Trip date: Sept 28, 2019
Caltopo map here: https://caltopo.com/m/C9SM
I finally got around to exploring Lumpy Ridge. I started at the standard trailhead (Lumpy Ridge TH) and moved counter clockwise. Near the intersection of the Dark Mountain Trail and the Cow Creek Trail I followed the ridge to the crest of the Needles.
I often see giant anthills of fine gravel in upper montane and sub-alpine regions between Boulder and the Continental Divide (Coulson Gulch, westerly Gross Reservoir etc). I always think about what their geologic history is and what caused them.
After the peaks at 9821' and 9600' I started an exceptionally difficult bushwhack down a gully running down the back of Lumpy Ridge. The scramble up the ridgeline and the smaller summits had been time consuming and I was almost out of water (again). There were occasional shallow pools that were too shallow to get any water from. I kept following the gully hoping the flow rate would increase and I could fill up my bottle. Well it never materialized but I did get easy water at Cow Creek near where I reached the trail.
On the way back passed gem lake and was very surprised that I could see a small fire burning (it was about 10:00pm). This was quite concerning so I started jogged towards it. Once I got there I realized there was a guy there spending the night. He'd gotten separated from his friend (who knows...) and decided it was best to sleep there because he didn't have a flashlight. I scolded him a bit about having a fire in RMNP (where no fires are allowed outside of campgrounds, and then only during times of low fire danger) but then continued.
When I got to the first parking lot a guy called out to me. I'd been sure the "friend" story was BS but this guy was apparently that friend, and the best part? The guy back at Gem Lake with the fire had the truck keys. It was just over 32 degrees and strangely, incredibly humid.
"It's so cold, I don't know what to do",
He had long pants, a hoody and a hat. He was dressed well enough I wasn't worried for his safety, but I had to admit to myself his night was going to be terrible. I knew he was asking for help indirectly but I couldn't really do much. I was pretty exhausted myself and wasn't going to drive back to Boulder before cooking dinner at my car and a long car-nap (till morning). I didn't have anything to give him. I only had a light down jacket and other clothes for myself, much less an extra sleeping bag. The best I could think to say at the moment was,
"That sucks! Good luck!"
Who says that? I spent the rest of the night laughing (and feeling guilty) about it.