On 2 May 2005, three friends (Brad, John, Paul) and I decided to test our luck at backpacking. Only John had previous backpacking experience, although none of us doubted our abilities. To get the feel for it, we decided to hike Weden Creek Trail #724 to Gothic Basin, a 2700 foot elevation gain. I had been twice before, but neither time did I explore the area significantly.
The trail begins on Monte Cristo Road, a flat stretch for about 1.7 miles. The trailhead is on the right just before crossing over a bridge. An outhouse also visibly marks the trailhead.
For a while the trail is forgiving, but then the incline picks up and soon we were winded. One of the hikers had talked himself up, so we took the hike slowly for his consideration.
After a couple of miles of the blistering grade, the trail flattens out a little and becomes more scenic. Mountain views appear to the left and waterfalls/streams cascade down to the right. After about another mile, the trails splits off into multiple directions, all of which follow rolling grades.
Off to the left, campsites lay adjacent to rather shear cliffs that descend to Weden Lake. On first arriving, the light misting became a full-out rain and we anxiously sought a campsite. Fortunately, the rain ceased and the ground did a good job of soaking up the water. I forgot a tarp to put under the tent, but we stayed dry through the night.
To my surprise, somebody had gathered wood and made a fire pit. But we had no kindling, and the wood was too wet to make a fire. It was a bit of a spit in the face to find all the materials there but still unable to make a fire.
Still energetic despite the hike, we explored around. First we found a mine shaft near the waterfall leading down toward Weden Lake. Water filled the bottom, so we descended into the darkness slowly, jumping between stones and logs. The tunnel's darkness seemed to eat the light from our only flashlight. We trudged along for maybe an eighth of a mile and then we found the end. Anticlimactic, but the spookiness of the dark cavern was cool enough.
After spelunking, we sought Foggy Lake and I recalled my swim the year before. That year, however, the snow bank ran right into the lake! While the weather consistently improved, it didn't change much. In the morning, however, the sun shone beautifully. Gothic peak exposed itself, and we even saw Del Campo for the first time. The heat even encouraged us to take a morning swim, which was freezing cold. Shortly thereafter we headed down the mountain, each of us content with our two day trip.