June 22, 2022

Looking for Monkey Creek Part 2: The First Hike

Part 1: "What Monkey?"

Park County Road 56 — was I ever here before?

After three hours behind the wheel (two of them spent crossing Park County, which is large), I was on a county road in the Pike National Forest, the Kenosha Mountains on my left and the Tarryalls on my right. I might last have been on this road in high school or as a college freshman, going up with Dad to pack out a big buck mule deer he had shot the day bfore. If this is where we were. It felt like new county to me now.

I found the little two-track Forest Service road at the mouth of Monkey Creek and eased the Jeep over some monumental water bars to a spot where a stone fire ring and a couple of sittin' logs marked a favored camping spot. I put on my day pack, whistled Marco away from some interesting old bones, and started upstream, walking between the spruce forest and the willow bog where the creek lay gurgling — somewhere.

The trail looked like the bank of an abandoned irrigation ditch to me.

A trail presented itself. It looked to me like the bank of a long-gone irrigation ditch, where some early homesteader or rancher had dug from a higher spot on the creek to bring water to a . . . hay meadow? Whatever it was, there is no sign of it now, and soil washing down the mountainside has filled in most of the dish.  

We crossed a little tributary. I looked for tracks. There was one — it had a waffle pattern and looked like a fat-tire mountain bike. And elk droppings. 

The willow bog — no point in trying to fish this.

Then we walked out into the bog where multiple rivulets ran, with the biggest gurgling hidden under scrubby willows. There was no point in coming back with the fly rod.

We started back back to the Jeep. Suddenly, Marco went on full alert — body tense, head and tail high, looking over the expanse of willows.

"Please, let it not be a moose!" I thought. I didn't like the idea of playing Dodge 'em Moose among the spruce trees if there was a cow moose with a calf out there, because Moose Mom will chase a dog. And the dog will run to its owner, and then you have a problem, as in this video: 


I looked but could not see one, so with Marco on-lead we headed down to the road, having walked problably less than a mile. (Big, check. Hairy, check. Scary, check. Upright biped, no check.)

It was time to come at Monkey Creek another way, whereupon things would become more interesting.

Part 3: "Flesh and Blood"

1 comment:

Darrell said...

I have never understood why moose were introduced to Colorado--I gather that they're not considered a native species. They would occasionally wander into the state from Wyoming. I was living in Leadville when they first started spreading from North Park, where they were introduced--one was reported to be heading up Fremont Pass from the Summit County side. This was 40+ years ago.

A moose took up residence in Monument Valley Park some years ago, just west of downtown Colorado Springs. It showed remarkable patience with idiots trying to get selfies and such, it never stomped anyone. The moose eventually disappeared, heading back up into the mountains, I assume.