New Frontiers – Zirkel Wilderness and Alpine Summits for My Girl

We hike in alone. Our friends would join us late at night,

Every time I’ve presented her with a challenge, my little girl never ceases to amaze me. I’m very proud of my little trooper but this is a hard trip for me to put into words. There are so many emotions that come up when I look back on the weekend, I just can’t articulate my memories. I guess I’ll try my hand at the “photo TR” since I’m really at a loss.

August 15-17

Total Mileage: ~ 22 miles

Total Elevation: ~ 5,000 ft.

The Team: Kimo, Anna, My 7YO daughter, Floyd, and Me

The Mountains: Mt. Zirkel, Elev. 12,180′, CO Rank 1,205 and Flattop Mountain, Elev. 12,118′, CO Rank 1,244

The Journey:

Not a bad side trip to break up the hike to the lake.

Not a bad side trip to break up the hike to the lake. I wanted the new big pack to be empty to get her used to it before I loaded her up. She sneaked 5 stuffed animals in while I wasn’t looking.

This fall was a pleasant surprise.

These falls were a pleasant surprise.

No Bridge = No Problem

No Bridge = No Problem

Enjoying the flowers after an afternoon shower.

Enjoying the flowers after waiting out an afternoon shower under a pine tree.

Nearing Camp

After around 6 miles and 2,400 feet of gain, we finally near camp

Our ascent path followed the shadows

The next day’s ascent path will follow the shadows

Introducing Three Berry Cobbler - a camp staple

Natural High Three Berry Cobbler – a new camp staple – washed down with some hot chocolate, of course

Ready to roll

After a good night’s sleep, she’s ready to roll

Rock = Fun / Loose Scree = Not Fun

Rock = Fun but Loose Scree = Not Fun

We have work to do... a fun class 2 ridge run

Once on top of Pt. 12,006, we have work to do… an enjoyable class 2 ridge run

Atop her first alpine summit

Finally atop her first alpine summit

Half of the family at the top of Routt County

Half of the family at the top of Routt County

Pano from Zirkel's Summit

Pano from Zirkel’s Summit – Big Agnes on the left, north to Wyoming and Peggy Peak on the right

A Look over to Flattop

A Look over to Flattop. With this weather, we might as well try.

Kimo and Anna zoom ahead for Peggy. She has other ideas. We'll attempt to reconvene atop Flattop.

Kimo and Anna zoom ahead for Peggy. She has other ideas. We’ll attempt to reconvene over on Flattop.

Ascending Flattop from Red Dirt Pass. This was not fun to descend.

Deceptively easy ascent of Flattop from Red Dirt Pass. However, I took us down one gully too early on the descent and got us into some not-so-fun stuff.

The never ending mountain.

The never ending mountain or a highway in the sky… depending on your perspective

Doubling her summit count in one day.

Doubling her life’s summit count in one day.

Big Agnes and Zirkel

Big Agnes, Zirkel, and a look at our ridge run

Down valley to the trailhead.

Looking down valley towards the trailhead.

A gentle stroll from Red Dirt

Reciting tongue twisters during a gentle stroll from Red Dirt. The face in the snow seemed to watch us at every angle (notice the bulging rock nose?).

Heading for home

Heading for home and a well-earned father/daughter foot soak in the stream

Our campsite was behind this row of trees.

Our campsite behind this row of trees with a stream adding a relaxing sound to sleep to.

Goodbye Zirkel WIlderness. You treated us well.

Goodbye Zirkel Wilderness. You treated us well.

And Hello Steamboat Smokehouse. Hot wings for her, Pulled Pork for me

And Hello Steamboat Smokehouse. Hot wings for her, pulled pork for me

Floyd is loving, but intrusive

Floyd is loving, but can be intrusive

Thanks for reading!

18 thoughts on “New Frontiers – Zirkel Wilderness and Alpine Summits for My Girl

  1. DKYarian

    Ok….I don’t even know what to say here. This is basically one of my favorite TR’s I’ve ever read. It’s not because of the pics or the peaks or the amazing accomplishment or anything like that necessarily (although all those things are super awesome). But this drive to get out there with you girl and explore the backcountry is just incredible. It is beyond inspiring for me and I can’t wait to do the same with my kids someday. It’s totally obvious what a great trip and a special memory this weekend was. Seeing the pics was a real treat. Your a damn fine dad. We need more guys like you out in the hills. Thanks for sharing – really moved by this one.
    Oh and BTW…..I am 100% buying myself a pair or onesie camp pajamas now. Those things are rad!

