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Colorado Trail -Segment 3

March 30/31, 2002


Segment 3 - Colorado Trailhead FS-550 to FS-560 (Wellington Lake Road)

Distance: 12.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 1520 feet


View Log - Log of all contacts made


This was our very first Colorado Trail Segment.  Terry and I hiked and backpacked it on our 20th wedding anniversary.Terry

This is one of the shorter segments of the trail.  At 12.1 miles with an elevation gain of 1520 feet, it is one of the easier segments.  We started the trail at the western trail head, the 'FS-543' trailhead, because going west to east there was an overall elevation loss of 1520 feet instead of a gain of 1520 feet.  A little like cheating? Yes... but as it was our first segment (and anniversary) I didn't sweat it!  And I'm sure I won't sweat it if given a similar opportunity in the future!  

This was an easy segment to set our cars for the trip.  Don't look at the overall elevation loss of this hike and  think that its all downhill.  While there is an elevation loss there are still some uphill sections.   Over the course of the trail I'd say there are 3 or 4 spots with uphill climbing however even these are not substantial.  Just enough to feel you've done your exercise at the end of  the day.  The hiking is very pleasant with lush forest most of the way.  We crossed water every 2 or 3 miles so, in March at least, you need not worry about packing too much to drink.  Near the half way point, slightly off the trail, is the Buffalo Creek Campground, an established forest service campground.  This is also an alternative trailhead if you would like a shorter day hike.

 We took two vehicles and first drove to the eastern trail head, FS-550 in the Colorado Trail Guidebook but labeled Little Scraggy Trailhead at the entrance.  We dropped one vehicle at this trailhead and then drove to the western trailhead in about 30 minutes and hit the trail.

We got on the trail by about 9AM.   The trail begins with a very short uphill trek and then begins heading slightly downhill.  We reached the Buffalo Creek Campgound area around noon and stopped for an hour lunch break at a spot which we believed was just above the campground.  We couldn't be sure because we never actually saw the campground. We continued and were able to hike about 8 miles before making camp at about 4 PM.  

Our campground was at a spot just west of where the Trail Guide describes a 'small tributary of Morrison Creek'.  After making camp, I strung up my 83 foot W3EDP long wire/zepp antenna and spent a couple hours operating. The rig was my Elecraft K1 and internal battery pack so I was able to work 15/20/30/40.   This included a friend just down the road in Bailey, CO, his father in Ohio, and a QSO with Mano in Komaki, Japan.  All on about 3 watts out. I also worked Wisconsin, California and Chincoteague Island (SC?).

After dinner we took a hike to help us sleep.  We headed east on the trail, crossed the small trickle of water, headed up the other side of gulch for a quarter mile and found the spot we 'wished' we were camping at and would recommend to anyone.  There is a beautiful overlook with a lot of flat camping area, 3 or 4 big tall trees suitable for antennas and beautiful views.  Someone else apparently appreciated this spot as much as us and brought their dog Bandit here for his final resting place.  

We returned to camp, put in a little more operating time and were off to bed.  The next morning we completed the last four miles of the hike by around 11:30, returning to the Scraggy Peak Trailhhead and our car.  A very successful first Colorado Trail hike.     --------  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------   --------  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  ------------ ------Spot we 'wish we camped att'----------- ---------------- -----------------------  -------- ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  ------------ ------------------ ---------------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --Bandit  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  ------------ ------------------ ----------- ----------------- ---------------- -----------------------  --------  --------

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