Day 68 7/6 29 miles
This morning we walked from the campground for a little over a mile until we rejoined the trail in downtown Grand Lake where we proceeded to crush a huge breakfast before moving on. GL is either within Rocky Mountain National Park or right on the edge of it. The deal with the park is you need a permit to camp there overnight. To get a permit you need to be carrying a bear cannister and I most definitely wasn’t going to do that. Our options were to either take a 4 mile trail that cuts through the park or hike a 28 mile horse shoe shaped trail that goes deep within RMNP. We chose the latter, I mean the place is a national treasure after all, and just knew we had to crush all day so we wouldn’t be camping within the park boundaries. It was a wise choice, the place is beautiful. Because it’s a national park the trails are well built, well maintained and nicely graded. Early on it was hot out and I was moving fast so I jumped into an icy cold river to cool off. Possibly the coldest water I’ve ever swam in. This afternoon we spent a lot of time up along a ridge outrunning some fierce looking thunderheads. We then dropped back down below tree line, walked for miles beside a meadow, and then really had to pick up the pace to avoid death by mosquito bite. Queen B is a conscientious objector to the war on bugs and I’m forgetful, so between the two of us we don’t have a drop of bug spray. I always forget while I’m in town and then remember when I’m feeling the wrath of the mosquitoes fury. The situation improved once we got to a road but for about 3 miles this evening the bugs were about as bad as they get. Right around sunset we reached the border of RMNP and the Never Summer Wilderness where we could camp freely without a permit or a bear cannister. Oh yeah we saw 4 moose throughout the day today and dozens of elk up on the ridge.
Day 69 7/7 19 miles
I don’t know what my problem was last night but I just couldn’t sleep. I should have been super tired because of the day I put in on trail but I tossed and turned for hours. So today I was exhausted all day and the trail hasn’t been working in my favor. During the first 6 miles there was a long uphill slog to the top of Bowen Pass and then lots of ups and downs throughout the rest of the day with many blow downs in the trail that we had to climb over, duck under or walk around. During the climb up to Bowen Pass this morning we rounded a corner with QB leading the way and had a close encounter with 4 gigantic moose, 2 bulls and 2 cows. It was wicked cool! They were just chilling there eating and scratching themselves and really didn’t pay us no mind so we watched them for awhile from a safe distance. Today was difficult, mostly because I was running on barely any sleep, but also because the trail was no picnic. We called it early around 6pm at the bottom of another major climb that we can save until tomorrow. Hoping for some rest tonight. A great big moose all sneaky behind that treelooking back from Bowen Passsave that climb for tomorrow
Day 70 7/8 25 miles
Damn! Today was tough. The first few miles were a steep climb up to the top of Parkview Lookout. This might have been the most difficult climb of the whole trip. At least it felt that way, and that’s what really counts, right? At 12,300 feet this is the last time the trail goes up over 12,000 feet. I’m not 100 percent on that though I just glanced at the elevation profile for the rest of the trail. As I was climbing up the ridge to the top of this peak I saw what I could have sworn was a polar bear. That didn’t make any sense though so I convinced myself it was an albino black bear. Turns out it was a mountain goat, I’m an idiot. After the initial climb the trail really didn’t let up the rest of the day. We descended for awhile on a ridge and then it was up and down for miles slowing me down and beating me up. This evening we had one last solid climb before reaching a forest road and finding a spot to camp. Looking back at a pretty rad ridgewalknot a polar bearthat was one beefy climb
Day 71 7/9 25 miles
Last night we finished reading Grapes of Wrath. That was an incredible book. Both thumbs all the way up and what an ending! Queen B and I are trying to come up with a thru hiking summer reading list. So far Huck Finn and Grapes of Wrath both make the cut, next up is Swiss Family Robinson, I’ll keep you posted. Today the trail finally gave us an easy day. Not the most scenic or anything but just good cruising miles. We walked mostly downhill along a dirt forest road for about 15 miles. This was a long dry stretch but thankfully a couple that was camping in an RV at the edge of Arapaho forest hooked us up with some good clean water. Eventually the forest road ended and we walked for about 10 miles along highway 14. It wasn’t super exciting but we moved quickly all day, doing 25 miles without stopping. When we reached rt 40 we stuck our thumbs out and the first car that came by scooped us up and drove us a half hour to the town of Steamboat Springs (I’d like to think it’s me but it’s probably QB that’s been making hitchhiking so easy). I skied here in January and have been looking forward to returning ever since. I’m not big on taking zeroes during a thru hike but there’s a good chance we spend the day here tomorrow. A little rest will definitely do me good and this is just the right town to spend some time in. Feel free to follow me on insta for more pictures and even some videos of this adventure @endlesspsummerRoadwalk: the highway kind
PS All My Love!!!