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Adventure on HooDoo Creek: the young boys check out Mount Gunnison in Colorado

Mount Gunnison was calling as we three 13 years of age boys laid our strategies and set out on our next Colorado back nation adventure. We had studied our Forest Service map and persuaded our parents that we understood what we were doing. It seemed fairly simple. We would follow the Forest Service path about a mile toward Minnesota Pass from Beaver Tank up the East Fork of Minnesota Creek. To get there you headed southeast from Paonia, Colorado following Minnesota Creek along roadway 710. Paonia, Colorado, was a quiet little town about 25 miles up in the mountains from Delta, Colorado following highway 92 and 133. Maturing in the area I saw Paonia valley as a Shangri-La. The mountain ringed valley supplied a remarkable abundance of apples, peaches, cherries, plums, and pears, and the Fourth of July was a community event called Cherry Days.

Completing the Shangri-La illusion, southeast of Paonia, Mount Lamborn and Landsend Peak form an exceptionally close mountainous backdrop for the town. East of Lamborn, above Minnesota Creek, Mount Gunnison stands high, remote and relatively unattainable. We 3 kids suggested to alter that viewpoint, handling the peak, or a minimum of taking a good shot at it. Ron, Larry and I laid out our provisions throughout the living-room flooring, checking our lists and divying up the loads appropriately. Larry with his weight training had the suspicious honor of the heaviest pack load. Ron and I split the staying supplies.

Our adventure forty some years back was equipped in a pre-modern outdoor camping equipment age-- at least in our lives. My Boy Scout backpack was an open bag into which everything was stacked, our tent a piece of tarpaulin strung in between 2 trees.

My folks dropped us off up at the Beaver Reservoir dam, and the adventure started. We excitedly covered the first mile of the path rapidly. Around a mile, a side trail turns sharp left leading around the side of Mount Gunnison, over to Coal Creek on the other side. That was not for us though. It appeared on the map that you could head directly east at that point, following HooDoo Creek as it led up a draw toward the summit of Mount Gunnison. You might see the starts of a trail directing that instructions-- the trail we selected to follow.

Always keeping HooDoo Creek within sight to our left, we followed that narrow, windy trail through the progressively thick brush. It ended up being apparent that the path we were following was probably a game trail going no place in particular. Striking several forks on the course, within an hour of leaving the primary Minnesota Pass Path our trail vanished completely.

Lost? How could we possibly be lost? 3 13 year old young boys method off path, bumbling around in thick forests on the flanks of Mount Gunnison in the West Elk Wilderness Area-- lost-- its possible. Ron climbed up a taller pine in the forest to see if he could construct where we were. It was obvious where we were-- in the middle of a deep pine forest somewhere on the side of the mountain.

We seldom use-- lost-- to our experiences. Afterall, we invested days and days out checking out the mountains, creeks and draws throughout the entire Paonia valley. As long as we could hear HooDoo Creek cascading down the draw to our north, we hadnt strayed vice versa. We knew we might follow it down to the East Fork of Minnesota Creek and our main trail out.

The upward trek toward the summit of Mount Gunnison was doubtful. The journey became bushwhacking, and the day was subsiding. So, we stopped our upward battle, worked our way throughout to HooDoo Creek, and discovered a wonderful spot on the creek bank under the tall pines to pitch camp.

The tarp strung in between trees, the three people jockeyed for which rock we were going to be sleeping on below it. With a fire in the fire ring, we whipped up basic premium camp fare-- Lipton chicken noodle soup-- accompanied by outstanding small potatoes and house made cookies. Following rousing outdoor camping songs, where we learned that Larry had a fledgling profession in the bluegrass market, we settled in for an unforgettable night in the woods.

We struck camp early and waded through leaking wet brush, plodding back down from the lower ridges of Mount Gunnison, continuing singing those very same excellent tunes we shared around the campfire. Possibly we comprehended why there was no path directly

up next to HooDoo Creek, leading to the top of Mount Gunnison. Wouldnt it be fantastic if there were a path up there? we laughed, enjoying the view of the peak as we waited at Beaver Tank for our trip.

Showing back forty-some years on that wonderful experience, I probably wouldnt modification a thing, except for the equipment. And now that Ive discovered that I can start and end that journey in the comfort of close-by motel lodgings in either Cedaredge.