Lost Creek Wilderness backpack with Miles
While camping last weekend near the Goose Creek Trailhead we were talking about going to Utah the following week after school let out. After hiking towards Hankins Pass I mentioned to Miles backpacking in the area instead. He quickly jumped on it saying that he’s always wanted to go on a long backpacking trip. I knew just the loop! 17 years ago I hiked a 24 mile loop in the Lost Creek Wilderness, and twice since I have run a similar loop… it would be perfect for a 4-day, 3-night backpacking trip for this time of year.
The next few days we packed, sorted, and figured out food. The last day of 5th grade (well, what was left of COVID-19 distance learning) was on Tuesday and we left Wednesday morning. Goose Creek trailhead is just 1.5hrs away and we were hiking by 10am. My pack was about 35 pounds and Miles pack was about 15 pounds. We headed north up Goose Creek trail enjoying the scenery and taking snack breaks every 1 mile. We were rating the crunch factor of pine cones and talking about everything under the sun. After 4.5 miles we pumped water and talked to some other hikers that told us about a great camping spot ahead. Just 1 more mile and we found the little oasis with flat camping spots next to the stream with plenty of shade. It was an easy day of 5.5 miles and just over 2.5hrs of hiking. We snacked while glad that we brought along our camp chairs and flip flops, played in the stream, and set up camp. For dinner, Miles learned how awesome Mountain House Chili Mac tastes, and we were in bed early after hanging a backpack full of food in a tree and hopefully away from critters.
On the morning of day two we started our routine of making coffee, hot chocolate, and oatmeal in the tent. No rush to get started so we waited around camp for the sun then started packing up. The nice thing about backpacking is that each day your pack gets lighter with food! Around 10am we continued north up the trail knowing it would be a tougher day. After a bit of climbing we started west on the McCurdy Trail, the views get even better, and the trail constantly goes up and down. Refrigerator Gulch is one of my favorite spots in the area and you’re surrounded by rock formations and cool streams dipping in and out of the ground. At one stream crossing we sat on top of a huge boulder (lunch rock) and ate Ramen for lunch. Man, that tasted great! Next was more up and down then the trail turns to the south and a few hundred feet more gain. Miles was getting pretty pooped, so fortunately around 5.5 miles and 3hrs of hiking we came across our planned camp 2. Another great flat spot and a flowing stream. Releaxing, snacking, reading, and cards before an awful dinner of O-Meals pepperoni pizza. It was disgusting! Lesson learned.
Another good night’s sleep, our morning routine, and we hit the trail. Today was going to be all uphill. The trail climbs south along several switchbacks towards McCurdy Park. Plenty of water along the way and the trees thin out. After the turnoff towards McCurdy Peak we made more Ramen for lunch then turned onto the Lake Park trail. Slow climbing through lots of fallen trees and above 11k, even some snow patches. We finally reached the highpoint around 11,600ft. Awesome views of the peaks that surround Lake Park and we were glad to be descending only about a mile until camp. Near the lake we found another great spot to make our home for the 3rd night, dropped our packs, and recouped after a long day of 7 miles and nearly 3k of elevation gain in just over 4hrs of hiking. Miles was a whooped kid! It was marshy around the lake, but we filtered water and dug into delicious Mountain House lasagna. More cards (our own version of Solitaire called “that’s a good card puppy”) then early to bed.
The sun hit our tent around 6am which was energizing, and we started our camp chores. We were dirty and tired, but psyched for our last day of hiking knowing it was all downhill and real food was near. We could see Hankins Pass in the distance and a bit after a mile we heard Jean’s voice. She was hiking up to meet us and do the hike out. We told her all about our adventures and naming Miles “Nature Boy” since he nearly turned feral. A couple miles to Hankins Pass, then downhill through the aspen groves and tons of stream crossings. Plenty of backpackers were coming the other direction. We stomped through the last stream crossing and Miles started jogging up “Heartbreak Hill” to the trailhead. 6 miles in a bit over 3hrs of hiking and it felt great to drop our packs one final time at the very crowded Goose Creek Trailhead. Gatorade and Stax tasted amazing and after relaxing we headed home stopping at Mountain Burger to gorge on burgers and fries. We got cleaned up and watched the Simpsons movie while eating ice cream then pigged out on pot roast, mashed potatoes, and asparagus.
Such an awesome trip and Miles is really proud of himself for absolutely kickin’ butt. It’s so nice to get back to the basics of just walking, eating, and planning your days around water sources and where to sleep. We’re already planning other backpacking trips for the summer.