As we planned our summer outings earlier in the year, I stated in passing, that it would be great to finally hike the Zirkel Circle. My husband and I had hiked other popular hikes in the Zirkel Wilderness in the past several years, and this was the last one for us to check off our “list”. First off, what was I thinking?! I guess, I wasn’t thinking. Maybe this was discussed over wine. Must of been over wine; I don’t think I would have suggested, much less agreed to an 11-mile, 2,400 ft. altitude gain hike. But, since I had “agreed”, off we went on our adventure.
Our home for the weekend was just north of our small town of Steamboat Springs. Seedhouse Campground was very nice, quiet, primitive campground just along the Elk River. This was a perfect home-base for our hike the next day. As instructed by our handy-dandy hike book, we left early and gave ourselves 6 to 7 hours for the round trip.
We couldn’t have asked for a better day. Nice temperature, some white puffy clouds, light breeze; just about perfect. And, off we went…
We decided to go counter-clockwise and headed to Gold Creek Lake, up the saddle, down to Gilpin Lake, and further downhill to the trailhead.
Gold Creek Lake was our first stop after a gradual 3-mile climb from 8,480 ft. at the trailhead. The lake sits at 9,555 ft. The brook trout were hungry. Bill got to fish a bit. Since they were too pretty to eat, we let them go so they can get bigger and fatter. (I was told that was the attitude to have)
After a nice lunch along the lake shores, we were off to our next challenge; the SADDLE. And, what a challenge it was. We hiked another 3 miles to the top, of which, the last 1.5 was one of the hardest climbs I’ve ever done, especially above 11,000 ft. Yeah, the air is pretty thin up there and I should be use to it by now, but… I’m not!
In the end, all the effort was so worth it. I had been to Gilpin Lake before, but to reach the top of the saddle, approx. 11, 540 ft. (+/-), and look at that view, AMAZING. The views were breathtaking. The photos don’t do it justice.
After taking on the views around us, we made the trek down to the lake; just a bit less than a mile. A bit more fishing, some snacks, and just admiring Mother Nature’s handy work.
I’m grateful to live in a place where beauty and solitude is available with a bit of effort on our part. Can’t take any of this beauty for granted. We are blessed.