The distance from Aspen to Crested Butte is 24 miles as the crow flies…we are not crows! If you’re in a hurry, the flight from Aspen to Crested Butte is 11 minutes. But if you’re interested in a mother/son/dog bonding experience with some spectacular scenery and an awesome workout, there’s nothing like a 12 hour hike to Crested Butte and back with an overnight in this quaint, low-key town far from the hustle and bustle of Aspen, especially timed with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in town. They were dancing in the streets and some characters even came in costume. We took the West Maroon Pass which is the most popular route through the Elk Mountain Range. It’s best to start early before 9am which we did in order to give us enough time to scurry over the highest pass (Schofield) at 11,800 feet before the usual afternoon thunderstorms roll in. Although it’s never a sure thing in the mountains as we got plenty wet at one point. Sydney was not a happy camper in the rain but she was styling in her camouflage backpack carrying her own food, water, and snacks. The pure beauty of the mountains and wildflower-saturated valleys that separates these towns is justification enough to spend more time on trail than in town. And you meet the nicest people on the trail. I somehow dropped my sunglasses (loved them) on the way and I mentioned it to a passer-by who took my # just in case. Well, she delivered them to The Ginger Cafe, the cute little Thai restaurant we ate dinner on the one main street in town. There is a god. Truly, this is one of the most beautiful hikes anywhere and a challenge to most. At one point on the way back to Aspen, Lance Armstrong zipped by us at the highest pass while we were enjoying a leisurely lunch. We found out later that he ran the grueling 4-Pass Loop, 27 miles and 8.000 vertical feet in 5 hours 40. He was chasing Rickey Gates who completed the loop in record time of 4 hours 35. And just to think for us mere mortals it takes 6 hours to do the 11 miles from Crested Butte. I cherish this memory with my son. He will no doubt do this hike many times in the future but he will have to say he did CB and back for the first time with his mother.