    1. Floyd Post author

      DK, first off, thank you very much for the kind words. We really did have a great time and she looks forward to our trips. Also, if you want to get the kids out together, let me know. I’m actually taking our 4YO out for her first backpacking trip this weekend. They’re never too young (although, I’m not into packing out diapers) and this one started when she was 2 1/2. 100% on the PJs huh? We’ll need photographic proof in your next TR.

      1. DKYarian (Zambo)

        Haha….I guess I should clarify: there’s no kids in my world, yet. But posts like these certainly help nudge in that direction. Although yes, packing out diapers does sound pretty terrible.
        And ya buddy, the onesie is a’comin. I feel like it would make a good tandem with Brian’s panda suit on one of these summits!

  2. Brian

    Good stuff Scot – all around. Glad to see your 7YO is learning the wonders of the wilderness at a young age. Good to see Floyd out there still kickin as well. Thanks for pathing the way for a new frontier on ETR.
    How would you rate the Steamboat Smokehouse compared to others?

    1. Floyd Post author

      Thanks Brian. She’s loving every minute that isn’t on slippery gravel. Sadly, this trip was a little bittersweet as Floyd is definitely slowing down. He’s 9 so it’s understandable, but I don’t have too many more trips with the ol’ mutt. He’s been a special climbing partner over the years.
      The Smokehouse is strong – probably around the Smokin’ Yards level. Definitely above Smoke in Basalt (beats it in taste, price, and portion), but doesn’t come close to Zack’s. The service was a little slow, but I think that’s just because we were there around 2:30.
      Good luck on the JMT!

  3. Brandon Chalk

    Scot – I know we’ve never met, but I love this trip report. One of the best I’ve read. Its so very inspiring for me that you are getting your girls out in the wilderness with you. You are a great Dad. I hope to do the same with my daughter, who will be coming into this world come mid-October! Cheers and thanks for being a great role model for us all.


    1. Floyd Post author

      Brandon, thanks and congrats! Be careful, girls grab your heart pretty fast. And you’re incorrect… I won’t forget my surprise when I ran into you and your dog at the crux tower on the Wilson -> ED traverse several Labor Day’s ago. I hope our paths cross soon, but it sounds like you’ll have your hands full for a while.
      By the way, excellent Slate TR! That’s a special place.

      1. Brandon Chalk

        Wow, Scot! I can’t believe you remember that! Man, yeah, that was Labor Day weekend 2007. Where did we run into you again? My memory sorta sucks. Organ Pipes?

  4. kimo

    That was one for the books, my friend. It was a real pleasure to spend some time in the wild with you, Lenja, and Floyd. Lenja has a fantastic attitude toward the mountains. You’ve done a great job at showing her the way.

    1. Floyd Post author

      A very enjoyable weekend and I hope we can make it happen again soon. I’ll be pushing you guys hard for that week trip next year! We still have our sticky points with some of the terrain, but I’m not going to let her lower herself to needing a trail all the time! As the Cooney’s say in their summit registers, “Beaten paths are for beaten men.”

  5. Dillon

    Scot – this is great man! She looks so happy out there. You do a nice job of telling her story with these pics. I can’t wait for Nokhu Hut Trip 2034 as we all sit back and watch the little ones roll up Mahler and Richtofen with your daughter leading the charge. Cheers to a Summer of ’14 to remember amigo!

    1. Floyd Post author

      Thanks Dillon. She was grinning ear to ear about 95% of the time, which is probably a better percentage than I carry on most trips. 2034? It may be 2054 before I subject her to that debauchery. Speaking of which, I’m going to need to start working on Nokhu 2015 soon!

    1. Floyd Post author

      Ed, you and the girls were missed! Ahh next year… we have something big planned. I’ll be in touch very soon so you can have it on the calendar. I just need to get it mapped out.

  6. Ben

    Scot, I echo everything the rest have said. It’s super inspiring to me as well that you’re getting out there with your daughter. And in a sweet area to boot. Awesome stuff man!

    1. Floyd Post author

      I figured I had to show her something outside of RMNP at some point. Zirkel area was a pleasant surprise. Agnes looked like an incredible massif and begged of an adventure in the future.

  7. Anna

    Your daughter’s an absolute trooper! It was a great pleasure to join the three of you on this jaunt. Other than the feline friend we met on our pack in, I’d have to say this trip was pretty much as good as it gets. Love the TR – really highlights the more important things in life. Until next time…

    1. Floyd Post author

      Thanks Anna! It was great to have you guys along for the ride too. She does have an adventurous spirit, hopefully we can work out the kinks with some sticky points but she’s off to a great start. With the summer we’ve had, I can’t believe the weather window we got that weekend. Incredible time and I’m glad that cat didn’t get curious.


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