No rain day! Day 86

Today started quite late because everything was wet from condensation and no one really wanted to get out of bed. We had 3 then hikers pass by us before we were ready to leave!

The morning started with a long climb to the top Parkview Mountain which actually wasn’t too bad. I feel strong below 12 000ft now which is encouraging, just as we’re about to leave Colorado!

See the trail? No? That’s cos there isn’t one!

These views never get old!

Tonight we camped a bit earlier because burning calves is still getting used to the altitude here. It was so nice to arrive at camp and have time to do nothing besides set up and relax! I had an incredible dinner tonight with cous cous, cheese, herbs and carrots, it’s always a good evening when the food you made actually tastes so good you could eat more!


Breakfast buffet. Day 85

Today, the day after our zero in grand lake, we found the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever been to. Every morning so far we’ve stopped in at the fat cat cafe for breakfast. When we arrived this morning we found out that they were having a $15 buffet. We were all in! The buffet had a full English breakfast set up, French style pastries, American style biscuits and gravy and an entire table different types of pie! I think I had 4 plates of food, it was so amazing. And everything was fresh! It’s hard to stop eating! I felt slightly sick afterwards but it was completely worth it. 

Around 11 we were ready to leave and hitchhiked to the trail head. We got a ride by a lovely lady in a really nice truck and were able to get on our way. Burning calves is feeling the altitude a little bit so we had a bit of the shorter day because the day included a pretty big climb over Bowen pass. We’re seeing a lot of day hikers at the moment. It’s both nice and annoying. Nice to chat to different people but I’m also so spoilt and used to having the trail to myself. I sometimes forget how to behave around people on the trail! Still, we’re all the for the same reason so inevitably there’s something to say.

I didn’t linger long on the top because there were so many bugs up there and I’ve heard reports of biting flies in the area from party saver who’s already come through.

In the afternoon we walked along a river for a long time where there’d been a heavy rainstorm just before so everything was wet! We had to keep hiking til we got to higher ground before we could camp. We only started cooking around 8:30 and bed time was way too late! Tomorrow looks like a lot of up and down.

Rocky mountain national park. Day 83

This morning we finally got properly introduced to Bob, the owner of the cabin. His family has had property here for a few generations and he said he’d rather have people in the beds than leave them empty! Such amazing generosity! When he heard we were hiking the rocky mountain national park he offered to give us a ride to the trail head. It’s a 25 mile loop through the park that’ll end us back in grand lake.

It was such a beautiful hike, not too tough which was good for burning calves who still needs to acclimatise to the elevation. We saw a moose! My first moose on the trail and also a majestic elk!

Back on the trail together again!
We had incredible weather all day and I was on a hiking high the whole time! It was just a wonderful day! So happy.

When we got back into town Bob invited us for a campfire and s’mores after we’d had dinner. We had a great dinner in town and cane back to a roaring fire and s’mores laid out with raspberries and wine. So civilised!

We enjoyed a couple of s’mores then had to excuse ourselves and head for bed. It had been a long day and I was completely exhausted! I think today has been my favorite day on trail. The perfect day.

27 miles into town. Day 82

Today is all downhill into town. There’s 27 miles to get into Grand Lake and I’m going to try do it all today and hopefully run into the guys there. Also it’s the day burning calves said she’d get into town and I want to be there when she gets in. I just hope the trail is in good condition and the weather holds.

It rained all night last night so my tent is completely soaking wet but that’s ok if I get to dry it out in town. The morning is beautiful with mist between the trees and smells fantastic after all the rain.

The first section of the day is in the forest and even though it’s raining on and off it’s nothing too heavy and annoying, though the miles seem to be going by really slowly. I’ve worked out I need to do just over 2 miles/hour to get to town by 7:30 which gives me enough daylight to sort myself out. I really have to push. It’s easy though when there are views like this.

Rain makes a pleasant change from the sun

After the forest,I reach the first of 3 lakes that I’m passing by today. There are so many people day hiking along this lake and it’s just stunning here, even with the intermittent rain.

I met some forest service workers and they told me the weather is supposed to get better throughout the day which will be a nice change from the previous days! Now that I’ve got the lakes I’m below 9000ft and I can feel my energy flowing back into me. I can hike fast again and I’m not out of breath after every hill. It’s incredible the change! And the sun is out. I’m gonna let the photos speak for themselves here.

