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Travels of a Tripmuch, part 2

on April 1, 2014

I love the Lost Creek Wilderness Area.  It is an anomaly in the Rockies.  Instead of high ridges and upthrust mountains, it is almost pastoral.  Almost.  The mountains in the area are mostly rounded off and have these strange and wonderful rock formations all over the place.  A novel (“Black Mountain” by Robert Leisure) describes the area better than I can.

“Jim, I took only a quart of whiskey to help out my breakfast coffee, but I saw whales, teakettles, cowled monks, ships and sheep, frogs, dragons, Indians, colonial squires, kings, clowns, and goblins. It seemed like a city in the sky, its ornaments both noble and grotesque, a strange, secret place where silence in those tortuous corridors and rubbled granite avenues is broken only by the monotone of a crazy river.  I call the river “crazy” because it seems to hate the sunlight.  It forms 9 separate box canyons and flows as often under the ground as above.”

Yep.  That is what it is like.  Only better.

We were only a couple of miles into the place and already had seen two formations we wanted to explore.  The next day, we decided to cross the creek and find our way up the mountainside.  Bear Boy decided to stay in camp and make up for lost sleep (darn rock), while we wandered. After crossing the creek, we followed the trail beside it for a ways, then struck off uphill. I am glad to have observant friends.  They saw the little cairns of rocks leading the way long before I did.  The ‘trail’ went straight up the mountain, and I do mean straight up.  No switchbacks, nothing, just up and up and up, scrambling over boulders and shimmying under fallen trees.

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A break on the way up to the rock formations, Harmony Arch and Finger Rock.

As we progressed up the mountain, we could see the bare granite that these formations were sitting on to our right.  I was wondering how we would get to them. It turned out the track led us up and above the formations.  We came out of the trees and wondered across the lichen-streaked granite looking for them.

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We had to go up some more before we could go down.  It was an amazing place.  Water had carved shallow channels in the granite and green and grey lichen covered everything.  Trees grew in stunted forms in cracks where dirt had accumulated and boulders just sat there and made the water go around them.

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We did make it to the formations.  We stopped and ate a bit and yelled to see if there were echoes and we could see our campsite along the creek far below us. I found out after that we had hiked almost a thousand feet straight up. It took us about 4 or 5 hours total, up and back down.  We are not power hikers…..lol

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This is the largest Arch in Colorado.

This is the largest Arch in Colorado.

Back down again, sliding, slipping and testing footing we made it.  What a lovely experience.  We saw some hummingbirds, and picked some wild rose hips to dry for later.  Made for some lovely tea this last winter.  Brought back good memories.

I want to go again.  There is a trail that goes all the way around the outside edge of  the wilderness area and it supposedly takes 4 days to do it if you are not in too big of a hurry.  That is my goal this summer. Hopefully we can all get the same days off work and go for it!

 

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