There are some areas that never fail to delight. Places that I enjoy for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the beauty, or the uniqueness or just the sheer bliss in going to a place that has seen so many wonderful memories over the years.
One of these places for me is the Lost Creek Wilderness. It is a place that is often ignored by many Coloradans (the highest peaks are "only" 12k ft) and feels very remote for being so close to Denver. It is my place of choice for both early summer hikes and late fall jaunts.
The weekend started off with a little camping near the trailhead. Nothing fancy..just some flat ground, a little campfire and some adult beverages.
Levon enjoying some 7up and Gin
The cast of characters for the weekend included Ian (Skittles) an AT and CT veteran and all around experienced outdoors person. Terry, who has been on countless trips with me over the years. Finally, Levon. Levon is a strong athlete..but, as I was too find out, still hikes in classic AT thru-hiker mode..which means a heavy pack! Levon was quite beat by the end..wheres the two "old" guys (Terry and 45 and me at 35) waited two hours in the parking lot for our friends at the end of the trip.
In any case, the fire was enjoyed, a beer was drank by me (an indulgence for me lately) and we talked into the night.
A warm fire, a cold beer and some ugly liner pants….
The morning was overcast and cloud were building up. It did not take a meteorologist to see that rain was on the way.
We climbed up the steep switchbacks and me our way over the ridge of overlooking Lake Park. There was no one back here…until we saw a couple who said to Terry and I "You must be thru-hikers". Odd statement, until we looked at their gear. It was thru-hiker gear! Turns out Terry and I both knew Mark from meeting briefly on previous trails. Small world… We chatted and continued.
The climbing continued with a descent and then back up again to the highlight of Lost Creek Wilderness for me: The Bison- McCurdy ridge. In good weather, there are amazing views to Pikes Peak and into South Park. Even in the overcast weather we were experiencing, the red rock formations never faill to delight. The bare, stark trees against the ruddy red rock coupled with the steaming light made for an other wordly view.
We continued along the ridge when I spied a man hunkered down with an umbrella. Who the heck is out here in this weather besides us ??!!
Turned out it was my goody buddy d-low!
Due to social obligations, he would not do the full loops but he could do a modified version on his own. He was going counter-clockwise so he could make two cameo appearences.
The weather was a bit chillly so we did not chit chat long.
Down the ridge we went and into the trees. We walked along the creek and open meadows that often categorize the LCW.
Towards 6:30, a good place was found to make camp. Tarps and tents were pitched, dinner was eaten and the warm sleeping bag soon found me into a deep slumber.
At 6am, Terry noticed me stirring. He said he wanted to hike alone a bit. No problem..I did the same thing at 6:45!
I enjoyed my solitude and the warm morning sun. The open meadows were inviting and pleasing to the eye. Of course, the red rocks continued to catch my eye.
About four miles from the end of the weekend, I caught up with Terry at a junction. About the right time for lunch, we shared our food and Terry was nice enough to brew up some tea. We lounged a bit and continued to enjoy the sheer bliss of being outside.
We packed up and decided to just meet the other two at the trailhead.
The trailhead was reached. Our gear was laid out to dry and took a nap.
Two hours later, the other two showed up.
We ended the weekend the same way it was started: A drink in the parking lot!
It was a good, challending and beautiful backpack.
It is the mountains that always call me back..and I always heed their call.