Lost Creek Wilderness derives its name from a creek of the same name. Lost Creek is something of a geologic anomaly. It repeatedly disappears into what look like dams made of old, rounded granite-like rock. I suppose in actuality it flows underneath these dams only to reappear a few hundred feet or a quarter mile downstream. The natural sculpturing in this area is amazing and another visit on my part would be well worth the time and effort.
On this particular journey, I had slept overnight in McCurdy Park and woke to find the golden shafts of the morning sun illuminating the pink granite into a neon glow. Combined with the gorgeous weather of a June morning within a bucolic open meadow the feeling was one of enchantment and grace of being. I wandered around the meadow soaking up the now-ness of the moment as well as the morning’s dew on the grass. Soon enough camp was packed and we, that is the Original Pack and myself, trekked on down TR 628, the McCurdy Park Trail, via switchbacks into Lost Creek. The eroded granite began to take on some surreal qualities that left me in awe and wonderment. Huge boulders, rounded so as to eliminate any hard edges, gave the feeling of an architect gone made. The Creator certainly made this area a spectacle of mind and body.
Despite all the greenery and groves of aspens’ whispering leaves, visibly and audibly earning their nickname “quakies”, this area is somewhat dry and the dogs were relieved to wade in and drink from Lost Creek while I gazed at the geologic marvels that abounded. From Lost Creek we continued to follow the trail which then ascended to junction with TR 612, the Goose Creek Trail. I’m not entirely sure but I do believe that Lost Creek and Goose Creek are one and the same. At some point Lost Creek ends its disappearing ways and turns into a normal creek, if you will. So this lower portion of the creek is named Goose, while the upper portion that performs its odd watery trick is known as Lost. Anyhow, that is how it seems to me when reading the topological maps. Regardless, at the junction I turned to the north and began to descend an unnamed gully that led to Wigwam Creek and the trail, TR 609, of the same name.
Now, here is were I must confess to something that I would rather not. This gully was the sight of what some may construe as my most ignoble backcountry act. As I mentioned earlier, the area was fairly dry and standing water, while not scarce, was a couple or few miles apart from sources. It was a gorgeous “bluebird” day, scant clouds in the sky, the temperature nearly perfect. Perfect for me that is. For the canines, it was a trifle warm. So, naturally, they took every chance to immerse themselves when the opportunity arose. Well, except for Lucky Dog who wasn’t so fond of dunking herself and would only wade up to hear ankles. During this hike I had decided that it would be a great idea to keep the camera in one of the dog’s saddlebags so I could easily access it when I felt the urge to take a photo. Do you see where this is going? I stopped to take a quick photo and put the camera into Sheba’s saddlebag. Sheba, who, unlike Lucky Dog, loved to go for a swim at any given opportunity. I didn’t put the camera into Lucky Dog’s saddlebag, the same Lucky Dog who I knew wouldn’t instantly and without hesitation plunge into any large body of water. The trail and hike between the previous junction and Wigwam Creek was warm for me and most likely hot for the dogs. At least that was my assumption when Sheba spotted Wigwam Creek and made a beeline for the nearest deep pool of water. Since it was a slow creek and seemed safe enough with the flow being somewhat low I didn’t stop her. At the instant she dove in, water being sent up in a large wake, I recalled that I had place the camera in her saddlebag. Yes, the camera was ruined. So, no more pictures. And, I was out some hundreds of dollars. Well, at least I wasn’t lost, but I was kind of frustrated with myself.
So, that is the reason there are only a handful of pictures from this day and none from the next day, the final part of the trek. I have some fleeting memories of the remainder of the hike, but I do clearly remember enjoying the natural beauty of the area. Wigwam Creek Trail passes through some great open meadow country, including East Lost Park. This is great mid-elevation country, full of aspen and conifers just underneath and south of the ridge that makes up the Kenosha Mountains. The more I think about this hike, the more I have specific memories; passing the Rolling Creek Trail Junction and noticing the typical Forest Service guide sign and how relatively untrammeled that path was; going over the shallow pass between Wigwam and Lost Creeks; East Lost Park and exploring a bit downstream along Lost Creek; camping for the night in a small tributary about a mile from the Lost Park Campground and finding frost in the morning.
Aye, frost on a June morning at 9,800 feet. So, it couldn’t have been too late in the month. That morning, we had our breakfast and packed up. We continued to hike – past the Lost Park Campground which is located in a nice setting; up into Indian Creek and through a large meadow to a point where the trail began to climb up to Bison Pass. From the Lost Park Campground to Bison Pass, I was on TR 607, the Brookside-McCurdy Trail. Bison Pass is the location where I had first come up Ute Creek and its same named trail, TR 629. I vaguely remember being at the pass and thinking about how the loop had been completed and that two days ago I had passed this very location, only at that time I had a functioning camera. However, I was also a bit more contemplative and remember comparing states of mind between the inbound trek and the then current outbound portion. Two days’ difference in perspective made for an interesting comparison. The Ute Creek Trail returned me to my car located at the Ute Creek Trailhead. The hike down was fairly quick and warm, exposed on a southwest flank. The dogs were happy to soak in Tarryall Creek once we reached the trailhead and soon we were on our way. There was a small country store nearby and I was all to happy to make their service available to myself. I believe I had a Coke. On the return trip, I went north up to Jefferson and U.S. 285. On the inbound trip I had approached the trailhead from the south and U.S. 24. Gorgeous country all around, an area well worth spending some more time exploring and hiking.