Block mountains

CDT Day 57-60: The mountains are calling

TDC Day 57

I wake up early to the noise of traffic on the freeway. I tossed and turned a bit before finally giving up and standing up. I’m in no rush as the shoes I ordered for delivery to town won’t arrive until later today. So, after coffee and updating the blog, I pack my bags and take the free bus downtown. First stop, food, duh. McDonald’s, that’s it. Can’t beat that many calories for $4.

The McDonalds app is available for offers. I swear I only eat here when I’m hiking. Then I head to the gear store to stock up and swap my socks for new ones as mine now have holes in them. I love when I find a gear store that follows the Darn Tough exchange policy. Then I take probiotics at Walmart. I try to take one every day while hiking because my body doesn’t get a lot of natural probiotics and since I drink a lot of questionable water sources. While waiting for the bus, I just like to be still for once and people watch and enjoy the city.

Steamboat is a great place for people watching. A perfect mix of tourists and locals especially at this time of year shoulder season although everyone tells me there isn’t really any real shoulder season here anymore after everyone has moved here to work remotely during the pandemic and also with all the great hiking and mountain biking nearby that you can access through the fall and spring. I meet tons of workers from outside the region, even from other countries. Makes sense, people move here to work, what a great place to live. Then I indulge myself and get a Thai massage. Omg that’s amazing. Have you ever received a Thai massage? It’s like pleasure and pain rolled into one. Kind of like hiking. I became obsessed with Thai massage while living in Thailand. I would get one once a week. Sure, they cost less than $10 there. A little more expensive in Steamboat, but my body needed it so badly. I hadn’t realized how tight every part of my body was. I breathed through the pain as the petite Thai lady pulled me side to side and walked over me, releasing tons of pressure points and tension. She kept giggling and saying, “You’re so tight,” as I nodded and tried to smile through the grimace. That’s what hiking daily for two months will do to one person, I guess. I felt like a million dollars afterwards. My new shoes finally arrived, so I grabbed them and rode the bus as far out of town as possible, then back on the trail. A good old cowboy offered me a ride and even a beer too! Then I had a nice long walk on the road. I ended up on a forest service road and was surprised to see tons of RVs and large tents camped alongside. And then I remember that the archery season opens tomorrow. Looks like I’ll have some company on the track for a while! I hope my stealth door doesn’t look like that of a young buck. Maybe I should have picked up reflective flags to wrap around town. I’m wearing my new Wings of Angels hat which is super comfortable. Thanks Donna!

At some point in the evening, the mosquitoes started attacking me. What the hell! I haven’t seen mosquitoes in weeks! Not cool Colorado! There is always something here! Guess that’s the trade-in for the hot September weather. I enter groves of poplars.

Mmmm, I love these trees, especially the sound they make in the breeze. I find a rare spring and set up camp nearby. I take off my new shoes and toast with a Coors Banquet. Can’t get better than that in Colorado!

CDT Day 58

I wake up early to the sound of passing trucks and razors. Hunters. I try to sleep, but they are loud. It’s really cold when I get out of my tent, but a hot coffee and a steep climb warms me up. Today is so much climbing. And everything happens at altitude.

I am destroyed by mid-morning. Not good. But you just have to keep pushing.

I sneak up on some hunters because it looks like they’re trying to shut up and I guess they’re stalking a deer. But I rather scare them. Maybe not the best idea. I cross a burnt area in the afternoon.

I take this opportunity to dry my gear during lunch which has been wet from several days of dew and is starting to smell a bit musty.

And then I begin the ascent of hell. Straight up two major peaks.

I’m usually pretty good at high altitudes, but for some reason it kicks my ass today. Headaches and all. The first climb, I try to walk normally, but I have to stop so often to try to catch my breath and not die. The second climb, I take it slowly, a lot of small steps. I reach the top as does another hiker on the other side. I happen to know her husband who hikes the trail and she supports him along the way and walks some parts of the trail. We marvel at the view.

We hang out at the emergency shelter for a second before we both bail out in opposite directions.

I have to go down and find water before it gets dark. I take another trail that might have water because I know the CDT doesn’t have it for miles. I get a fresh view of where I’m coming from as I start to descend.

It’s very sketchy rock, but I ended up taking a logging road and found some great water! A few more miles and I finally stop and call it a night as the sun sets behind the mountains. What a long and hard day. Glad to have a rare Mountain House meal for dinner! Thanks Donna!

TDC Day 59

I get up before the sun and I’m glad to see that it’s too early to get up and go back to sleep. When I wake up again, it’s almost 7 am. I can’t believe I slept so late. My body must need it.

I spend the morning walking around in a burn. Bugs are bad. The grasshoppers hurl themselves at me like cannonballs. I don’t know how they can jump so high.

At one point I miss a turn and by the time I realize I’m on the wrong track, I’m pretty far behind. But after inspecting my map, I think I can see a way to link a few more trails together to reconnect to CDT further out. It works and ends up being a breathtaking trail.

And a real good hiking trail, compared to all the crap trails I’ve hiked lately. Why this isn’t the official CDT route is beyond me.

But I can’t say I’m surprised at this point. Whoever designed the CDT must have had a grudge against the world. I spin through pretty forests. And end up in Rocky Mountain National Park. A few years ago there was a massive fire here and a 20 mile section of the trail is closed to hikers…unless you pay $36 for a permit and $5 more to rent a bear box than you have to go through this area. Crossing a burn? Surely not. Sorry Feds, I’m not that stupid. Why we are not allowed to day hike I don’t know. I guess they assume too many tourists will kill themselves trying to climb dead trees or something.

So just about everyone avoids costly burns and walks down the highway.

It cuts about 15 miles and is flat and mostly free so damn it yes. I drive to the town of Grand Lake in the late afternoon and grab a little restock at the extremely overpriced grocery store and an overpriced $14 deli sandwich and enjoy walking around town.

I love these national park towns. It’s still the same mixture of extremely rich and working class. I pass shitty mansions and apartments less than a block away. It’s fun to see newly remodeled homes next to the old 70s style. I honestly prefer the 70s style.

The trail takes me along the lake where I had planned to camp, but the lake isn’t exactly the lush beach I imagined. Between the millions of trees and the four foot thick tall grass and the rocky drop to the lake, there is literally nowhere to camp. But at least I have a nice view of the sunset to walk through.

I keep going until the sun goes down and eventually go off trail on a random hill to find a spot without a million windfalls to camp. Not the best place, but definitely not the worst place I’ve camped. And at least I have a nice sunset. Not at all what I expected Rocky Mountain National Park to look like. We’ll see what tomorrow has in store for us.

CDT Day 60

Waking up to a freezing morning, especially since my tent and sleeping bag are wet with dew from sleeping in the grass. But I’m glad I got out of the prairie because it’s foggy and when I come back down to hike it’s even colder. I walk quickly trying to warm up. Eventually the sun comes out and I’m sweating in all my layers. I walk along a huge lake for miles.

And then enter the mecca of tourism. Omg so many people. Especially since it’s Labor Day weekend. Trying to dodge the cars on the road and passing so many families on the trail. Finally, I come back to the CDT and then there is nobody.

Until I jump to another lake you can drive and same, people everywhere. And then it’s just me and some hunters. In the afternoon I have a massive climb that I have to carry water. 1000 feet per mile is never a fun grade. But the views at the top are amazing.

The marmots chirp and the sky gives the fields the most beautiful colors.

And I get a beautiful sunset and a view of a beautiful lake.

I’m camping up high, totally exposed, but the air is calm and the sky is mostly clear, so I might get lucky with a nice night.

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