Elevation: 7,500 ft - 8,100 ft
Elevation Gain: 600 ft
Then, the other night I bought a topo map of the area for a hike we were planning for Thanksgiving day and I started studying it. I realized the trail we did that weekend was the Gashouse Gulch-Baldy Trail Loop. We walked the loop counterclockwise starting at the Gashouse Gulch trail head.
By far the most interesting aspect of this hike is the burn zone. Huge piles of rocks that would have been hidden by trees were suddenly visible through the burned out stumps. I felt like a voyeur, peeking into Mother Nature's lingerie drawer. Somehow I could tell that this geology was never meant to be seen so openly by human eyes. The weather that day was characteristically schizophrenic. We put on layers, we took them off, we put them on and took them off again in an endless cycle. Was this Mother Nature sighing at our intrusion and the folly of man that lade bear her secret places?
Map showing the extent of the Buffalo Creek Fire (1996) and the High Meadows Fire (2000). Click on the image for a larger view. You can also see this loop and other trails in the area.
The Buffalo Creek fire occurred in 1996 and burned 12,000 acres. It burned very hot and most of the trees were totally destroyed. While grasses returned within six years, it will take a century or more for the trees to return.
I took these photos long before I started blogging and they do not represent a complete picture of the route. In fact they only represent the first couple of miles that are within the burn zone. Still, since it may be a very long time indeed before I ever retrace my steps and this trail is not well known, I decided to post them anyway.
If you decide to camp near Buffalo Creek, give this trail a try. Just bring plenty of water. There was none in the campground despite advertising to the contrary and the camp hosts were making a killing selling jugs of the stuff. Folly of man indeed.