A Turkey Alternative
Instead of cooking up a big turkey dinner and stuffing ourselves to the
gills, we decided to take advantage of the 4-day weekend to go backpacking.
After weighing many options we decided on a point to point trip through the Lost
Creek Wilderness along two segments of the Colorado Trail. This would be Jean's
first backpack since breaking her ankle requiring surgery in the beginning of
June, so we both had our fingers crossed that everything would go well.
Thursday morning we dropped off a car near Wellington Lake and drove up to
Kenosha Pass where we strapped on our giant packs, loaded up Denali with his
4-days of food, and headed off. The weather was great and I could
already feel the effects of not carrying around a big pack for several months.
We had 30miles to go over the 4 days and Jean figured out that we could split CT
Segments 4 and 5 in half leading up to about 7-8miles per day. Perfect! It was a
nice change to leisurely hike taking in the scenery and views, taking frequent
breaks to eat and drink, and just enjoy life. There was a bit of snow, some ice,
some mud, some dry trail. After a few hours we were at the Rock Creek TH and
looking for the nights "home". We dropped
down to the actual Rock Creek and a small meadow and dropped our packs. Soon
after we had the tent up and fired up the stove for some hot drinks and snacks.
Instead of turkey we had one of our favorite camping meals... boil in bag pot
roast and instant mashed 'taters. YUM! The sun was down early and we crawled
into the tent for a chilly night. Note to self...bring the 4-season tent next
time. Of course Denali refused to lay on the pad we brought for him so we spent
the night trying to get him to curl up between our sleeping bags and keep a
jacket over him.
We didn't crawl out of the tent on Friday till the sun was up and warming up the
valley. A leisurely breakfast and packing up before we hit the trail. Climbing
out of Rock Creek towards the Black Canyon Saddle we had great views of some of
the Kenosha Range peaks and laughed about how we almost spent the night bivyed
Alphabetizer last fall. Another day of taking in the scenery and views, lounging
and relaxing during frequent break. Aaaahhh, life is grand! After about 4hrs we
were dropping down towards the Long Gulch TH which would be our next
"home" for the night. We ended up setting up shop right in the parking
area next to a fire ring so we could sip hot chocolate around a toasty fire and
dry out our boots. Another early night and instead of turkey leftovers we chowed
on freeze-dried food, already talking about
eating a big meal at the Platte Canyon Grill in a couple days.
Saturday morning we woke up to frost covering everything and a balmy 14degrees.
We packed up and Jean declared that "winter camping has lost its
appeal". I pointed out that it wasn't actually winter yet, but getting
close. Denali was doing his usual sensory overload sniff-fest of everything and
anything. Timing was good once again that we would start the morning going
uphill to help warm up. Still no need for the snowshoes yet, but we were in some
ankle deep snow. Of course if we didn't bring the snowshoes, we would've needed
them for sure. Topping out on the saddle at 10,880 we took a nice long break
knowing that we had a bunch of downhill to enjoy towards the North Fork TH.
Unfortunately this section of
the trail was pretty much iced over and was slow going. No worries though, we
didn't have anywhere to be or go for the day! A few hours later we passed the
Brookside McCurdy trail and I was telling Jean all about our lengthy
conversations of different uses of pine cones and bodily functions during the
LCW 11zee 12ers last month. At the North Fork TH we broke through the ice and
filled our CamelBaks then pushed on for another half mile to camp in the trees
and to make our last day slightly shorter. It was pretty windy aloft but the
tent barely shook down at ground level. Yet another early night and freeze dried
then attempts to put a down jacket on the dog....not happening.
Sunday morning we decided to forego the oatmeal and hot drinks and packed up
camp to get an early start. Heading up the old Hooper Road we finally put on our
snowshoes since we would be on north facing slopes all day. Kenosha Ridge
is where we had to put our brains to work when the CT separates from the Hooper
Road. Hhhmmm, according to the book the CT and Hooper Road join again in the
couple miles... but
we could try out some map and compass skills if we follow the CT...if all else
fails we could backtrack and follow the Hooper Road. The compass and altimeter
seemed to jive with the map, yet we were not seeing any tree strikes or CT
triangles. Oh well, things seemed right and the slight depression through the
trees hinted at a trail. Finally, we saw a CT triangle on a tree and the
occasional saw-cut tree that fell across the trail. We came across what looked
like switchbacks and more CT
signs...so far so good! After about an hour we popped back onto the Hooper Road
and let loose a big sigh of relief. Piece of cake from here on out for the next
5.5miles! WooHoo! We were in the "get the f#ck to the truck" mode with
greasy burgers and salads on our mind, even Denali seemed to know we were
getting close. Counting down the miles and landmarks, before we knew it we were
at the trailhead and could see the Yukon poking through the trees. Jean gave the
truck a nice big hug and we threw our stuff in and headed to Bailey for a eating
was the perfect way to spend the 4-day w/end with my best buddies in one of
Colorado's most beautiful areas. We toasted beers to knocking off a couple more
segments of the Colorado Trail and even better... Jean's first backpack since
breaking her ankle less then six short months ago.