Paul Schlarman Imagery

travel {to} live

West Elk Wilderness

My adventure begins with a camping trip to Lost Lake on Kebler pass with an overnight backpack trip into the West Elk Wilderness.  My chosen route over Cottonwood pass afforded the opportunity to witness a gorgeous sunset.

Cottonwood Pass

After a decent night’s rest at Lost Lake, I loaded my pack and headed over Beckwith pass and into the West Elk Wilderness.

On the Way to Beckwith Pass

I enjoyed incredibly nice weather all day and only encountered four people the entire trip.  At the summit of Beckwith pass, after discovering that there was a good possibility of rain, I had a decision to make: head back to camp now and get in just after dark, or continue into the West Elk wilderness and make camp there.  I chose to push forward – I’m ready for just about anything – how bad could it get?

The Summit of Beckwith Pass

Spectacular weather and views ensued for the rest of the afternoon/evening.  My campsite was nestled in a meadow with 360 degree views.  At sunset, I found myself finishing dinner with water acquired and camp set up – perfect timing.  A family of deer passed through casting some curious glances my way – perhaps wondering if I was a bit crazy.  I didn’t build a fire, so I decided to hit the sack early.


I watched the moon track across the sky from my tent door until I drifted off to sleep.  Around 10 p.m., the wind started picking up along with some doubts about my decision.  By midnight, my little tent was barely holding its own against wave after wave of powerful gusts of wind and blasts of rain.  This continued all night.  I didn’t sleep all that well, just waiting for the sunrise and hoping this would calm things down a bit.  I looked out my door and saw nothing but rain and mist and the outlines of a few mountains.

Campsite in Eden

7 a.m. finally arrived and the light started to grow.  And so did the storm.  Now I am being pelted with hail.  I tell myself that I should just hang tight for a little longer and wait for a break before jumping out into the weather and getting completely pelted and soaked.  Luckily, this turned out to be the right decision.  About half an hour later, there was a slight break in the weather.  My entire camp was in my pack in less than 5 minutes and I was on the trail.

Breakfast consisted of Sharkies and pretzels while on the go.  The weather slowly cleared a bit and held with just spotty rain and hail for the return hike to camp.

I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.  I took a chance and nature tolerated me briefly in her domain.  Feeling envigorated and thankful, I took one last look at truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in the world and headed down the trail back to my car and civilization.

On my way to McClure pass, I consoled the multiple victims of the same wind I had endured the night before.

The Power of Wind


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