Monday, June 15, 2015

Rolling Creek Backpack Overnight

Time to catch up! At least a bit. Note: all photos with date stamps in this post, credit Kelly Bitner.

I met Kelly Bitner on the Colorado Trail Thru-Hike 2015 FB page. We have done several practice hikes over the past 3-4 weeks.

Last week, we drove to Pike National Forest in search of Rolling Creek Trail near Bailey, CO with our packs, hiking boots, trekking poles and more. We've noticed we learn something new every time we go out. Hopefully, we will have learned enough by the time we embark on the real thing.

Click on any of the images to view them larger.

Got to the trailhead ... now our first overnight begins.

Kelly waiting for me to take my photo opp

Kelly over the first creek crossing

Since we got a late start we only hiked about a mile and a half until we set up camp. Set up tents, got our bear bag hung, ate some dinner, and prepared for the night's sleep which totally alluded me! I was lucky to get an unrestful 4 hours.

But before I attempted to sleep, this was the nighttime sky with the moon brightening the view.
Sunrise on the mountains
I was awake prior to 5am. OMG, so unlike me, but I figured since I couldn't sleep, I'd eat! So I made my oatmeal, did my morning duty, and prepared to pack up.

I had a terrible time sleeping. My bag was too tight. I felt like I was in a straight jacket. I was also cold at only 52º! I began to wonder how I was going to make in the mountains at 10,000 - 14,000 ft this summer. 

Finally, I strolled over to Kelly's tent and asked, "Are you awake?" She was. After taking our time to pack up, we were on our way for a dayhike with 30+ lbs on our backs.


Delightful little side streams were relatively prevalent.

Kelly with some cool rock formations
The views were awe-inspiring. The smell of pine wafted through the air. So refreshing.

The sunlight fell on the rock formations making them stand out like soldiers marching.

Rolling Creek beneath the fallen trees

This creek crossing took LOTS of concentration! It was very challenging for me. In fact, at one point Kelly, trying to be helpful, started giving me some guidance. Immediately I said, "Don't talk to me." That's all I could get out while I was still on those branches.

I was nervous as the branches were not stable. They wobbled and bounced under the weight of me and my pack. I could see the water rushing below me. I don't have the resilience I had when I was younger and my knees cause me low-grade pain most of the time, but I made it across without falling in!

Since we were walking beside the creek, which I have neglected to mention should have been named Roaring Creek, not Rolling Creek, we had these lovely views for quite a while. I particularly love the expanse of moss in this image. Looked so inviting.

Rolling Creek moving fast
These bridges were a piece of cake. Unfortunately, they weren't always available.

Quite an incline
We continued ... up, up, up.

Kelly took this of me to give some perspective

Lunch break and contemplation
Hunger called and it was definitely time for a break at this amazing falls and pool.

Creek crossing that stopped us
This creek crossing was extremely unstable with some slippery logs and mostly just rotten logs. Kelly and I both tested for our level of safety and security. Finally, we decided since we didn't have to cross it we wouldn't, but we had a great discussion about what we'd attempt if we came across something like this on The Colorado Trail.

I learned after our hike that this is a Calypso Orchid. It was so stunning!

This is where I lost battery power on my phone and of course had forgotten to bring the cord to connect my solar charger! Good thing to add to my list of "do not forgets."

So the following pictures Kelly shared with me. I'm glad I get to remember the rest of our trip through her images.

Due to all the rain we have had recently in Colorado, the new growth on the baby pine trees looked elfin in their light color in comparison to the main part of each tree. The tips of the branches seemed to glow.

Kelly had never seen a mushroom like this. At one time, I knew its name.

Taking a break next to the creek
We took a side trail called Windy Peak to a gate announcing private property. So we followed the fence down to the creek and enjoyed its song and the warmth of the sunshine. Of course, I didn't realize I had half the forest floor on my behind until after Kelly took this picture!

Along the way, I kept seeking animals in the trees stumps, so Kelly took a few pictures.

I see a deer head here. I saw a marmot earlier in the day. But unfortunately, they weren't real.

This one was though. This doe was gorgeous. She was a show stopper as she stared at me for minutes. I'm so glad Kelly saw her too and got this image.

Oh, about the sleeping bag ... I talked to the nice folks at REI and ended up getting a new sleeping bag (Big Agnes Roxy Ann). It only made sense since it's one of this most important pieces of gear!