August 2002 Zirkels Backpacking Trip

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

This was our second try at making it from Buffalo Pass north. The route was basically the Continental Divide Trail, and didn't get much lower than 10,400ft until the last day on the way back to one of the cars. This was a ~27 mile trip over 3 days. Started at Buffalo Pass, the first night was at Luna Lake (8 miles in), then it was over Lost Ranger Peak (+12000ft), and on to Island lake for the second night (west side of the Divide, ~11 mile day), and finally back down the Lone Pine Trail to the car (east side of the Divide, ~8 mile day). Sadly, since this sounded like it could be a punishing trip, Bozo stayed home... He probably could have made it.

Day One

We left Fort Collins early in the day and drove to the Lone Pine trail head west of Walden. There we dropped off my car and piled into Chip's to go to Buffalo Pass.... Little did we know the entertainment we'd have going up the pass. Part way up, we got a flat and shortly after that came up on a cattle drive that we sat behind for 15-20minutes moving slowly up the pass. But after that, it was a nice day. Got started hiking ~11am I believe.

Maybe a half mile up the trail from Buffalo Pass, Erin, Chip, and Andrew. The really surprising thing was the number of flowers we saw in August in what had been an extremely dry summer. The Zirkels got more rain than other areas of the state.

Looking down on a small lake from an overlook where we ate lunch.

Looking northeast (towards Walden & Rawahs) from the lunch overlook. Nice view of North Park.

Looking southeast from the lunch overlook, another nice view of North Park.

This split rock is probably 3-3.5 miles in, it's at the top of the second to last decent before going into Luna. Had a nice snak here.

Decending into Luna Lake. The water was higher this year than last year. The sand spit was totally exposed last year, and there was more sand beach as well. Again, nice flowers for August.

Me sitting on hill above Luna.

Another one of me sitting on hill above Luna.
No views of camp that night. We ended up camping on the north side of the lake and had chicken pot pie for dinner after the rain stopped. Managed to get the tents pitched just as the rain was starting. Didn't last long, and then it was a nice night.

Day Two

This was going to be the tough day. 11 miles up and over Lost Ranger peak. On the plus side, most of the uphill was going to be in the first 3-4 miles.

Some nice flowers on the way up along a stream to !!!????!!! Lake (just above Luna).

Another view of flowers

Another view of flowers

Erin and Andrew making their way up hill. This was a pretty side trip.

Another flower shot from along side the stream

Another flower shot with a small water fall.

Chip strolling up the trail. This was around a mile from camp, and we'd probably done ~60% of our vertical for the day. Though we weren't to the top of Lost Ranger yet.

Chip coming up a bit closer.

Erin walking along

Andrew enjoying the view.

I _think_ this was RoxyAnne Lake but can't recall.

view of a rocky area as we started climbing to Lost Ranger's peak again.

Anothew view of the rocks. Slide & Roxy Anne lakes are down in the valley below this area.

Erin looking back at the peak of Lost Ranger. The view north here is where we're going. We've topped out for the day. Mt. Zirkel is the high peak in the background, and the car is parked by the end of the ridge to the far right.

Another view north before the descent. The trail down hugged the shrub line. We had lunch after the initial descent where we could get out of the wind.

Chip in the lead, Andrew, and Erin as we're back down to rolling hills. This was a very enjoyable day of hiking.

Chip with Lost Ranger Peak behind him (the big flat topped peak). Hard to believe looking at that that we started the day on the other side. This photo is just before the descent to Island Lake (another mile away).

The top part of the valley down to Island with Chip's hand in the picture :-)

Island Lake with Andrew attempting to catch fish. Chip had better luck further down the lake. Erin and I just took a dip in the lake to clean off and enjoyed the weather. I believe this area got hit by the fire later this summer.

My tent (foreground) and Chip's tents.

Erin's 10'x10' tarp for his ultralight backpacking. Him and Andrew shared it. It got put to the test tonight.

Another view of Erin's tarp. The rain had let up a little at this point and we were filling up water/cleaning dishes. We were very glad for the tarp. We got everything setup before the rain hit, but it rained a lot and hard that night and it was nice to have something for all 4 of us to cook under (enchillada's plus Erin 3pounds of chocolate/butter/sugar/graham desert!) and play cards under.

The stream/valley below us.

The stream/valley below us again.

Island Lake in the evening. Trying to show the fog rolling across it. I had wandered down to try to find my sunglasses again that I had dropped earlier that day... Never did find them

Another view of Island Lake in the evening.

Day Three

Erin and Chip hiking up the last large uphill on the last day. This is just east of where we started the descent to Island Lake the day before.

Erin & Chip again, same area.

Flower... Can't recall why this shot now, but it must have looked nicer at the time!

Panoramic view from the top of this hill. Note this is a 24mb file.

The Lone Pine Trail just as it drops off for some serious downhill.

Similar image. The trail follows the cairn at the bottom left of the photo.

This photo is actually on the trail up to Lake Katharine (a fork off the Lone Pine Trail), I wandered up this way while we were waiting for Chip to catch up.

Another view of the log & stream

Another view of the log & stream

Another view of the log & stream
And a mile or so later, we were back at the car and ready to drive back to Buffalo Pass and then back to Fort Collins.

A very nice trail. Both times I've been up here, I've enjoyed it a lot. Next, I want to try going north out of Bear Lakes area and up over Mt. Zirkel.

Another trip I wanted to do was RoxyAnne Lake (from the east side of the Divide, not Buffalo Pass) up to Lost Ranger and then down Red Canyon and back (a loop). Erin did this and enjoyed it, but the forest fire in late August/early September went down Red Canyon as well as the west side of the pass, so not sure how it will look in 2003.