Goose Creek Trail, Lost Creek Wilderness

This weekend we decided to explore Goose Creek Trail in the Lost Creek Wilderness. After our Chasm Lake hike we wanted something mellow: some exercise combined with the great outdoors. We also decided it would be a good chance to test our gear (ultra light back packing) our new sleeping pads (ultra light) and our food. We thought that one night would be a good test.

The Lost Creek Wilderness area is located in Pike National Forest.

Size:119,790 acres Elevation:8,000 to 12,400+ feet Miles of trails: 100 Year designated: 1980,1993. Hunting areas: 50, 501

See here for more information. Lost Creek Wilderness also happens to fall in the area of the Hayman fire (Colorado's largest fire.) The Hayman fire (named after the site of its origin near Tappan Gulch) burned 137,760 acres and cost (to date) $39,100,000. Here is the Hayman Fire website.

050730_crw_5601 This photograph shows some of the regeneration efforts.

Goose Creek Trail is in the Lost Creek Wilderness. Here is the USDA Forest Service's official site. We decided to try a different route to the Goose Creek trailhead. This way is definitely longer, and slower but we enjoyed the scenary and marvelled at the devastation of the Hayman fire, and the remarkable regenerative powers of nature. We took the 285 to Bailey and then travelled county 68 to Wellington Lake. The road meanders past Wellington Lake and then we took the Stoney pass road (FR560) south. At the intersection with FR211 go West. We passed the Goose Creek Camp ground which was closed. Then at the next T Junction take FR558 to the trail head.

We left the trail head at about 5:30pm. While we were preparing our packs a group was preparing for their hike a little differently: they had llamas as pack animals. I was intrigued. I am sure that llamas are very friendly (etc) but I look at them and can't quite get passed the fact that they remind me of camels. I don't like camels (much) due to an incident with a camel in Egypt. (It spat at me- enough said.)

050730_img_5608 Here's the llama party.

The start of the trail is a gentle well worn path passing through a burn area; a graveyard of trees and liquified, molten stumps. But after 3 years the forest is starting to restore itself. In the meantime, grasses, masses of wildflowers, wild rose bushes, and berries have taken advantage of the unexpected light to create a feast for the eyes.


We followed the trail through this garden. The trail quickly leaves the burn area and enters an area which surprisingly is absent of burn. Goose Creek Trail is very pretty. I loved this valley - green and lush at the bottom, and surrounded by large scraggy rock outcrops.

Since we were feeling especially lazy, we ambled along the trail and decided to make our campsite. We found one well away from the river, in a secluded spot surrounded by trees.


Here is our campsite.

We awoke the next morning to the sound of running deer. We ate a quick breakfast of squashed peanut butter sandwiches, a hard boiled egg and celery before breaking up camp and heading out.

050731_crw_5641 This photograph was taken at the furthest point on our hike. This was well before the turn off to the Cabin.

We hiked for a couple of hours before deciding that we were too tired. We turned back and headed for home.

We did not get to the cabin, or to see the other interesting sites. I did google search and came up with some interesting posts from others who have spent more time exploring this wonderful valley. These posts just inspire me to do more exploring. We certainly did not do Goose Creek Trail justice. We will certainly return. Soon.

Check out this website for a great description of the Goose Creek Trail hike, and some really beautiful photographs.

Chasm Lake Hike

Kevin has done this hike many times in the past. So I decided that it would only be right if I joined him. The plan? Leave the house at 11:30pm and drive to Longs Peak Trailhead (about 1.25 hours from home) Then hike up to Chasm Lake to watch the sunrise.

I decided I needed the exercise. Really. I tested out Kevin's ultralight backpack, Kevin took his camera gear, and off we set. There is something really special about setting out in the dark with just the light from one's head lamps. It is curious. I found the night oddly comforting, and watching Kevin's feet in my spotlight hypnotic. Since our fitness levels are about the level of a slug we set off at a slow but steady pace. We made good progress. The hike to Chasm Lake is 4.2 miles each way. The elevation gain is approximately 2300 feet. We dressed lightly and carried extra layers for any extended stops.

I have on previous hikes developed severe headaches (with nausea). I had read up on this and wanted to test out whether this condition was caused by dehydration or altitude. I had read that many hikers thought they were suffering from altitude sickness, when in fact they were suffering from dehydration.

So our hike up to the lake was slow and steady (as mentioned previously) and we made sure that I drank plenty of water.

At about 10,500 feet I felt the onset of a headache. I drank more water, I rested.

I was determined to hike to Chasm Lake and see the sunrise. I couldn't bear the thought of turning back. I am glad I didn't. It was beautiful. Quiet, and still. Longs Peak and Mount Meeker rise like giants. We could see the tiny moving dots of mountain climbing parties beginning their assault on Longs Peak. And as the sun came up I was able to see where we had hiked: through a verdant alpine meadow, with large clumps of columbine. We had crossed swiftly flowing streams, and walked paths with mountain views, and waterfalls, and alpine lakes. We had walked above treeline, and in amongst the forest. We heard robins and humming birds; disturbed ground squirrels, pika's and marmots. It was good. This is what I picture the Garden of Eden to look like.


And here is a picture of me proving that I had done it:


And another,


We got back to the trailhead at 10:30am tired. I had thought I would be able to drive - but I am ashamed to admit I let Kevin drive (I hadn't the energy to insist) and immediately fell asleep and slept the whole way home. We got home and immediately fell asleep.