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Rawah’s Upper Forrester Creek, CO July 29, 2006

December 24, 2006

Posted on December 24, 2006

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As can be seen in the title, this occurred earlier this summer. Still catching up on my trips : ) This should not be an issue as I doubt that there will be much change between last summer, the current date (well, more snow obviously), and next summer.

The area covered is located (mostly) in the Roosevelt National forest. Specifically, just north of the Rawah Wilderness Area. As usual, this is detailed summary description of the hike. It contains several small and low quality photos to give everyone a “flavor” for the hike. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos. In addition, you can view a topo map here and a Google Earth map here. All links will open to a new window. Also, the location marks in the topo map and the Google location are as close as I can determine based on trying to figure out where I was in reality. One of these days (maybe) I’ll pick up a GPS unit and be able to pinpoint the exact locations.

On an earlier hike, still to be reviewed on this site (don’t ask : ), I had attempted to reach what is known as the “Medicine Bow Trail 965” (I believe that I have also seen it called the “Laramie Trail” on older maps, but I’m not positive). The reason for attempting to get to the trail was that I saw it as an optional method to reach “Shipman Park” which is located in the northern section of the Rawah Wilderness area.

Anyway, the other hike, while very pretty and a great day hike, did get me to the Medicine Bow trail. But only after a longish (3-4 mile?) walk. So, almost a 1/2 day hike (for me with an overnight backback) just to reach the main trail which was still a full day’s hike from Shipman Park. Bottom line, find the shortest and quickest route to the Medicine Bow trail.

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On this day I decided to come in on some forest service roads (881/884 of the Routt NF) from the north and see if that would cut off some of the time to hike. Please note that if you try to go this way, get the most up to date forest service maps possible. The roads, their names, and their designations (vehicles allowed) change frequently. Be ready to do three things; one, keep track on the map of where you think you are; two, always keep an eye on the signs; three, be willing to stop and ask directions from others. Also, and this is important, be aware that while these roads can see varying amounts of activity during the year, they can also be fairly remote and untraveled. In addition, sudden storms can cause travel on them to be extremely difficult. Go prepared!

So, I got to the end of what looked like safe driving, pulled over off the “road”, and started hiking. Good thing, because about 50 yards up the road I came upon a bottomless pit of mud.

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There were no signs and very little in the way of established looking trails. I took off on what looked like should be in the correct direction.

After about an hour of slowly getting deeper into “I’m not exactly sure where I am”, I decided that this route was not going to provide me the access point I was looking for. I had gotten to the point of leaving “pointers” to help me remember which way to go. Not a good sign : )

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So, I headed back to the forest service road I had used in the earlier hike (yes, the one that I have not documented yet : ) and drove further up than I had driven before. Primarily looking for a road that appeared to go all the way to Medicine Bow Trail. A spur off of this 4 wheel drive road (Road 143, Roosevelt NF) seemed to end up in the upper Forrester Creek drainage and connect to the Medicine Bow Trail.

Well, my luck was holding out. I got a certain distance down Rd 143 and decided it was too narrow for my vehicle. So, time to get out and hike. Have to admit, it was a pretty hike. And, as seemed to be normal in a lot of these more remote forest service roads, I saw no one.

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Please note that the photo above does NOT show the worst section of the road. So, don’t just take a look at that one photo and assume “no problem, I can drive that”. In addition, the main issue (aside from steep, rocky, muddy spots) is not whether your vehicle can fit through the trees, but what are you going to do if you meet another vehicle headed the other way? If you have a small jeep, you can probably find a place to pull into the trees. If, like me, you have a very large pickup truck, you better hope that the other person will/can get out of your way. Or, be prepared to back up a really, really long ways.

After 3-4 miles I broke out in some really nice upper meadows. And I found what was one of the nicest campgrounds (totally deserted of course) I’d seen in a long time.

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After walking another 1/2 mile or so past the campground I reached a point that allowed me to get a view towards where I thought the Medicine Bow trail might be. Hmmm. Based on the map I had, it looked like another mile or two of hiking.

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So, looked promising, but I’d have to come back another time to fully scout the route. In addition, I may ride my bike up the 4 wheel drive road instead of hiking. That would help cut some time off the trip.

So, with the shadows growing, I headed back to the truck. Instead of following the exact route I’d taken to reach Rd 143, I exited Roosevelt NF (following Rd 200) into the Laramie River valley found south of Woods Landing, WY. This would allow me to get on 103, head north to Woods Landing to WY 230, take that to Laramie, WY, and US 287 south to Fort Collins, CO. So, kind of a winding route back home, but an extremely pretty winding route. Particularly if you see the area at sunset like I did.

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Anyway, very nice day. Saw some very pretty country. And I’ll definitely be back again.

– Geoff Weatherford

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jim permalink
    March 24, 2009 2:22 pm

    the best way to get to shipman park from the north is to find the top of the north fork of laguarde creek and follow that into the park. it is easiest if you try to stay on ythe east side of the creek as much as possible slightly in the woods. many deer trails to pick up. this hike is 3 hours.

    have gone in and out in one day with my kids.

  2. March 28, 2009 6:33 pm

    Jim,

    Hey, appreciate that. I checked on the map and, sure enough, I got to within a quarter of a mile of being able to hit upper Laguarde and hike down.

    But, it was way too late for me to have hiked down it that day. I’ll have to get up there in a Jeep or trail bike some time and make the hike (or, do an overnighter).

    Thanks for the info.

    – Geoff Weatherford

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