Now that I’m lower I’m cruising and I actually get into town at 17:30, way earlier than I expected! When I arrived in town I saw a message from Nuthatch saying the guys had hiked out the day before. My heart sank! Then a few moments later a message came through from mudslide saying he was day hiking and would be back in the afternoon. I was happy again! I couldn’t get hold of him because his phone is acting up. I had no idea where he was in town or of he had a room so I sat in a coffee shop and got hold of burning calves who was just outside of grand lake and was going to hitch in. I could meet up with her at least. While I was waiting for her to get into town I thought I’d look for a room. This town is so expensive! The cheapest room I could find in this horrible motel was way out of my budget! While I was going from place to place this really generous guy who’d seen me walking around town told me he had a small cabin he wasn’t using and offered it to me for the night. He told me he couldn’t stand seeing anyone stay in the motel I was about to book into. Gratefully I accepted and asked if burning calves could stay too. He said the were 4 beds in it so it wasn’t a problem. At that point burning calves arrived in town so I went to meet her and mudslide got internet and we were able to chat. We all met up for dinner and I was able to proudly show them I place we’d secured to stay for the night! That night we all collapsed into bed and slept really soundly. I didn’t even get the name of the guy who was letting us stay in his cabin!

Below 10 000ft. Day 80 and 81

I didn’t write a blog post yesterday partly because I was wet, cold and miserable and partly because I forgot. Yesterday was always going to be a tough day. I looked at the maps and knew there was a lot of summiting of mountains at high altitudes. It started out pretty tough, Stanley mountain was ahead of me and though it wasn’t very long it was high and I’ve realised that over 11 000ft I don’t function very well and what is a small uphill can take me ages to complete. Well Stanley mountain took me ages to complete. 

After that I had Mt flora to climb. She goes all the way up to 13 000ft. It was all good and pleasant until I was about 30 minutes from the summit, then the thunder started. I began making pleading requests to anything out there that might be listening and it seems something heard. The storm held out as I hastily got to the top, crossed the crazy long ridge line that lead down and managed to get into the shelter of some trees. I knocked up a temporary shelter using my ground sheet, expecting it to be over soon, as most storms are. An hour later the rain had subsided enough that I could continue. I got about half a mile before it started up again, this time with even more feriousity. Luckily I was by a more dense set of trees that I ducked into but the rain was coming down in torrents. In the end I rushed to put my tent up in the rain, and succeeded in only siding the ground sheet and fly sheet. The tent I was able to put up from the inside, thankfully!! Everything was completely soaked. It was only 17h but I was not going anywhere else. I changed into dry clothes, cooked some food and went to bed, probably all by 7:30!!

So many wild flowers coming out

This morning I woke up bright and early to the sun shining. Thank goodness! I got ready leisurely and let everything dry off a bit. Today was going to be tough because I didn’t get in nearly as many miles as I’d wanted to the night before so I was gonna try push it. First I had to climb James peak at 13 300ft, over 3000ft in elevation gain! It was hard, especially near the top, which took ages to reach bit it was also a special moment. I don’t think I’ll be going that high again on the CDT! The rest of Colorado is 12 000ft or below and likewise for Wyoming. (I’m pretty sure). 22.5 miles for the day and I’m done!

The top of James peak

Day hikers! Day 79

Today I got back into the trail after 2 wonderful days off hanging out with Becca and Nate. I did as little as possible besides a yoga class and some resupply shopping and it felt great. I’ve been getting a bit tired of being on the trail and also I think putting a lot of pressure on myself to hike a lot of miles and keep up with the guys. This has been wearing me down and I needed some time to revive. The guys have gone ahead and hopefully I’ll meet up with them in the rocky mountain national park in a few days. For now I’m hiking on my own.

Becca dropped me off at the trail head today and I was just surrounded by day hikers! There were so many people out and about which I think is great but I’m also so spoiled with having the trail to myself! After a few miles however, the day hikers became less and once again I had the trail to myself. It was a tough start to the hike with a big uphill to get back onto the divide and things went rather slowly. 
Pretty much as soon as I got up the weather started coming in and I got nervous about potential lightning while I was on the divide. I looked around but there weren’t any really good spots to go down, the sides are pretty sheer. Thankfully all I got was a few drops of rain before the wind blew the clouds away and the sun came out again. What a relief!

I racked up a good 12 miles this afternoon and have found a perfect little flat spot to camp for the night, just below the divide. Tomorrow I’ll start seriously hiking again and I hope to reach the guys in 3 days time. Also burning calves will be coming back to join us as she’s finished her section of the AT now

Greys summit!

