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Aspen and Crested Butte are hours apart by car and probably worlds apart in attitude but only separated by 24 miles on a map. Many hikers are starting to take one of a number of mountain passes on foot and stay the night in the other town and then hike, bike, drive or fly back the following day. Depending on the route chosen and the ability of the hiker, it takes about 5 to 9 hours to hike between the two towns. Most hikers choose the trails that converge on 12,490-foot West Maroon Pass - the shortest of the available options at 10.5 miles. The trail offers a steady uphill from either side, with ample time to prepare for the last steep and loose rocky sections before the pass. Backpackers Jeff Kennedy (cq, left in red shirt) of Green Bay, Wis. and Michael Schultz (cq, right in white shirt) of La Crosse, Wis. make the descent off of West Maroon Pass on to the Crested Butte side on the left after climbing to it from the Aspen side on the right. The two were making the Four Passes Loop and camping out in the area. (MARC PISCOTTY/ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS) CQ Jeff Kennedy and Michael Schultz

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