I’ve been jonesing for a backpacking trip.
Something simple where I walk. Follow a trail. And camp out for the night.
The Colorado high country is rather snowy right now. And driving very far is not sustainable in the long run for a weekend backpacking trip.
Luckily, the snow is starting to melt.
I went to my old standby for early season backpacking trips (if early season is later this year!): The Lost Creek Wilderness.
Red rocks, wildflowers and wide open meadows. And at or above 10k ft? Sloppy, a little snowy still and muddy. As expected.
But I had an ~25 mile loop in mind I have not done in about a decade. Only one small portion is above ~10k ft. Easy enough to figure out by looking at a map. So I’ll keep it that way. 🙂
I started later in the day as I will typically do for these quick weekend trips. No matter. The trail head had enough parking. Looked to be mainly day hikers.
Made my way past the wilderness boundary and started my climb up the trail.
As expected, some minor post-holing and route finding at or above 10k feet esp on the north facing slope. I suspect the LCW proper will be better in a week or so.
For now I’ll just enjoy the lower meadows with its vast open area.
And, of course, the red rocks, too.
I continued down the trail. It soon started raining. The current looked very strong. The stream raged more than I can remember.
I made camp. And settled in for the night with the sound of the storm lulling me to sleep.
I made my way out. Alas, the night seemed to have put some moisture on my lens.
But the morning was memorable. I spotted, what I believe, were a couple of Colorado Trail hikers: Late in the day on a Sunday, solo, one looking for the CT marker at a trail head.
I hope they are locals. Lots of snow up ahead for them otherwise. But, based on emails to me, people plan the trips when they do and find it difficult to alter their plan. Plane tickets sometimes trumps reality.
Nature has her own schedule. We can merely adapt to it.
In my case, it means car camping/hiking trips and some lower elevation backpacking trips as well.
The important thing is to get out. And if my original plans go by the wayside, then time to figure out something different.
Until then…happy trails.
Great site! I was thinking of day hike up Bison Pk this weekend from Ute Creek, supposing that SW exposure = fair conditions-little to no snow now & possible 3ish warm dry days to dry out. But now I wonder. Any post-holing on this route now? Should I expect it to be sloppy?
It will be sloppy but doable is my guess.
Thanks for your trip report. Can you tell me which trails you were on? I am considering a 35 mile loop next weekend that includes Hankins Pass, Bison Pass, wigwam trail and goose creek trail all from the goose creek trailhead. Not sure if the snow and stream crossings will make this a practical itinerary. Any thoughts? Am also considering a loop a did many years ago that starts near Paonia and goes into the Raggeds Wilderness via the Dark Canyon trail in Anthracite Creek. Doesn’t ever go much above 10,000 feet. Want to get into the mountains!
With the snow melt you will probably fine.. the LCW gets hot quickly though as an FYI
I did Bison Peak from the Ute Creek Trail this weekend. Totally dry all the way to the top. The pass is totally dry too. Virtually no snow left on top. Moist in only a few places. It was much hotter than I expected. Loads of mosquitos below 9,500 ft.
LCW typically gets hot rapidly in June.
Wow! I just came back from taking my two oldest daughters (ages 34 & 27) on the 35-mile loop that you recommended in an earlier post – from Goose Creek trail head. UNBELIEVABLE. Wild flowers and amazing views and constantly changing ecosystems. Saw a moose on day 1! Elk and deer on subsequent days. Weather was cool and dry for the most part with off and on drizzly rain that was comfortable to hike through. Only issue was the altitude. On days 2 & 3 I found myself winded so easily – 11,000 ft will do that to you! Anyway,… Read more »
That’s fantastic. Glad you and your family had such an enjoyable trip. With all the moisture this spring, it is an excellent year for wildflowers.