Day 61-63 June 30-July 3rd

Day 61 June 30th I somehow got caught in the snow storm the Friday before the 4th of July.

It was quite the day. I woke up at the Super 8 Motel and headed down to their Continental breakfast. I immediately missed the Hampton Inn. Either way, I scarfed down some cereal, waffle with butter and syrup, two pieces of toast with peanut butter and jelly, yogurt, and some really crappy coffee. The room is fine but for a little bit more I could have had a good breakfast.

The Plan was to eat breakfast head up to Walgreens and buy some supplies and then head out. I got to Walgreens in about 7:30 and realized they didn’t open till 9:00. So I went to Bruegger’s and killed an hour eating bagels and drinking coffee. I hit Walgreens, bought a replacement phone charger and some snacks.

Then I went back to the room to pack up and get ready to hit the trail. I decided since I was near an REI I’d stop by and see if they had my size shoe inserts. I wore a hole in my last pair and took them out in Breckenridge. I paid the price for that since the insoles that come with the shoes ended up giving me a couple blisters.


If you ever have the chance to walk into an REI and look like you just rolled off the trail, definitely do it. They treat you much differently when you walk in with a dirty pack, messy hair, and clearly hiker clothes. I was very happy to see they had my inserts and I went over and looked at a stuff sack for my sleeping quilt. One employee came over and asked if I was on a trail and I said yes. He asked for how long and I told him this was day 61 and his jaw dropped.

I can still remember the days where the sales people at REI were very experienced outdoors people. Now I think they’re just people working for 18 bucks an hour.

It’s sort of a mandatory requirement for me to spend $100 at every REI I walk by. But whatever, new inserts are awesome. Next time I’m going to pair it up with a new pair of shoes, but the good news is these shoes are holding them pretty well.


There was a sandwich shop close by that opened at 10:30 and so I figured I’d grab one last town meal before I headed out. They had a nice little bar inside where I could charge my phone while I ate my sandwich and drink grape Kool-Aid. The Bartender was a bit chatty for my liking and I had hoped to work on my blog while I was in there but he wasn’t having any of that.

While I was eating my sandwich, another guy sat down at the bar ordered a John Daly, which is lemonade iced tea and vodka. He struck up a conversation by asking if I was doing a thru-hike or something. I said yes, I was hiking the CDT and he told me that he had hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2015 and really hoped to do another long hike sometime in the future.

His name is Delilah because when he did the AT in 2015 he took his dog Samson with him. Samson’s not around anymore, and he’s hoping to get a new trail name the next time he’s thru-hiker.

The great thing was he offered to give me a ride to the trail. So I bought his drink and we headed out. It’s not really a long drive, probably 15 minutes from the town to the trailhead.

At the trail

There was a 3,000-foot climber so to start the hike. I felt pretty good and the morning showers had cleared and I thought the rest of the day would be good weather wise.

But just as I arrived at the summit, the wind picked up and it started to snow and or hail. Then came the thunder and lightning. I did my best to find a place to hunker down sort of between a couple of large boulders. While holed up there, I put on my wind pants in my rain pants and my fleece cap.

I gave it 20 minutes or so for the bad stuff to clear, but eventually I knew I needed to keep moving. In those situations, I get very deliberate. Probably from my military background. I run little checklists in my brain. In this instance I asked did I have everything set to avoid possible exposure.

The wind was really whipping pretty hard. I didn’t think I was going to get blown over, but even with my gloves on, my hands were getting cold pretty quickly. Sometimes with your hands they’ll just get numb, but you’re not really in any danger of frostbite.

But I slowly moved through the trail along an extremely exposed ridge. But I was able to move along that ridge until I found a spot where I could get out of the wind and get warmed up. It wasn’t much, and it definitely wasn’t somewhere I could stay for the whole night, but it did give me a chance to make a warm cup of tea and let the storm pass a little bit more.

That was probably the best cup of tea I’ve had in years. It did wonders to warm up my hands but also just gave me a moment to think about what I needed to do to safely proceed.

I figured with the path ahead that I would eventually get out of the wind and that if I just kept moving, eventually I’d get some reprieve. And that if the storm picked up, I could probably find a little bit of shelter to hunker down again and let it pass.

But the good news was I didn’t have to hunker down again. I had to summit one more peak, but this one wasn’t so high, and there wasn’t a huge, exposed ridge afterwards. It took a while to start the descending, but eventually you’re going to come down.

