longrunsolutions.typepad.com > Mt. Zirkel Wilderness - Gilpin/Gold Creek Lake

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When I look at a sign that says "wilderness", it automatically makes my blood flow. I'm not sure I can put that feeling into words, but it is especially exciting when it's an area I haven't explored before. Mt. Zirkel Wilderness did not disappoint.


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So we headed into the wilderness to explore.


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Recently I wrote about the beauty of a forest recovering from wild fire. This small part of the trip we experienced some of this same beauty.


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I think its always interesting to see these small mountain streams and the logs that are strewn about in them. It reminds me of the power of the spring run off. Think of how powerfully this stream must have pumped water just weeks before our trip.


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As we began to climb, the mountain disappeared into the clouds. It added a little mystery and a it of concern about what we would find in our climb into the clouds


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This sign, somewhat oddly, marks the final steep climb to Gilpin Lake. We ended up thinking back that this sign was silly. What we learned was that this sign pretty much marked the spot where from here to the lake you could not camp. The only problem is, there are no flat areas spots and there was no way to know that it was the actual 1/4 mile marker. And trust me on this, I bet no one has ever gone back down these several hundred feet to camp. So, what is illegal anyway?.....a sick bird?


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A site for sore eyes, beautiful Gilpin Lake.


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Well, if anyone asks whose tent this is, I have no idea because you are not supposed to camp closer than 1/4 mile to Gilpin Lake. Had we camped here in this Gander Mountain Guide Series tent with a nice large handy vestibule, I'm sure we would have been thrilled. Oh, and I heard this tent weighs barely more than 5 pounds.


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9.1

This is essentially the same view as the last picture, but up and over the tent. The light area is actually back where we came from and back down toward the Elk River Valley.


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9.2

Out across Gilpin Lake


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9.3

The view behind our camp


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9.4

Gilpin Lake after traveling the trail around the east side of the lake


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9.5

The beauty of Gilpin Lake from the trail above. Across the lake on the right side is the hump of land where you could camp....if it were legal I mean.


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9.6

Cairn - an artificial pile of stones used for navigation over rocky or hilly areas. Cool.


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9.7

I see this blonde lady a lot while backpacking and she always has a real lot of stuff hanging off her pack. I'm not sure what else to say about it.


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9.8

Over the hill and out of the Gilpin Lake bowl and we headed down the slope. This was a truly a beautiful descent into a meadow holding a couple of small unnamed ponds that show up as swamp on the TOPO map. Do they hold trout? I do not know.


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9.9

Descending


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9.91

Almost into the meadow


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9.92

Along much of the trail was wild parsley. I enjoyed chewing on it during much of our hike


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9.93

Meadow of un-named ponds. I bet there are fish in them. Probably not real big, but fun to catch.


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9.94

another view


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9.95

And finally, Gold Creek Lake. Gold Creek Lake is a beautiful lake that is actually bigger than it appears on the map. I heard reliable information that the brook trout bite is always on. Especially if you possess a #18 Adams. My mountain fishing experience would tell me that a #16 red humpy would probably produce, as well.


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9.96

Blue grouse just beyond Gold Creek Lake


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9.97

A couple of miles from the end of the trail, I took this picture of just one of the many water falls along the way. This one had a particularly beautiful pool at the bottom. A beautiful end to another nice trip into the wilderness