CDT Day 81: new lows

Cabin Creek to Twin Creek: 21.4 miles

Total miles: 1158.3

Today started off on a particularly positive note. The maps for the day showed that we’d generally be heading in a downward direction, with some flat sections thrown in, and a few hills. We were heading to below 8500ft elevation on the trail, a change from the 11,000-13,000ft elevation we’ve been existing at for the last few weeks on the trail. I was curious to see if I felt better and moved faster at a lower elevation, and this was my chance to find out.

From the first few miles I already felt better as we progressed down the mountain, and I was feeling good about the prospects for the rest of the day. I’ve also been particularly hungry lately, and I checked the pregnancy app I have on my phone which told me in my 22nd week of pregnancy I may notice my appetite increase due to the growing demands of the baby. I made a mental note to eat frequently throughout the day, to see if that would help keep my energy up as well.

We stopped for an early lunch at 11am, with just short of 10 miles under our belts. From there we continued on down the hill, finally arriving at the bottom and the shores of Monarch Lake. We walked along the west side of the lake, and saw many day hikers out. At the north end of the lake we joined a road, and followed it to Arapaho Valley Ranch. We read mixed reports that there may be a store here, and there was a tiny one the owner opened up for us. We had some cold drinks and snacks, and lined up our room for the town of Grand Lake the next day. We normally don’t schedule before we get into town, but Grand Lake sits next to Rocky Mountain National Park and it was a weekend, so we were afraid the handful of hotels in town would be booked up.

We were feeling really good after our snack, and started our walk around the east side of Lake Granby. We followed a dirt road, until a slightly confusing trailhead that led us back into the woods. My maps said we could stay on the road a little longer, but we decided to duck into the woods and try to follow the CDTC maps. The trail soon petered out, and we were crossing streams on downed logs and bushwhacking through the over grown path. It was quite a change from the well maintained paths of the morning, and we stopped to check our GPS which informed us we were definitely not on the trail. We should have just stayed on the road. We bushwhacked out of the brush to the road, with a couple dozen fresh mosquito bites and scratches.

The road soon turned into a trail however, and started heading uphill. I’d been anticipating this climb all afternoon, and didn’t think it would be too troublesome. Again, I should stop expecting anything from the CDT. Inevitably, pieces of trail I think are going to be hard aren’t, and pieces that should be easy are hard. I don’t know if it was the heat of the day, or the miles catching up to me, but the trail was extremely difficult for me. It wasn’t well maintained, and didn’t seem to make much sense to take us off the beautiful shores of Lake Granby up to dry ridge with dead trees.

We stopped for a snack half way up and I just cried. Garrett asked what was wrong, and all I could say is, “it should be this hard.” I didn’t want to think too much about what was making me upset, as I was afraid if I did I might not make it up the hill. I pulled it together as I watched an ant wrestle with a piece of nut five times the size of it that fell from my snack. It’s not good practice to leave microtrash like that around, but I couldn’t bear to deprive the ant of his prized morsel.

The last bit of uphill went better, but atop of the ridge there were many blow downs we had to cross over which made travel slow. The winds picked up, and the toothpick like trees violently started bending with the gusts. Debris fell out of the trees, and some started to fall down. We were in a dangerous situation, and moved as quickly and carefully as we could to avoid being hit. Fortunately, we didn’t have any close calls, but the experience was trying and I used the last bit of energy to deal with it.

The winds stopped, and we finally started downhill again. Along the way we passed a young bull moose resting in field. He seemed to be unconcerned with us, so we kept a respectful distance, snapped a picture, then continued on our way.

At last we reached the shore again, this time of the Colorado River which feeds into Lake Granby. We found a flat spot to camp, and settled in for the evening. I looked at the lake and was so hot, and all I wanted to do was go swimming. I knew I shouldn’t though, because it was late, my hair would be wet when I went to sleep so I’d be cold, and there were camp chores to be done. I started to cry again. This is definitely not the first hike I’ve cried on, but lately it’s been happening more often. I think Garrett and I both know that is getting to Canada together is becoming less and less likely the more pregnant I become. We’ve started to talk about me getting off the trail, but I’m still holding on to some hope that after this last stretch of Colorado I’ll feel better. Many hikers are starting to get worn out from the terrain. Fingers crossed things improve soon; if not, I’ll be happy to get off the trail knowing that I’m doing the best thing for myself and the baby, but sad to leave Garrett and this adventure behind for the time being.