“There was no church on Sundays, but they lived beneath magnificent spires of God’s natural cathedral.”
This year, with the heavy snowpack in Colorado, I need to get creative for somewhat local backpacking trips.
I knew of just the place.
Last year, I attempted to backpack the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area. For the simple reason of an unclear sign, I made the backpack into a day hike.
I thought I’d attempt the Beaver Creek WSA from the other end.
And I am glad I did.
This start is immediately more scenic and varied than the place I did last year.
First an observation: I now know why there is no camping at the other end. The end I started at DOES allow camping. And, frankly, it conjured up everything I try to avoid when camping: Trash in the privy, people everywhere and tents upon each other. Oy vey… :O The small trailhead at the other end of the WSA could not handle all this camping.
Lucky enough for me, it is easy enough to leave the zoo behind.
I simply walked away.
Once at the start of the route, a scenic view of Almagre and Pike’s Peak is seen.
I soon went even further into a valley. Only a few stray people fishing was seen along the creek. I briefly walked an old service road.
The road portion ended, and I entered a green and lush valley.
This valley soon entered into a steep and rocky canyon. There was no trail. Some survey tape from previous hikers were spotted here and there.
All together I would cross the creek half a dozen times on the way up the canyon.
With the spring snowmelt, some crossings would be thigh high.
I did not see a person.
The rocky terrain and swiftly flowing stream kept the people away.
Only the cliffs above were there to be seen.
I pushed further up the canyon. Scrambling on rocks, climbing up cliffs and sometimes crossing creeks. It was challenging in a good way.
I reached my destination: An old power plant that existed in this canyon from 1901 to 1965. A vibrant community once existed here. But an extreme flood ended the time of that community here.
Remnants of the previous inhabitants were still present: Faded wallpaper in an old kitchen, remnants of old appliances and even where children once played.
Alas, remnants of more recent inhabitants were there too. Discarded sleeping bags, a pristine first aid kit, fuel canisters, other misc trash and even a tent still in its plastic wrapped packaging. My only thought that the five mile or so trek was harder than some people expected. And to get back? They lightened their loads.
I should say while the route was challenging, it is nothing an in-shape and experienced backpacker can’t handle. If you are so out of shape you can’t pack out a tent, perhaps the hike is not for you… -Off my soap box-
But the area around was too beautiful to have these sour thoughts for long. The sunlight of early summer playing on the rocks above was beautiful.
I explored the area a bit more after a snack. The power plant would be investigated.
The brickwork and design reminded me of old mill buildings of where I grew up in the Pawtuxet Valley area of Rhode Island.
All the turbines and heavy machinery were left behind.
Even in ruins, I found the brick work to be beautiful. The work was of craftsmanship and elegance that is not seen in our more utilitarian construction of the 21st century.
There is still beauty to be found among the ruins.
I soon headed back down the canyon again.
There was no desire to camp among the ruins. A quiet spot down the creek and just before the valley would be home for the evening.
Once in the valley, hiking was easy. No major creek crossings, no rocks to scramble over or cliffs to climb up and down. Simply a pleasant stroll.
I soon reached my car and changed into some clean clothes. A mid-morning breakfast was enjoyed in a nearby old mining town. I then made my way back home. But a last view was enjoyed at a mountain pass.
The season is going to be good.