Backpacking Lost Creek

Near the beginning of the Lost Creek Loop. Photo by Zach Minard

Near the beginning of the Lost Creek Loop. Photo by Zach Minard

Russell and I were tired, but the sweeping views of the Lost Creek wilderness area were perking up our spirits. Granite domes and spires dotted the forest landscape below us from this hillside perch. We were less than a day into my first backpacking trip ever, bogged down by all sorts of unnecessary items, including an 18 pack of cheap beer.

“Did you drink your beer?”

“No. Did you drink yours??”

“Nope.”

Beer just didn’t sound appetizing, but we were trying to force ourselves to drink it to cut the pack weight. We had set up camp the night before in twilight, tying the hotdogs that had been donated to us with some baling twine, using that to tether the hotdogs in the creek to stay cold. The next morning we had purified as much water as we could carry, and the containers were now tied to our bags haphazardly with the same twine, swinging with every step.

I had never been backpacking before but had always wanted to go. When I was about 8 years old I saw a backpacking backpack in Costco and somehow convinced my parents to buy it. I dreamed about all the adventures and far away places I would take the bag. With the big year-end trip coming up I asked my dad to mail the bag to me along with other backpacking essentials like my hatchet. Just minutes before the beer conversation, I had discovered that the muscle milk cartoons I brought had exploded all over the inside of that bag. It was now covered in chocolate-y protein drink.

That afternoon, we came to the area’s namesake campsite. Here the creek disappears into a rock cave next to a small grassy campsite. While preparing for dinner we learned that the second hand stove I had bought did not work so we cooked over an open fire, and crawled into our sleeping bags, trying hard to stay to our sides of the tiny tent Russell had brought.

The boulders and scenery of Lost Creek. Photo by Zach Minard.

The boulders and scenery of Lost Creek. Photo by Zach Minard.

The next morning, we spent a few hours crisscrossing back and forth over the creek to find where the trail continued from the campsite. We eventually did, and started up the big climb over the pass. Eventually we hauled ourselves over the pass, fueled by trail mix and peanut butter and Nutella tortillas. With it getting a bit colder we were looking forward to a hot meal at our next campsite. We had been given a few packs of dried noodles and had been saving them for the last night. When we took them out of our bags we learned that they were dangerously expired. Our only remaining option was to make the packets of instant oatmeal that we had brought for breakfast.

After hiking the few hours to the car, we finished the loop with more than half of the beers left. We had simply been too tired to drink them. I’ve since been back to the South Platte and Lost Creek many times, mostly to rock climb on the granite spires and domes, but I always remember the first trip, the experiences had despite the complete lack of preparation. Rest assured, no beer went wasted on those climbing trips.

Zach Minard in Lost Creek. Photo by Zach Minard.

Zach Minard in Lost Creek. Photo by Zach Minard.