Mt. Zirkel Wilderness 2007


Backpacking Route:

We started out from Slavonia trailhead in the Routt National Forest.  Camped the first night off the trail up from the Gilpin Creek about a half mile from the trail head.  On the second day, we crossed into Mt. Zirkel Wilderness and hiked to a high alpine lake.  Day three, we took a short trip over to Big Agnes Mountain (12059 ft).  After returning to camp, we packed up camp and skirted around the drainage to a camp site ~1/4 mile from Gilpin Lake.  Fished Gilpin Lake the third night and all of the fourth day.  On the fifth day, we packed up and crossed the Continental Divide at Ute Pass.  We then made our way down to Bear Lakes and camped that night near the lake.  Sixth day, we crossed back over Continental Divide and made our way to Gold Creek Lake, which we camped a 1/4 mile from.  After a little morning fishing, on the seventh day, we returned to the Slavonia trailhead.

Link to trip photos


Trip Overview: (by Marella)

This year's backpacking trip would be different from the Weminuche trip last year for several reasons.  Instead of the San Juans, our trip would be set in the Routt National Forest north of Steamboat Springs.  Instead of four people, we would only be three, although we didn't find out until months later that Kathy was unable to go because she was pregnant with twin girls!  And our trip would be a few days shorter, much to my disappointment.  But the Wilderness is the wilderness and summer just wouldn't be complete without spending some time hiking and sleeping in the middle of nowhere!

Since Kathy wasn't going, the planning was left up to me.  We wanted a place close to Ali's house to make the trip shorter for Dad, and so we chose the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, encouraged by the incredible pictures I found online.  I also found the website and used a lot of recipes from there that made for easy cooking and clean-up.  The meals were super tasty and we had a lot of variety, including everyone's favorite: curry chicken pita sandwiches!

Although I tried to plan our route perfectly, we ended up altering it as we went along, mainly cutting the number of peaks from 3 to 1 and adding a short foray to the eastern side of the Continental Divide.  We tried to fish in as many lakes as possible while still putting in the distance (23 miles) and elevation gain (6,900 ft) that would help us in this year's Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon.

In the end, it turned out to be a wonderful trip.  Timber and Dillon still refuse to show their age and continue to amaze us at how well they can scramble up peaks and swim in very cold lakes.  We learned that a few dead trees (OK, a lot of dead trees) don't even come close to ruining a beautiful wilderness and that there are endless possibilities for adventure in the mountains of Colorado.