Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gibraltar Lake

At the west end of the Camp Dick / Peaceful Valley campground, the Middle Saint Vrain Road turns to 4WD. We hoped to drive 4 miles to its end and start our hike towards Gibraltar Lake from there. Unfortunately, the entry to the 4WD part of the road was more than we were prepared for. We watched a couple of guys arrange rocks so their truck wouldn't bottom out. It looked treacherous so we decided to hike in from there. For the most part, the road wasn't too bad but there were a few dicey 4WD areas and some muddy flooding. The guys driving it weren't going much faster than we were on foot.

After 4 miles on the road we began the hike we intended to do. Blue sky day, Aspens turning yellow, lots of walking. We took the Buchanan Pass trail to the St. Vrain Glacier trail to a point where it wasn't clear where the trail continued on. It probably crossed the creek but there were some cairns on our side of the creek that led into a talus field.

The talus was rough going. We took a break for lunch on a bit of a plateau, then decided to head south and down off the talus, into the valley, to try to find the trail. Soon enough we hooked up with it, crossed the creek one or two times, and made it to a lake. Whether that was Gibraltar Lake or not, we're not sure -- some of the terrain didn't look as expected based on our map, so we may have been at one of the other nearby lakes.

The Elk Tooth was to our north. Its steep sides are loose and crumbly but it looked like the ridge could be a good scramble someday.

After a short while at the lake we turned and tried to take the correct trail back. It stayed on the south side of the creek for a while and then we lost it somehow. A bit of off-trail hiking, a bit of figuring out where to cross the creek safely, and we were back on trail, avoiding the nasty talus. It was a long day in the woods -- 16 miles total in 8 hours.

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