Summer 2012: trip 1: a short visit to a small corner of The Great Wasted Forest of Northern Colorado

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Dreamer

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Mt Zirkel Wilderness 2012 July 10-13

I will be starting my backpacking for the season in mid/late June and am getting excited. Spending much time looking over past hikes, which I always enjoy. This trip was my first of the year after the long (2400 miles in 3 days) drive from my base in the North East.

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leaving Maine

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somewhere near Chicago

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the Mississippi

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Iowa

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Nebraska

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end of the asphalt

A former backpacking buddy, lost to rafting and sloth, introduced me to the small Mt Zirkel Wilderness along the Continental Divide in Colorado just south of Wyoming in 2003. I like using this area to warm up and acclimate after not hiking seriously since the last fall and coming from about 350’. I started out midday after sleeping near the trailhead and sorting my food and gear.

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Near here I met a local couple out on a day hike. We walked and chatted together on the way up to Mica Lake. They invited me back to thier home after my hike for a shower and bed. The start of a nice friendship, they receive all my food mailings and let me sort the summers consumables at their home to this day.

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Leaving the trail I headed over a saddle that looked good on the topo to a spot that had been hit hard by blowdown and then fire a few years back. Of course the whole region has been devastated by the beetle kill.

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The map showed a trail but it has been obliterated. Travel was easy enough in the open. I dropped down into some live forest then crossing a fork of the Elk River, skirted some private inholdings, regained a trail and reentered the Wilderness.

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The trail turned north and I continued along the river on a fading use trail. It was a mix of open wet boggy and heavy blowdown.

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I headed up a pass and then jumped a ridge to the side entering a hanging basin new to me for the second night.

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I went back over the ridge and up the remainder of the pass, avoiding the talus in favor of the snow.

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The last night I spent on a rise with a nice open feel and then out.

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After a pleasant and relaxed visit with my new friends I drove on up to my favorite range for more.

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#3
Wow. Big props for making that long drive. Definitely looks like it was worth it.
 
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#4
Beautiful pictures from your hike. I love those flowers and the high country.

Thank you for NOT showing a picture of a cornfield when in Iowa. I know we have a lot of them, but there are beautiful trees and rolling hills, too. :)

Pringles, an Iowan (who is allergic to corn pollen)
 

Miya

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#5
I am so confused and mesmerized by the photo of the tree...?! It looks like it is rippling. I have never seen anything like it!
 

Ugly

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#7
Thank you for NOT showing a picture of a cornfield when in Iowa. I know we have a lot of them, but there are beautiful trees and rolling hills, too. :)
)
I spent a lot of time in Iowa... are you sure? :D

In truth, I totally agree. Even in Des Moines there were nice little wilderness areas, short hikes, rivers and trees. I always could get into somewhere peaceful after a day at the office, and top it off with some great food besides.
 

Ugly

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#8
This report is excellent! I went back through it today. Love it!
 

WasatchWill

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#9
Beautiful looking area. Definitely looks like it was worth the drive. Thanks for the share.
 

powderglut

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#10
Awesome! I consider the Zirkel's and Flattop's my backyard. Some beautiful shots.... it looks like you found the North fork basin. The fires and beetle kill have definitely taken it's toll. Still......After some hikes this past fall, it appears the regeneration of the forest is slowly coming around. Thanks for showing us some of the wilder spots of the Zirkels.
 

Dreamer

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Thanks for enjoying and commenting.

Looks like you caught the wildflowers right in bloom. Very nice!
It’s not called colourful Colorado for nothing. That area has lots of water and super flowers.

Wow. Big props for making that long drive. Definitely looks like it was worth it.
Well that was my last (so far) of 7 round trips and I’ve decided that it is worth more to fly and skip that week of driving.

Thank you for NOT showing a picture of a cornfield when in Iowa.
Your welcome

I consider the Zirkel's and Flattop's my backyard.
OK, rub it in, you lucky dog.
 

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