Monday, September 14, 2009

RMNP Backcountry Trip - Day 2

On day 2, we awoke to a brisk morning of around 40 degrees fahrenheit. I woke up around 6:00am and went down to Pear Lake to take a look around. The sunrise reflected against the mountains surrounding the West side of the lake. As with most scenes in the backcountry, pictures don't capture the full feeling you have when you see something awe inspiring. This was one such futile attempt.

My son finally got out of the tent around 7:00am and joined me down by the lake. It was pretty cool until the sun came up fully around 7:30am. Brandon decided to attempt to build a boat out of the deadwood along the shore. He didn't get very far. He and I did some exploring around the camp waiting on our two Canadian partners to arise from their den.


Around 9:00am, everyone was awake and we had an oatmeal breakfast with coffee to help warm everyone up. We packed everything up and were ready to head out by about 10:00am. We took one last group pic near our campsite and headed off.

Day 2's plan was to hike from Pear Lake back down to the Allenspark Trail junction, then head towards Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls to our campsite at North St. Vrain. We would log around 7 miles and drop down about 1,500 vertical feet.

Around noon, we stopped at Finch Lake for lunch, in hopes of lightening our food stash. As you can see by the bear canister below, we had barely made a dent in our rations, and we have two of these. We pulled together some Mango Chipotle Salmon and Pepper Jack cheese on tortillas as well as some Hickory Smoked Tuna on tortillas. Eating good for day 2.

We made our way down the trail. Along the way, and for the next couple of days, we would see remnants of the damage caused by a giant fire in 1978. The fire was started by a lightning strike and burned over 1,000 acres near Ouzel Lake towards the town of Allenspark. You can see in this picture the large swath that was taken out of the hills. There is a lot of new growth coming in, but it will take quite a while before this damage is no longer evident.

At the junction of the Wild Basin trail, we stopped for a rest at Calypso Cascades. We took this opportunity to cool our feet which were being hammered by the amount of downhill we did. I would highly recommend making the short dayhike up to Calypso Cascades anytime you are in the area. This was a fantastic spot, and again, the pictures will never do it justice, so I'll just include a great pic of my son and I.


If you make the trip up to Calypso Cascades, you might as well push on another 1 mile to Ouzel Falls. These are terrific, short day trips from the Wild Basin trailhead. I hear it is recommended to check with the Backcountry Office during the spring runoff on Ouzel Falls, as they can get quite intense and may be a bit dicey to access. This was a pretty dry time, so the falls weren't running that heavy, but in the spring, they say you might not even be able to stand where I took this picture from and the falls will engulf the entire frame shown in this picture.


We finally arrived at the North St. Vrain campsite around 6:00pm. This is a fantastic campsite with some really great choices for tent pads. If you've got children, there's a ton of area to roam around the campsite and it is fairly accessible for a backcountry campsite. I believe it is only 3.5 miles from the Wild Basin trailhead. There is plenty of accessible water, as you are right on the North St. Vrain creek. There's even a privy! If you've never seen a privy, picture a toilet in the woods. Most of the time, they are surrounded by 3 1/2 walls, but in the case of the North St. Vrain privy, it's au natural!

Anyway, we settled into our campsite and cooked another delicious dinner. This time we prepared some Knorr Rice and Vegetables with Tyson Packaged Chicken. We also made some Richmoor Natural High, dehydrated Cinnamon Apple Crisp to reward the boys for a hard days work. Mmmmm, tasty! FireMan (in the picture below) stood watch over dinner for us.

After dinner, we played a fun game of cards. Jamie and Darren taught us a new game called President. I believe Darren finished as President, Brandon was Vice President, Jamie was Secretary, and I was the Janitor! It was a great evening... looking forward to another great day.

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