The Double By-Pass

There are some places I love see at least once a year. The Lost Creek Wilderness. A favorite hike in the local foothills. And this loop that goes over the Continental Divide twice.

For those hoping to find a detailed description of the gear I took during the shoulder season hiking…go elsewhere. Backpacking is not about what gear you take, what titanium widget works best or if I footnote my gear choices with the proper attributes from the gear manufacturer. I just hike with the gear that I know works for me.

(OK..I did take some apple brandy. Made in New Jersey. One of the oldest distillers in the county! That’s MY kind of thorough research. I am qualified to endorse it because I think it tastes good.. )

Backpacking is about sights seen. Laughs shared. And perhaps a nice, warm campfire at night with some friends.

And on this weekend, I had all of those experiences in spades.

The day started off a little overcast, cold and windy..but still quite nice. My friends and I quickly made it to the 12500′ high Pawnee Pass on the Continental Divide. As usual, the pass was a bit raw and windy on top..but with views I never tire of.

Synthia approaching Pawnee Pass

As we neared Pawnee Lake, it seemed a storm was brewing.

October can always be a crap shoot for backpacking in most of the high country area through-out the country. Could be an Indian Summer..or an early winter. Luckily, while the weather looked like it my threaten we only received a slight bit of snow. Camping lower (9000′) also helped.

After a leisurely break at Pawnee Lake, we continued to make our way down the trail to a lower and lower elevation.

The meandering creek eventually turned into the ice covered Cascade Falls.

We reached the lowest point of the trail at a junction and started our climb up along Buchanan Creek. We then reached a stream crossing I remembered from last summer that had a great camp spot nearby.

The said spot was found…with a pile of wood left by some horse packers!

A warming fire was made as some snow gently fell. The apple brandy warmed up our insides as the fire warmed us outside.

The following morning was beautiful. Clear, crisp October skies greeted us as we made our way up to Fox Park and on to Buchanan Pass.

Once at the top of the nearly 12000′ high pass (apparently the Easternmost pass on the Continental Divide), I could not help all the early season snow that was already accumulating. Winter is on its way!

We made our way down the pass and eventually made our way to our vehicle. The weather turned just as we were driving away. Great timing!

An early dinner pit stop was made that Kathmandu in Ned. Bottomless cups of chai warmed me up (and perhaps energized me a bit!).

The trip ended (with one last pit stop for me: I helped a friend move a couch. When you have a do these kind of things. ) and we made our way back home.

My gear was sorted out and I could smell the remnants of the campfire smell on my gear. A reminder of a wonderful weekend…and a much better smell than my toxic socks!


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