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 Peak(s):  Bison Peak - 12,431 feet
McCurdy Mountain - 12,168 feet
 Post Date:  07/04/2012
 Date Climbed:   06/30/2012
 Posted By:  vonmackle

 Escape to the Lost Creek Wilderness: Bison and McCurdy from Lost Park        


Day and Night in the Tarryall Mountains


McCurdy Mountain: 12,168 ft
Bison Peak: 12,431 ft

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The Great Escape: Lost Park to Bison Arm


For this trip I decided on a backpack from the Lost Park Trailhead to a camp on Bison Arm. This route is about a mile longer than Bison's standard route from the Ute Creek Trailhead, but climbs about 1,000 ft less. The gentle five mile hike up to Bison Pass lends itself nicely to a hike with a large pack, and a camp on Bison Arm would allow for easy access for moonlight hiking and photography around Bison's summit area.

I pondered the reason for this sign at the trailhead. Lost Park found? A bit of Forest Service humor, perhaps?
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A look from the trailhead. The hike started easily enough, but I quickly encountered the Beaver Ponds of Doom...
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Just a couple of minutes into the hike, the obvious trail suddenly disappeared. Beavers. I looked up and down the creek for a crossing point, and eventually found a large plank of wood spanning a section of the creek. The bridge! Oh, that wasn't so bad. I took a step onto the crossing and...PLUNGE. Booby trap. The plank was just floating there unteathered. Damn, those beavers are good. I tried crossing a beaver dam, but it wouldn't support my weight. Finally, I located a section of the creek that was barely narrow enough to jump with my heavy pack. I made my way through marshy willows back to the trail, thinking how glad I was for packing that extra pair of socks.

Looking back over the ponds.
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It was just a short hike to the wilderness boundary.
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Along the way I noticed a piece of Pop Art created by the local residents. Eat your heart out, Andy Warhol.
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Looking north at Peaks X, Y, Z and Zephyr
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Shooting Star along the Indian Creek
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Once you reach Bison Pass, the Ute Creek Trail on Bison's standard route joins up with the Brookside McCurdy Trail. The route gets a bit steeper from here. Time for me to turn on the flashers and throw it into low gear.
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First look at Bison Monolith with Bison Amphitheater in the background.
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I reached Bison Arm at around 9 o'clock, set up camp, ate some oatmeal and got ready for my trip to McCurdy.



Roaming McCurdy's Broad Summit Plateau



McCurdy is huge and deserves more time for exploration than I had to offer. Clouds were quickly building around me, and I knew the summit wouldn't be an obvious one to locate. Fortunately, based on reading other trip reports and looking on the map I knew the true summit was on the southeast side of the plateau and I pointed myself in that general direction.

McCurdy's summit comes into view.
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For a bit of perspective on McCurdy's size, here's a shot from the summit looking down on five deer crossing the plateau
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The white thing on top of the rocks just to the right of center is a goat.
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McCurdy is covered in dead trees. Impressively, many of them are still standing.
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The Dreaded Chicken of Bristol
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I returned to camp, took a quick nap, and made some dinner before grabbing my camera to do some wandering around Bison's beautiful rock gardens.

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Looking toward Bison's Summit
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Bison Monolith
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Storm Clouds Over McCurdy
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The increasing cloud cover as night approached made me wonder if I was going to get the moonlight I was hoping for. I climbed into my tent and went to sleep.



Bison by Moonlight


Around 10pm I woke up and noticed the clouds had cleared and the moon was out. I threw on my boots and headed up to the Bison Amphitheater.


Bison Amphitheater by Moonlight
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Approaching Bison's Summit
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On the summit looking toward the Springs. Notice the light on the Pikes Peak Summit House 35 miles in the distance.
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Front Range Light Pollution
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Moonlight and Monolith
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I returned to my tent tired but content with another wonderful day in the mountains.



Sunday



On the hike out I stumbled upon this guy. Normally I'd be quite excited to see a moose, but my excitement turned to caution after having nearly been trampled by a mama moose in the Lone Eagle Cirque the weekend before. He was acting a bit edgy and I had a feeling he could smell me but didn't know exactly where I was. I took the opportunity to hide behind a tree until he decided to head off to the other side of the meadow.

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I made my way back to the Beaver Ponds of Doom happily awaiting another chance to experience the joys of soggy socks.

*If you are considering starting at this trailhead, I did notice a possible alternative on my map after the crossing on the way in. My Trails Illustrated map showed a spur connecting the Lost Creek Campground to the Wigwam Trail which meets up with the Brookside McCurdy Trail to the West. These maps aren't always accurate, and I didn't look to see if it is really passable, but it may be a drier alternative to the ponds if you are considering an approach from Lost Park.

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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (7)
Furthermore


Sweet!     2012-07-04 18:24:19
Those are some fine pictures. I still need to explore Lost Creek better.


d_baker


Awesome!     2012-07-04 19:21:12
Love it, thanks for posting!


rickinco123


You again.     2012-07-05 09:45:56
These TRs amazing. Photo composition is incredible. Keep 'em coming. Do you know what that sign means?


djkest


Oh my     2012-07-05 09:59:46
I have some serious work to do before my pictures are as artistic as yours are. Nice composition. Looks like a fun place to go for a hike.


MtnHub


Sweet!     2012-07-05 10:21:59
...and timely! I'm thinking of doing that as a warm-up hike next week! Very cool shots! Thanks for posting!


Derek


Fantastic photos, fantastic area     2012-07-06 11:40:38
Your first photo is probably one of my favorite spots in the all of Colorado's mountains....anywhere. Amazing area. I agree with you, I need to head up to McCurdy to spend some time, lots of neat areas up there that I haven't seen yet.

Thanks for posting!
--D


sunny1


Great stuff!     2012-07-06 23:01:41
Excellent TR - like the wit, love the pics!
Thanks for posting.



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