West Cross Creek Loop, Holy Cross Wilderness
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Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
West Cross Creek Loop, Holy Cross Wilderness on 08/29/2013 21:09:18 MDT Print View

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It was time once again to return to the Wilderness Area located near home. Cross Creek is one of many gems located within Wilderness boundaries, but in my opinion it is the heart of Holy Cross. I would choose to return to a few familiar places for this trip, but the particular destination I had in mind, I had never stepped foot.

The West Cross Creek drainage is an off-trail valley which features no named lakes, no surrounding 14ers, little cover from the elements, but more importantly no people. I had been salivating at the chance to explore the high and low elevations of this area since laying distant eyes on it several times last summer.  Kelly and I planned for three days and two nights, looping an approximate 23 miles.

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Looking down at the Missouri Lakes just after gaining Missouri Pass. We saw several dozen day hikers who were in the midst of completing the very popular Missouri/Fancy Pass Loop on a cloudy Saturday afternoon.

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Treasure Vault Lake in the foreground and our intended route in the back. The view from the top of Missouri Pass is just all around good.

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We stayed high and skirted around the Cross Creek drainage from above. Kelly spotted snow, so we had to go. Being the ski enthusiast that she is, she naturally had to see how well the snow would slide.

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Standing high above the headwaters of Cross Creek.

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We dropped down to Blodgett Lake first, then continued west on high tundra towards what I'll call Middle Mountain Pass.

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Easy and spacious walking with an up close view of the Holy Cross Ridge. Small pools of water have formed in many direction.

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Standing atop the mellow Middle Mountain Pass and looking  at what's to become of us in the west.

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We descended below tree line and came across what we had come for in the form of West Cross Creek; a beautiful and gentle stream which has bleached the rock and down timber a pearl white. The slow pools of water give off a aqua blue hue.

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West Cross Creek and the view to our south. To our north and in the far far away we can see what is obviously a great glimpse of the Gore Range. The only thing left to do is find camp: as close to here as possible.

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Early morning sun.

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Following West Cross Creek down to Reeds Meadow, we came upon a full bushwhack with big and small, tall and short scenery.

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Here, there and everywhere. We swore we'd be better fungi identifiers next time.

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Upon reaching the tributary of thee Cross Creek, we circled around Reeds Meadow and began heading south again towards the above and our night two destination of Harvey Lake.

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Exploring and fishing Harvey Lake in the afternoon.

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Nothing like the freshest tasting trout while in the backcountry. Gourmet style mashed potatoes and rich dark chocolate for dessert (I'm usually not always that nice to myself). It may have been one of the best backpacking meals I've had in a while.

Rain came and went and the monsoon season still isn't breaking through late August.

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A gorgeous morning, but the fish disappeared.

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We took our sweet time Monday morning and broke camp to make it upstream for the rest of Cross Creek. Mining ruins and old cabins scattered the closer one gets to the headwaters.

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We had more miles and more climbing to do than any of three days we were out. Instead of going back via Missouri Pass, we opted to climb higher to Fancy Pass. Treasure Vault Lake sits to the left.

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Gaining the pass.

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Satisfaction.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
nice! on 08/29/2013 21:26:33 MDT Print View

Great report. My typical first question is how was the fishing in west cross? That looks like a great route. How was the bushwack down to reeds? I'm just over the pass from your local this week to the south east. No fun hiking for me though. I am on pool watch with the fam.

Ben

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - M

Locale: 40°N,-105°W-ish
Re: West Cross Creek Loop, Holy Cross Wilderness on 08/29/2013 22:31:21 MDT Print View

Sweet report, Tim. I'm chomping at the bit for a trip this weekend.

This wasn't last weekend by any chance? I was in Breckenridge and the weekend was a complete washout. 5 hours of torrential rain on Saturday afternoon and evening, and then rinse and repeat starting at 1pm on Sunday. If it was, then I'm constantly reminded how localized the weather can be in the Rockies.

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: on 08/30/2013 08:20:57 MDT Print View

Ben,

Thanks for the comment! I didn’t see any fish in West Cross Creek so therefore I never got out the pole. There could have been small ones here and there, but I looked hard and didn’t see anything. The farther you make your way down to Reeds, the thicker and steeper that drainage gets. It isn’t anything that can’t be done. You’d almost be better off cutting directly east once you cleared the shoulder of Middle Mountain. I wanted to make sure to see the water “falls” again, so therefore I went all the way to Reeds.

Stuart,

Thanks! We did just get this loop done last weekend. Went in on Saturday and came out on Monday. I had friends who camped near Silverthorne and said they got hit hard with rain Friday and Saturday. When we were at Harvey Lake Saturday night we got rain around 2:30 pm, 9:30 pm and 4:30 am. Just sprinkles, nothing heavy. Localized indeed! I’m ready for some blue bird September skies!