The trip of last weekend reminded me of my love of solo backpacking.
Day hikes are wonderful. I get to see an area unencumbered by equipment. My day hikes are often how I choose to spend my social time. Experiencing the mountains and sharing the beauty that I see with others. The post hike burger/beer combo is also a great way to spend time with the people I now know so well in Colorado.
But backpacking, esp. solo, is different. To me, it is the most vivid and concentrated of outdoor experiences. What I need is on my back; all the essentials to live in a simple package. Since I am by myself, what I am experiencing is not filtered. It is only me, the mountains and the trails. When solo, everything I feel is raw and to the point. The views are a little more vaster, the challenges a little more difficult, the rewards a bit more felt. Solo amplifies the feelings, the thoughts and sensations. Solo backpacking immerses yourself in the wilderness like no other activity I have done . Solo hiking can be difficult. It can be challenging. But, for me, it is the the way I feel most content in the wilderness setting.
With these thoughts in mind, I set off again for the Lost Creek Wilderness (LCW). I knew my route would be difficult due to the lingering snow pack; I did not realize how difficult it was going to be overall!
I started the weekend off by hiking on the well marked, maintained and gradual grade of the Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trail skirts around the best parts of the LCW in my opinion. Still, the parts it does take in are nice. Vast meadows and silent, stately groves of aspen. If last weekend was one of striking vistas, this weekend would prove to be one of subtle, but rewarding, sights.
Once off the Colorado Trail, the "fun" began. Up high (11k ft plus and on north facing trails), there was still much snow pack. Enough snow pack to the point where the trail was difficult to follow. As with last weekend, I decided to go off trail and take compass bearings. By a combination of good luck and skill, landed right below the junction of the two trails I wanted to hook up with in Craig Park.
Craig Park was expansive. I sat down by the creek and just soaked up the scenery for an unknown period of time. It was peaceful and grand. The sound of the creek was perhaps the best sound to accompany how I felt at that moment in time.
The rumbling of my stomach and the time of the day told me it was time to make camp.
At camp, I could not help but notice how scratched up my legs were from all the post-holing. Old
snow can be like tiny razor blades on the legs. Ouch! I was too lazy/stubborn/stupid to not put on my long underwear. :O
The following morning again proved to be interesting for similar reasons. More post-holing in north facing slopes along with map and compass work. Rather than try to follow the north facing trail, I bushwhacked down to a creek, hooked up with an older, non-maintained trail down to the wilderness boundary. I then bushwhacked again up a small rise to the maintained trail at the lower elevation. Phew! Made for some slow going, but definitely faster than trying to find the trail through the snow. Once on the real trail again, life was a bit easier.
Playing around with my b-day gift from the Zapins: A Gorilla Pod. 
As I write this report, I am already thinking about my next jaunt. I can't wait to get out again. There is something about backpacking that keeps on beckoning to me. Keeps on making me want to be out for not just for a day or even a weekend…but for longer. As John Muir once said " The mountains are calling, and I must go".
All the photos