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Never Summer Wilderness (part 2)

Started: 2008-08-18 21:08:58

Submitted: 2008-08-18 21:33:37

Visibility: World-readable

I woke up on Thursday morning, 31 July, north of Baker Pass in the upper drainage of the South Fork of the Michigan River in Never Summer Wilderness. I ate breakfast, broke camp, stuffed everything into my backpack, and headed up the trail to Baker Pass.

Michigan River Trail, Never Summer Wilderness
Michigan River Trail, Never Summer Wilderness

I followed the most direct route back to the trailhead, following Baker Gulch south and then turning east into the Colorado River valley. Just below timberline in Baker Gulch I spotted a group of moose grazing in a field a few hundred meters away. I grabbed my camera, wished for my telephoto lens, and managed to play wilderness tourist.

Moose below Bowen Mountain in Baker Gulch
Moose below Bowen Mountain in Baker Gulch

The trail entered a strand of trees above the group of moose, allowing me to get fairly close (while I still cursed my lack of a proper telephoto lens) before they figured out I was stalking them.

Moose in Baker Gulch
Moose in Baker Gulch

I descended though Baker Gulch and briefly exited the wilderness along the headwaters of Grand Ditch, which captures most of the water flowing out of Baker Gulch and diverts it across Poudre Pass into the Cache la Poudre River to irrigate farms and cities on the Front Range.

Grand Ditch in Baker Gulch
Grand Ditch in Baker Gulch

After spending the past two days almost exclusively above timberline, descending into the heat of the Colorado River valley was a bit of a shock. I hiked through broadly-spaced lodgepole pines before crossing the flat, grassy valley floor to the trailhead and my car.

I finished my last great backpacking adventure of the summer with mixed emotions. I enjoyed my time backpacking and mountaineering through Colorado, and I knew I left a great deal of ground unexplored. I was eager to begin the next phase of my adventures while gainfully employed at Qualcomm.

I drove home across Trail Ridge Road and stopped for lunch at the new Snarf's location in Longmont. I arrived after two on a hot Thursday afternoon, and the place was empty, being well after normal lunch time. It was, as I observed to the sole cashier and sandwich-maker, just like Snarf's, only bigger. (While working at Solekai, I would hike eight blocks down Pearl once a week to eat at Snarf's. While working at Morphlix, I was across the street from the World's Finest Sandwiches.) I took my sandwich and ate it at home while I reconnected with the world after four days in the wilderness.

I distrust few things more deeply than acts of literary explication.
- William Gibson, foreword to _Dhalgren_