their job in San Francisco as well and had been road tripping through the country. We shared our route and found out we were pretty much following each other.
Now came the saddest part of the trip. With the hot springs all said and done, we were excited for a hot meal to warm ourselves for the cold night to come. I took out the camping stove just to find out that one piece of the stove was missing. SIGH. No fire. No hot food. Our hearts dropped. Good thing we brought an abundant amount of snacks. It was only 5pm, we slept very early with one goal in mind: wake up and hike out. It was a very cold night, but it’s okay. Lesson learned. Always check your gears before you go.
When the morning came, we were two happy people who looked forward to a big meal at the end of the downhill hike back to the car. We got another morning soak in the hot spring before we left. Needless to say the hike out was just as awesome as the hike in. Overall, it was the most scenic hot springs we had been to, making our short stay in Colorado pretty memorable.