The skies were bright blue when we woke up with only a couple puffs of clouds. After the storms we experienced throughout the night, we were thankful for this. We followed the trail weaving through forests and meadows as we walked along the plateau. Views of the mountains, still streaked with snow behind us with the rocky cliffs of the Zirkels in front of us. Between it all was seemingly flat land saddling the dramatic mountainside.
As we came up and over a rolling hill, we stopped in our tracks at the sight of Elk in a field. Not one, not thirty, but upwards of a hundred elk grazed before us. We quietly walked passed trying to not disturbed them but also interested in observing them for as long as we could. As Garbelly inched closer, the wind blew our scent their way and they trotted off into the woods.
After winding up and down nicely graded trail with the occasional patch of snow, we arrived at a small stream. While only a few inches wide, it was carved deep into the grass suggesting its old age. As we filtered the icy water, we ate a small snack and decided to make it over Lost Ranger peak before any afternoon storms trapped us below the mountain.
The climb up to Lost Ranger was spectacular and an easy climb. Once we were at the top, a group of nearly twenty bighorn sheep wandered across the trail stopping to look at us before disappearing over the edge. We decided to eat lunch up there, not minding the sun due to the enjoyable breeze that had started up. In the distance we could see miles and miles of burn area. We knew there would be a lot of downed trees to climb over in the second half of our day.
We started our descent saying bye to the last Pikas we would surely see for awhile. The ground became boggy and soaked our feet. Every now and then we walked over mounds of snow sometimes over ten feet tall. After descending for awhile with water logged shoes, we passed by a lake occupied by swimmers and anglers. The sight of people near an alpine lake meant that the trees were most likely cut and we would not be climbing over many downed trees. After we passed through a trailhead parking lot, we found trail again that climbed up to a narrow ridge away from the road. With a perfect view of the Zirkels, we decided to pitch our tent and eat dinner with a view.
Garbelly & Critter