Written 11/1994. Trip taken 1991. Retrospective on a big week in RMNP.

Ron Miller

Ft. Collins, Colo.

ron@fc.hp.com

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1991 was a very good year for big hikes. Duane Wegher and I had bagged Comanche Peak that June and turned it into a nice circumnavigation of the Cirque Lakes by following the ridge around to Fall Mountain and returning to TH at Pingree Park.

Duane and I also did the feat of "Duane's March" from Pingree Park, Mummy Pass, Rowe Mtn, Rowe Pk., Hague's and had hoped to do Mummy before bailing off the ridge to Lawn Lake and out to the car parked at Lawn. Lightning shooed us away before we could wrap the Mummy. (See DUANE'S MARCH) I carried my video camera on this one and got a great shot of the wild elk herd bolting from us - complete with sound effects.

I was feeling frisky about hiking and backpacking.

My other hiking buddies- Barry Zuroski and Jeff Bossenbroek and I had a 3 day trip arranged for RMNP on Labor Day of 1991.

Friday

Car shuttle to leave my car at TH for N. Fork Big Thompson. (Lost Lake TH) Leave Barry's car at TH for Milner Pass/ Poudre Lake. Nice clear day. Ron was carrying #35 due to fishing stuff & fish cooking stuff, Barry and Jeff were carrying about #30. Jeff hadn't yet learned to fly-fish and was not convinced it would be fun so I carryied a 4 pc pack rod & minimum stuff to demo.

We started following the sort-of-a-trail along the Poudre River. Some mushy grass but generally a fine walk that generally led downhill. This was pleasant late in the season but would be ugly in June. Eventually the hint of a trail became very much a trail and we eased on along enjoying the gentle downhill. The Poudre is fairly wide but shallow as it descends the meadows. We reached the trail intersection with Hague Creek and turned up Hague Creek. The permit was for the X-C zone along Hague. All the designated sites were spoken for and seemed to be full. The Poudre, after it collects Hague Creek, is a *fine* river. Probably good fishing except for the camping pressure. We headed uphill on the trail for awhile knowing that to be in our zone for the night we would have to cross the creek. At a non-descript point, we doffed our shoes and socks and waded across. (ouch! ooch! eek! ) Cold water and tender bare feet.... We dry feet & re-don boots and start looking for a campable site. It took awhile. The meadows adjoining the stream are very mushy & wet. The trees next to the meadows are on a moderate hillside. We spread out into a skirmish line to keep looking. I found a partially eaten elk carcass.

Eventually, perhaps 2 miles up, we found a suitable dry land island among the mush meadows and setup camp.

I rigged up the fishing gear, changed into mocassins and went fishing for dinner. Fish was not the MAIN course but the plan was to show these guys how easy these fish are....

I caught 2 nice pan-sized fish. As I was jumping to a rock overlooking a good casting hole, DISASTER.

The target rock was water-worn smooth and my tractionless mocassins slowly slid out from under me and into the water. I went in up to my chest in 2 feet of depth. YOWZA THAT'S COLD!

It's 5pm at 11,000', the sun has just set and I just fell in the creek. And out of the people in the party, I'M the one that gets hypothermic most easily.

I scurried back to camp, and grabbed up my sleeping longjohns and my fleece. The high-speed hurry and the activity of getting out of the wet clothes worked - I don't even get cold. But now I had some awfully wet clothes hanging from a rope strung between the trees. . Ah well.

Fishing ended for the night and I cooked up the two fish for Jeff & Barry. Tasty, but an awful lot of trouble. We ate ramen and regard the fish as entertainment rather than food.Things would have been pretty benign except I whacked my R knee on a rock and it got stiff.

A quiet night passed.

Saturday

We got up, in no particular hurry. Breakfast & packup. I wring out my trail clothes and put them on just before we're ready to go and so we're underway. I got kinda balky at the re-crossing of the creek. Jeff and Barry are about 8 years younger than I and much more agile. The hop across the creek is at my limit. We head up the creek awhile, and then bushwhack up the side of a hill for awhile heading for the Mummy Pass trail. Surprisingly, we find someone's camp and pass thru it on the way up. Once at the trail, we make good time and I start to dry out in the sunshine.

Onward we go toward Icefield Pass. Big stands of willows here but there are really big elk-highways thru here. Obviously this is the elk herd I'd captured on tape. (See DUANE'S MARCH) I carried my video camera on this one and got a great shot of the wild elk moves thru here. We can hear them bugling in the trees on either side of the valley. Much better to hear them in this setting than to watch them from your car :-))

Near the top of the hike to the pass is a ditch that used to collect W. slope water and channel it east. It now doesn't divert the water but is a serious water channel anyway. One can rely on available water fairly high up in this area.

At the top of Icefield pass, there was a storm coming in from the west and getting down the pass doesn't seem trivial. We descended on the rocks next to the snowfield but it was slow and tedious. I'm pretty tired from the work and the altitude. As we start to move away from the base of the pass, the rain begins. With lightning of course. On with the raingear and onward toward our permitted camp at Lost Lake. This is a really pretty area but it's hard to enjoy it when you're tired, being rained on and are getting stiff from keeping shoulders hunched up.....

We find the designated campsites at Lost Lake and we stand around in the rain with our packs off. At least our packs are off. But our mood isn't good. What are we going to do? A death-march for the car is discussed but it's 7 miles and we are pretty tired from the day's trek. But it's raining and no one wants to setup camp in the rain. Shucks. I get out the fishing gear and decide to entertain us with seeing what kind of fish are in Lost Lake. (The lightning had passed on) The fish are easy cutthroats. Catch & Release. But fishing takes our attention off the rain and it finally stops. About 4PM the site drains and we setup camp and then ease over to the lake to cook dinner on the beach.

Pre-sleep is entertaining. I am glad to be in my one-man tent as Jeff and Barry (in Barry's 2 man tent) conduct a stench war. Jeff's socks stink and Barry is farting up a storm from the dehydrated dinner. Jeff gets out of the tent to take the rainfly off so he can breathe. The rain is gone and the night is clear.

Then the night is quiet.

Sunday

We take our time about packing and head out. It's 7 miles of downhill to the car. The big excitement of the day was doing the car retrieve - stop in Estes Park to get gas but realize that the gas cap key is on the 'full' keyring at home and not with the 2-key ring I'm carrying. I can't find the official spare key that I put in the console when the car was new and speculate that the key slipped thru a crack in the bottom of the console and is gone. I sweat the drive up over Trail Ridge and back and all the way home to Ft. Collins. But it was ok. A spare cap key is procured immediately thereafter and lives on a big keyring on a large fob in the console.

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