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  1. #1
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    CO>Philmont Cancelled, Help Plan Alternatives

    We had a small contingent going to Philmont in two weeks, but the Ute Park Wildfire has cut Philmont in two and they have justifiably canceled treks through at least 7/14. We don't want to stay home after all our preparation. We already have flights booked into Denver on the 16th and a house rented in Cripple Creek to spend a couple of days at elevation to acclimate. We were going rafting in Buena Vista on the Sunday and driving to Pike's Peak on the Monday before our planned drive to Philmont on Tuesday the 19th. With Philmont cancelled, I'm trying to plan a 3-4 day backpacking loop for our group. We are coming from the AL Gulf Coast, so altitude might be an issue. We don't want to avoid high elevation, but I recognize we will be slow and our distance will be limited to 25 miles or so. I saw a couple of posts about the Lost Creek Wilderness. This looks promising. Any suggestions for a route within Lost Creek or other areas, please pass them on.

    Also, I've never camped/backpacked out west other than Philmont, so information you can pass on that might not obvious to a lowland hiker would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Edu

  2. #2
    Senior Member Twokag's Avatar
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    Pecos wilderness is south of philmont. Higher elevations, decent trail maintenance, lakes to camp by, options for loop routes. My son and daughter and I did 35 miles in 5 days last July from jacks creek to pecos baldy to truchas lake.

    If it looks like something you are interested in and it is not affected by the fire, I can get more details.

  3. #3
    New Member texasmufflerman's Avatar
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    Consider the Weminuche Wilderness

    Elk Park to Needleton loop is 5 days. If you add additional nights at Chicago Basin, you will have time to summit four 14-ers and/or other notable 13-ers in the area.

    Take the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Leave your vehicles in Durango. One of the three trains stops at Elk Park and can drop you off. Another train stops at Needleton and can pick you up and take you back to Durango. You can also go to Silverton on the head end or tail end of your trip; just work that out with the ticket sales folks at DSNGRR. The downside is the cost of the train tickets, but it is worth it. Getting off of a coal-fired steam train in the middle of nowhere for a backpacking trip is a unique experience. It will make for an unforgettable high adventure for your scouts.

    Alternative to the train: You can hike from Molas Pass to elk park (approx 4 miles) and you can hike Cascade Creek from Needleton to Purgatory Flats trailhead across from Purgatory Ski Area (approx 10 miles). You will need to shuttle your cars.

    I really recommend the train. It is worth it and if you have the budget for a Philmont trip, the cost of the train tickets should not be a problem at all.

    I have not done the loop but few years back, I took my family on a short excursion into the Weminuche. We parked the car in Silverton, took the afternoon train to Durango, spent the night in Durango, took the morning train back towards Silverton, got off at Needleton, hiked to Chicago Basin and spent two nights, then hiked back to Needleton to take the train back to Silverton. My 7- and 9-year-old boys loved it and did quite well on the 7-mile 3,000-foot ascent to Chicago Basin. I am looking forward to doing the loop, hopefully sometime soon.

  4. #4
    New Member texasmufflerman's Avatar
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    Ouray is a great place to acclimate to the elevation. There are several dispersed campsites that you can use. Easy one to get to is Ironton Park. A little more difficult one to get to is on Camp Bird Rd. Ouray has a hot spring pool that is nice and there is a nice hiking trail that circles the town. There are lots of other hiking trails around there.

    You will want the following maps:
    Map of the MOUNTAINS of SILVERTON, TELLURIDE, and OURAY
    Map of the MOUNTAINS between SILVERTON and DURANGO (for the elk-park to needleton loop)
    Hiking Trails of Ouray County & the Uncompahgre Wilderness

    All of these maps are available from Buckskin Booksellers in Ouray.
    http://buckskinbooksellers.com/newbooks/Maps

    There are other maps as well but I like these
    Last edited by texasmufflerman; 06-13-2018 at 09:54. Reason: add a link

  5. #5
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    Thanks, guys. I've be offline for a couple of days. We've made the decision to do the Goose Creek Loop in the Lost Creek Wilderness. Before that we will be going Rafting, Zip lining, and mtb biking. We will also drive to the top of Pikes Peak and trying to day hike a 15er. I'm exhausted thinking about it, but we should have fun.

    For those who have done Goose Creek, will we had be any problems with hanging?

  6. #6

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    Goose Creek is one of my favorite Places. The Lost creek wilderness Is very close to Cripple creek, and Pikes peak. It would not be difficult to do a couple days of backpacking In the Lost creek wilderness since you are in the area. Goose creek trail is a 27 mile loop with the highest elevation being about 11,000ft and there are plenty of trees. Have fun!

  7. #7
    New Member texasmufflerman's Avatar
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    Sounds like your group has put together a pretty good alternative to a Philmont trek. By the way, the upside is that you will be at a place where you will probably be able to use your hammock. I know that Philmont has a very strict leave no trace policy that includes a ban on hammocks.

    Safe travels. We will be looking forward to an after-trip report.

  8. #8
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    Another alternative (apparently LCW is often hot and dry now) is the West Elk Wilderness which is where I'm heading on Tuesday

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by edu View Post
    Thanks, guys. I've be offline for a couple of days. We've made the decision to do the Goose Creek Loop in the Lost Creek Wilderness. Before that we will be going Rafting, Zip lining, and mtb biking. We will also drive to the top of Pikes Peak and trying to day hike a 15er. I'm exhausted thinking about it, but we should have fun.

    For those who have done Goose Creek, will we had be any problems with hanging?
    You mean a 14er. There are no peaks above 15,000 ft in any part of the CONUS

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