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11/23-26/06
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 LCW backpack 02.JPG (222473 bytes)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 droppedLCW backpack 03.JPG (190520 bytes) 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 after LCW backpack 04.JPG (148118 bytes)the 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 aboutLCW backpack 05.JPG (219092 bytes) 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 LCW backpack 06.JPG (206586 bytes)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 dinnerLCW backpack 07.JPG (251102 bytes) 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... LCW backpack 08.JPG (263664 bytes)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 CTLCW backpack 09.JPG (218335 bytes) 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 bonanza.
LCW backpack 10.JPG (270314 bytes)This 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.

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