CDT Days 82-83: all the moose

Day 82: Twin Creek to Grand Lake, 7.8 miles

Day 83: Grand Lake to mile 1403.6, 21.4 miles

Total miles: 1187.5

After the emotional afternoon and evening the day before, I was ready to put it behind me and get to the town of Grand Lake. I didn’t anticipate going home there, and felt comfortable enough to continue on at least for another four days and 80 miles to Steamboat Springs. Once there, that would be about a week since I contemplated leaving the trail, and seemed like a good place to reassess our situation.

The hike from Twin Creek was a pretty one, as we walked along the shore of the headwaters of the Colorado River. After a couple miles we veered off the water, and into the woods. We came to a sign pointing for stock to go right and hikers to go left, so we went left. A half mile later we realized the stock route was the actual CDT, so we begrudgingly retraced our steps back to the trail junction and continued on the correct path.

We walked through some tall grass and reeds in a marshy area, and we saw fresh moose scat on the trail. As we came around a corner we heard something large running through the reeds, and we started calling out to keep the moose away from heading in our general direction. We kept making a lot of noise as we tried to asses where the moose was heading, and soon came out of the reeds to see two bull moose pop out the other side of marsh. They were standing on the trail, and since we already startled them, decided it best to give them a wide berth, and bushwhacked off the trail a bit to give them some room.

From there is was an easy walk into town, and we made it to the post office around 10am to pick up our packages. We each had a resupply box sent since Grand Lake only has two small grocery stores with limited supplies. We also received our trowel from REI, and I also ordered new shorts and a top. Both were pieces of maternity wear, as my baby bump is getting bigger by the day and my old shorts are becoming uncomfortable. They both fit; new clothes on the trail are always exciting! The rest of our day in town was spent eating, watching The Office on TV, and catching up on a few errands.

We woke up refreshed, and ready to head out of town. Grand Lake is on the trail, so there was no need to hitch out. The town borders Rocky Mountain National Park, which we walked through a portion of the day before. This morning we reentered it, and chose to take the alternate 4.2 mile route instead of the 22 mile route through the park. You need a bear canister and permit to camp in the park, and we had neither. Along the shortcut we saw four moose, which is nearly a moose per mile ratio. Eating our lunch later, we saw a moose and her calf. We’ve now see moose four days in a row, more than we ever saw living in the woods of Maine!

After lunch we started a six mile hike up to Bowen Pass, along the way entering the Never Summer Wilderness in Arapaho National Forest. True to its name, soon after entering the wilderness the sun tucked behind the clouds and it started to rain. It didn’t last too long fortunately, and we had an enjoyable hike up to the pass. Along the way we met two horse riders, Amber and John, and we enjoyed chatting with them the few times we passed each other on the trail. People in Colorado have generally been quite friendly!

As we neared Bowen Pass the wind picked up, and Never Summer became true again. It snowed briefly on the other side of the pass, as we laughed at how hot it had been the day before in town compared to the Never Summer Wilderness. We stopped to fill up water, and decided that we probably wouldn’t camp near water that evening, as there was a dry stretch coming up. Our packs heavy from water, we continued on. We passed a dead moose, which we smelled before we saw it, and hurried on to get past the stench.

We eventually made it to camp a little after 7pm, happy to have gone over 20 miles, especially since we left town about an hour later than we usually start to hike. We figured if I can’t average 20 miles a day on this section, that it would be time for me to leave the trail in Steamboat Springs. The most important part of the day is that I felt great all day, despite the heavier pack out of town and extra water in the afternoon. Maybe it’s my new shorts!