Today I reached the highest point on the CDT! I’ve summited greys peak! The day started off pretty well. I slept at 13 600ft which I think really helped my body adjust to the altitude. I hiked off this morning with a spring in my step. It also helped to know that Nate and Becca would be picking me up at the trail head at the end of it all so I had a shower and warm bed to look forward to. 

Once again it was a morning of up and down as I continued walking along the ridge. I think that it’s so much harder because a lot of the time there’s no trail and it’s a straight up and down ridge and often over scree and loose rock. I met up with some other CDT hikers that had descended to the valley because of the storm yesterday and had climbed up that morning. I’m glad I stayed on the ridge, even though I think it was a tougher route.

As I got nearer greys I started to see all the people, the were dozens of them! Streams of ants heading up!

The ants in greys

At the top I met up with some more CDT hikers, kinda sitting a bit apart from the rest. I didn’t stay too long up there, I’d been seeing the view the last couple of days anyway so I got the photos and then started to head down. Becca has to get to work that afternoon so she could only pick me up at 2pm, I had 2 hours to walk 4 miles. Definitely doable but I had to be down before she arrived so I didn’t make her late for work. 

The view from the top
Greys is on the right

It was a pretty easy descent and I passed a lot of day hikers. Respect for the day hikers, they haven’t had as much time as I have to acclimate! I got down pretty quickly, meet up with Nate and Becca and they brought me to their house for a shower and pizza night! The perfect end to an incredible day!

The day that wasn’t the day after

This morning we all had a wonderful sleep in, no one set an alarm so we only woke up at 7! 

We aimed to do 18 miles and hike over the highest point on the CDT, the summit of Grey’s. There were a few different options to take, two of them meant going down into the valley and hiking back up again and the third was to follow the ridge line. We opted for following the ridge and staying high. That meant that we didn’t go below 12 000ft the whole day! It was also the tougher route as we went up and down the entire day, instead of once. I’m going to have to put up a graph of our altitude changes today.

We finally saw some of the famous mountain goats and in fact ran into a while family of them that didn’t seem in the least bit phased by us. 

A short while later I started noticing a build up of could and then thunder rumbling. This was just before we were about to reach another peak on the ridge walk. Instead mudslide and I (party saver was ahead of us) had to head down. I was using my poles to point out the direction of the storm and next thing my hand was getting little shocks from the pole. When I lowered the pole, the shock went away. The whole area was charged with electricity! Definitely good reason to head down! Suddenly the wind picked up and it started pouring with rain. Mudslide and I huddled under his plastic ground sheet to keep the rain off and watched as the storm slowly passed over us. Thankfully there wasn’t too much more thunder and lightning!

At last I admitted that I would be able to summit Grey’s today. It was just too much for me. I’ve decided to do it in the morning. Mudslide and I climbed one more insane mountain before calling it a day and setting up camp. Nothing like ending the day with 1400ft gain in 1 mile! I even looked up at the slope wondering if it was possible to hike. Turns out it was but it was tough.

The day before

Today has been an awesome day. We’re back on the trail after the incredible break with Nate and Becca and it felt good. We had to get back up on the divide but it was such a graded walk that it hardly felt uphill until the very end.

We only went 11 miles today because we had a late start, as we usually do from town. Nate dropped us off at the trail with a promise to meet us on the mountain that night to camp. Him and Becca were going to drive up as far as they could and then hike the rest and meet us.

At one point during the hike I noticed that we were doing an incredibly long switch back and if I cut directly up I saved a mile of hiking. What I didn’t plan on was the guys taking a break at the turn of the switch back and waiting for me. They never break at points like that and I was expecting them to break at the top. Mudslide waited about an hour for me before continuing.

After those switch backs I was pretty much at the top and when I didn’t see the guys I assumed they’d kept hiking on and were just way in front of me. I was wrong about that unfortunately.

In the end, after a fantastic ridge walk, I got to the point where we were meeting Nate and Becca and no one was there. I hiked a bit further and party saver caught up to me. He told me that mudslide had waited for me and had even hiked back a bit to see where I was. The two of us got camp set up and a few minutes later Nate and Becca arrived. Mudslide took another hour to get to camp! :/

Nate and Becca came armed with hot dogs, beer and potato salad! Unfortunately because we were on the ridge we didn’t have firewood so we ended up coming over a little camping stove. It was great though and a perfect evening with an amazing sunset from the fire raging not too far off. 

Tomorrow is a big day, climbing Grey’s, the highest point on the CDT.