I hope this works….

If you don't experiment, you don't learn.

Wilderness Adventures: Part the first.

How a 4 day camping trip turned into a 3 day, which turned into an overnighter.

Comedy Girl and I had been planning this trip for almost a year. We wanted to do a 4 day trip into the Lost Creek Wilderness Area. Start at Goose Creek and hike around the area at 6 miles a day until we were done. The dates were from the 11-15 of August.

At the end of July, Comedy Girl gets an offer to open a Comedy gig in ABQ New Mexico on the 13th and 14th of August. We confer and decide to push the start day back one day and make it into a 3 day hike. No problem, we only have to walk just a tad over 7 miles a day.

Meanwhile, I decide we need another person in our group so advertise on some local hiking meet-up groups I belong to. No one is able to hike during the week. Back to square one. I am still looking for another person and find a young lady who is an experienced hiker and she is able to get the time off. I get a hammock together for her and we are ready to go.

The 10th arrives and I pick up my two companions and we head out. About a quarter mile into the hike, the trail splits (this is a loop we are hiking) and we decide to take the more difficult route at the beginning of the trip rather than the last day. We head off down a valley that has a stream which we cross….many times. About an hour later the trail takes us up out the drainage, so we eat lunch and fill up our bottles.

As we eat, it starts to cloud up…..quickly. By the time we are done, patters of rain are falling. I do not like getting wet, It just complicates things when on the trail. Then one of our party members can’t find her rain gear. I lend her my pack cover, as I have a poncho covering my pack but it doesn’t quite fit, her sleeping bag is sticking out on both sides. I do not like this, but she urges us on. I make an executive decision and say that we will keep on going, but if it becomes more than a sprinkle, we are turning back.

It turns into a deluge about 10 minutes later. Thunder and lighting are flashing and booming and we are out of the valley and into Aspen meadows. Not a safe place to be. Clouds are lowering around us. It looks like a good old Washington State rainstorm, not the little sprinkles of Colorado.

I am not familiar with this trail and don’t know if there is good camping up ahead or not, so we turn around. I want to get back to the stream, as there is more cover. We find a big fir and spread out our largest tarp over some of the bottom branches and sit…..and wait….. an hour later, it starts to rain harder. There is nothing for it. We need to turn back and head for home, Everyone gets wetter, but we make it out in good time. As we drive back to the city, we make plans to meet up again the next day and at least try to stay one night. We run into hail and find out later that Hwy 24 was closed for a while. It was a big system, so I felt better about leaving.

The next morning we arrive at the trail head and head right at the fork. It is a pretty trail and the rock formations are fabulous. We can see Harmonica Arch and the Finger rock formations from the trail. Goose Creek is bigger than Hay Creek and there are oxbows, beaver dams and small ponds to look at. We run into at least 3 groups of ppl who are planning on doing the loop in 4 days. sigh. We make it to the historical site and turn off the main trail to visit. There was a company that tried for 22 years to dam Lost Creek..from 1891 to 1913, they poured tons and tons of concrete into the creek, but never succeeded. The creek always found ways to go around the concrete. We decide to hike the quarter mile down to the Pump house where all the action took place.

Part the Second continues the saga. I am falling asleep right now, so see you later.

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Travels of a Tripmuch, part 2

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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