West Elk Wilderness

Over the long weekend of September 4, 2009, Tracy and I headed to Colorado to do some backpacking in the West Elk Wilderness. We spent Friday night in Grand Junction, and then hit the Lowline Trail near Horse Ranch Park. We hiked up and over Beckwith Pass, and down into the meadows on the other side. The views from Beckwith back into the Raggeds were pretty good, but once we got into the meadows, we saw hundreds and hundreds of cows. The weather started looking bad, so we started looking for a campsite. We spent over an hour trying to find a suitable site, and never did find an existing site. And then we spent the rest of the evening shooing away cows. We had planned on spending three days out here, but with the difficulty we had finding a camp site, and especially because of all the cows, we decided to hike out the next day. The cows were horrible and totally ruined the wilderness.

On Sunday we drove into Crested Butte, and found how crowded it was on a holiday weekend. We hiked a little into the Raggeds Wilderness, but there were too many people at all the Maroon Bells Wilderness trailheads we tried near Crested Butte and Aspen to be able to get into that wilderness. We drove around a lot on Sunday, including going up and over Cottonwood Pass, and hiking into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. We ended up in Buena Vista, and camped just outside of town in the nice montane forests. The next day we checked out the Mount Massive Wilderness, which we decided we really liked and want to go back to hike some more.  And then we drove over Independence Pass into Aspen. Aspen was overflowing with people, so we hit the road and headed on home.

We learned that we really didn’t like West Elk or the Raggeds. The scenery just wasn’t all that great, and the cows made it pretty unbearable. In Crested Butte we decided we were going to quit our jobs and become hippies, and then in Aspen we decided we needed to become multi-millionaires…it was a weekend of extremes…

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Lowline Trail

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Lowline Trail 38.862870, -107.163990 West Elk Report (Directions)

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