When we got to the trailhead at Lost Park Campground it was hailing.  As my buddies pulled up and rolled down their window the look on their faces was both excitement and bewilderment.  It was their first backpacking trip and they were probably thinking, “What the fuck did I get myself into.” They asked if we could wait out the storm and I agreed it was probably for the best.  I did not want the three first-timers with me to kick off their adventure in the hail…that is something I reserve for the other crazies like myself.

20 minutes later the storm let up to a light rain and I rallied everyone to get started hiking in. I could tell their packs were full of crap they most likely would not use but hell, so was mine.  When I am only hiking in a few miles I tend to bring extra heavy items like beer and camping chairs.  Besides, aside from making sure they didn’t die, I wanted them to do their own learning.

We set off down the north part of the Lost Creek Loop with plans of hiking in a few miles and setting up camp before we got hit with another storm.  The trail was muddy, it was still raining and cold but everyone was in high spirits.  Since that section of trail is pretty damn easy they were just strolling and talking but after a mile or so I could tell they were starting to realize what 30 to 40 lbs felt like on your back.  We took it slow and enjoyed the conversation and the scenery.  Our dogs ran up and down the rain-soaked dirt trail with no mind at all to the weather.

After about 3.5 miles in we found a nice spot where several groups have, no doubt camped over the years.  The site was pretty established for a backcountry area.  There was even a bench/table made from rocks and logs which, came in handy.  We had plenty of flat ground and a fire pit already built.  There was a small stream feeding into Lost Creek about 100 feet away which made fetching fresh water easy.  I decided it would be a good spot to set up as the rain had stopped and everyone agreed.  We set up camp, built a fire and got some water boiling for food.

Watching everyone else try freeze dried backpacking food for the first time was entertaining, to say the least.  They all seemed to like it but there was some learning going on.  For instance, if you use the exact amount of water called for on the back of the package you end up with soup, not a solid meal.  We also busted out some wine I brought in my GSI wine flask and passed it around.  I must say that time spent around a campfire with friends beats any bar out there.  We talked for hours and there were a lot of questions about bears and how to defend ourselves, I just chuckled inside.

That night pretty much everyone said they had trouble sleeping and they were cold.  Shoot, in my 40-degree bag I was cold too.  The weather was a bit different from the reports I had pulled the day before but that’s just how it goes in the Rockies.  Luckily, everyone was still in high spirits in the morning so we made breakfast and waited for the sun to de-thaw the meadow.

I wandered off to the meadow to take in the view and get some more water.  The whole trip I was using my new Platypus Platy Water Tank to fetch water from the creek and that thing was awesome.  Being that I was leading the trip it was on me to make sure everyone was hydrated and had cooking water.  Hauling water from a creek had never been easier.

After the sun came out we headed down to Lost Creek and busted out some fly fishing poles.  This is where I was actually out of my comfort zone.  Of all the outdoor activities I have done in my life I have never fly fished.  I know, kind of lame.  With that said I picked up the technique fairly quick but did not catch anything all day.  I love fishing I just have never used a fly rod before.  I have a feeling that I will be doing much more fly fishing in the near future.

We hiked around, fished and chilled most of the morning.  Noon rolled around and we busted out some of that beer I mentioned and sat by the creek and soaked up the sun.  The crew was clearly just glad to be out of a city and in the woods.

When we got back to camp that afternoon I came up with an idea to build a lean-to with a fire pit inside to help everyone stay a bit warmer that night.  I also thought it would be cool to teach them some bushcraft and how to construct a shelter out of the materials around them.  This gave everyone something to do for the rest of the day and they loved it.  The result was quite the shelter.  It was large, resembled a teepee, covered with pine boughs and had a fire pit inside.  I designed the fire pit to throw heat back towards where we were sleeping.  All 4 of us could fit inside with our sleeping bags to sleep that night.  After a bit of some improvised margaritas I brought and dinner, we were ready to call it a night and climbed into the lean-to.  I remember thinking to myself that if this had been my first backing trip I would be stoked.

The last morning was brisk as we woke up and broke camp.  2 members of the group headed back before my girlfriend and I did.  The walk back to the car was nice but ultimately knowing it meant back to civilization, it was slightly somber.  We headed back to Denver for some food and to unpack and store all our gear.  – MU  Photos by Alexis Ortega

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