A Thirty Hour Pass – Bison Peak Backpack, Lost Creeek Wilderness

Squeezing in time for backcountry pursuits can sometimes be difficult. Social obligations, limited time in an increasingly busy work week with also limited time to  play catch up on  weekends and then managing relationships among friends, family and significant others.  Add children to the mix and free time is esp rare. So it was with great pleasure that I was able to bring Josh out for a backpacking trip in the Lost Creek Wilderness one weekend.

A month or so ago, I e-mailed my good friend Josh about coming on a backpacking trip with me. With two sons ages two and five, I knew much planning would have to be done in advance.  As were making the plans for the trip, this appropriate article over at Backpackinglight.com came out.

How to strike a balance between career, family and nurturing relationships while still making the outdoors part of my life?  As I find myself at the start of sharing a  life with someone, and starting to think long term about such "adult " things as a retirement plan, increasing my skill set for employment, savings, and, yes, possibly starting my own family,  they are thoughts that weigh on my own mind.

Josh and his someone Marni are among my closest friends. Over the years I've known then, I've turned to them to for advice,  they have been there for support when I needed it,  and I've helped them out when I can in my own modest way. We've also spent countless hours together over the years in not only the backcountry, but also at birthdays, weddings, dinners and many other events in our lives.   When they started their own  family, I've been lucky enough to share many parts of their sons' lives, too.

At this point, they are more family than friends. And as someone and I have started to share a life together, it pleases me that the two boys have taken to her as a family member, too.

Part of the trip was to spend time with a close friend and let him enjoy the wilderness. The other part was to have a bull session on many of the topics of above and similar.

As the plans came together, we were able to get what we called "A 30 hour Pass".  

We had limited time in the backcountry, but we made the most of it.

As typical for this time of the year, the area chosen was the Lost Creek Wilderness.

I love the Lost Creek Wilderness.  It is a mix of subtle beauty consisting of aspen groves, lodge pole pines, wildflowers, wide open meadows  and flowing creeks.  It is also home to austere and otherwordly red rock formations that seem to not belong in the high alpine areas but somehow seem fitting in this environment.

Local guide book author Gerry Roach phrases describes the LCW best:

"You can hike hours through trees, then burst upon a private universe far above roads and cities. These summits let you taste freedom and touch the sky. They will draw you back."

The LCW is truly among my favorite places in Colorado.  The beauty is not as extreme as such places as the San Juans or the Sangres, but it is a place the always seems to gladden my spirit. To remind me of why I love Colorado and being in the backcountry in general.  It is place where I am indeed always drawn back.

The thirty hour pass started at noon Saturday. A later start than my usual outings, but a time that worked well for both myself and the Zapin family. The normal weekend activities were able to be done, Marni had some time to get a run in and it allowed Josh to take off with me for a bit. The only downside? I think Avery was disappointed he could not come with us! 🙂

After a pit stop along the way for lunch, we arrived at the Lost Park trailhead. A trailhead slightly off the beaten path, the trail from the parking lot almost immediately goes into one of the wide open meadows that the Lost Creek Wilderness is known for.

Josh and Traveler at the Lost Park TH.  Traveler has missed backpacking, too! 🙂


Also from the start we saw some wild irises. The wildflowers would be among the highlights of this trip.


We had a short, but enjoyable hike along Indian Creek and the wide open meadows of the Lost Park area. 

Around six pm or so, we found a suitable campsite tucked a bit out of the way.


I took my Lunar Duo for the trip. Josh was concerned that it looked  small. But, once it was set up, the tent provided plenty of room for my 6'2" or so friend, one 5'6" triple crowner and a Lab to curl up at the foot of the short guy's sleeping bag. 🙂

Home, home on the grassy, glacier formed meadow….Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the two thirty-something guys play all day…

Josh and I set up camp, had dinner, built a campfire, enjoyed the brilliant night sky above and the slight chill of the early season mountain air.  We had much discussions ranging from the silly, to the intellectual to the heartfelt.  A good Saturday night as any I've experienced in a while.

The following day, some fantastic weather greeted us for our moderate, but delightful, 10 mile day. Up the trail we went to see the distant mountains covered in snow.

Lost Park is below

We continued along the trail and climbed higher. More mountains were seen and the views continued to be relished.

Josh and Traveler


We made it to the top of the Bison Mountain plateau and started our off-trail (but easy) hike to the summit of the namesake mountain.


As we came up further to the summit, we noticed the distinctive rock formation I called the Bison Peak Sentinel.


Further up we climbed and we able to  look back to expansive views….


..and the more subtle, but still striking, wildflowers.

Alpine Forget-Me-Nots

Alpine Primrose


We reached the summit area and enjoyed the all encompassing view.


The summit register was signed and Josh summed up the trip nicely.


We made our way down the trail and stated noticing more day hikers and backpackers. Once we were past Bison Pass, though, we had the trail to ourselves again.

We arrived back at the meadow and enjoyed some last views of Lost Park before we headed to the car.


The car was reached, cotton was changed into and a quick post-hike recovery beverage was drank (beer!) before we headed to Southern Sun to meet up with the rest of the family and enjoy more post-recovery nutrional aids (Beer and burgers!)

A brief trip, but an enjoyable one. A trip that shows that it is not always possible to get out as long as desired when having a family…but there is still adventure to be had and wilderness to be immersed in. Sometimes solo, sometimes with the family and sometimes with a good friend.

All the photos

The Trip Details

The trip route: As mentioned, this was a short trip of perhaps 15 miles. We hiked in about five miles from the Lost Park Trailhead, set up camp at the last creek crossing before Bison Pass and then hiked out to Bison Peak the following day. We then headed back.  We pretty much followed the trail #607 (Brookside-McCurdy Trail). The route up to Bison is easy to follow if you have rudimentary map skills (or be like some hikers I saw and ask me how to get to the top. 😉 )

The map: Trails Illustrated map #105 Tarryall/Kenosha Mountains is the map we used. My copy is getting worn!

Permits: a $3 fee for parking (the TH is near a campground; I suspect that is why) and a free, self-signed permit at the wilderness boundary

Dogs: Yep. But, like most wilderness areas, they are supposed to be on-leash

Other routes:  This loop is my favorite.  I also want to make a loop of this off-trail traverse I did as a day hike back in 2008.

Post Trail Noshing: Southern Sun or SoSun to us lazy locals. There are choices closer to the LCW, but joining the family for dinner was nice.  Coloring available for the kiddies!  The Blackberry wheat and a Junk Burger was a fitting end to a great weekend, too! 🙂 

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Josh Zapin
12 years ago

It was an amazing trip. Thank you so much for getting me back to my routes.

12 years ago


8 years ago

What conditions should I investigate if I want to go in middle or early May (mother day weekend and avoid graduation in Boulder )? Or am I just nuts for thinking that I can go so early in the season.

8 years ago
Reply to  Casey

In other words if I were to check snow pack for area do you recommend any particulars? (Currently reading in greater detail your Dominguez canyon trip report.