It was quite a bit of snow today, not the snow lake fell but the snow that was already on the ground. I ended up postholing a handful of times and there was definitely enough snow to keep me annoyed and my feet wet just about the whole day.

Fun thru-hiker stuff

But frankly this stuff makes me smile. I didn’t think my life was in danger, and I felt pretty confident in everything I was doing. And these make really cool stories. So while you might read this and think, oh my gosh, how could you do that, weren’t you scared? No, not really.

But this is sort of the stuff I chose the CDT for. This isn’t for everybody. I’m no special mountaineer expert or anything like that, but I am somebody who thinks about safety and how to react to certain situations and who plans out what would happen in scenarios.

I’m also okay if it doesn’t happen again, but if it did, I’d be ready.

Day 62 July 1st With Weather like this who Needs Winter

This morning did not fel like July. I camped on the other side of Berrthoud Pass, and that is a starting point for a lot of day hikers. And by 9:00 a.m. the wind was blowing really hard. I was completely bundled up in my beanie, rain jacket, rain pants, and gloves. The wind was ferocious.

Props to the day hikers who brought all the right gear, but you definitely saw some in shorts and maybe a sweatshirt. They had to be feeling it. Just in time for the wind to let up on the other side of the mountain, the terrain turned to large lava rocks mixed with patches of grass. It’s not my least favorite surface to walk on, but it’s high on that list. That made for a slow-going morning.

The Rocky Mountains are absolutely Rocky. I’m getting the impression that my days are going to be filled with multiple climbs and multiple descents. Maybe throw in a ridge walk or two. But I’m like New Mexico nothing will be easy.

Set up camp a little bit early because I was going to make another ascent, but I saw some weather coming and thought it would be best to just pitch my tent there versus tried to fight the weather and then find a camping spot on the downside.

It made for a shorter day, but the trail isn’t going anywhere.

Day 62 July 2nd I’m much better at Lower Elevation

Last night was the second worst night of camping I’ve had. Not since just North China, where I slept on a teeny patch of grass in the middle of a snowfield was I this uncomfortable. Because I kind of got caught between where I was going and where I was coming from the weather I ended up quickly finding a spot to camp. It wasn’t the most level ground and ended up being really exposed to the wind. And it was super windy. The rattling of the tent kept me up a good portion of the night. I ended up turning off my alarm clock and just seeing how it went.

Wasn’t terrible, I was on the trail by 6:30. I knew I needed to put in some work because the last couple of days the miles have been pretty slow, and I needed to get to the post office in Grand Lake before it closed on Monday, since Tuesday is a holiday. I can barely be bothered with days of the week, so keeping track of federal holidays on the trail has been difficult.

The day started off with more wind and more climbing. I broke the Cardinal rule of be bold and start cold with screw this I’m going to be warm. Even with the sun out, it was still really brisk. I kept my tights on until after lunch and had my rain jacket on for most of the day, or at least until after the second rainstorm.

Eventually, I got to make a pretty large descent. Which was nice, as I get to pick up some easy miles and the weather got considerably nicer. Bad news is, I guess, mosquitoes, lots and lots of mosquitoes. They don’t really bother you when you’re walking, but the minute you stop, they like to say hello. So adding bug spray to the morning routine, which already included sunblock.

Going into town, especially a tourist town during the 4th of July, isn’t an optimal trip. The hostel and the hotel are booked and I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to find a camping spot close by since camping is very popular in Colorado during this weekend.

Rocky Mountain National Park is the next portion of the trail. I’m sort of over the Rocky Mountains and would be willing to skip it, but again I sort of need a place to stay close to Grand Lake. I wonder if they’ll arrest me if I camp in the park. I’ll just tell them I’m from Minneapolis and people do it all the time.

Day 63 July 3rd holidays are not optimal for thru-hikers

I camped near a place called Monarch Lake. Is it gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains and then done a good job of making it look or feel untouched. There was loud music playing, but I figured it was from the campground or Ranch that was down the road. Music ended before 9:00, so it wasn’t so bad.

I got up early because I needed to make it into town and get some mail, some food, some resupply, and to figure out where I was going to spend the night.

On my walk out, I saw a sign that said no parking near the lake, and I realized I broke the rules even though there was no sign like that on the way I came in. I apologize to whoever needs to hear it. But frankly, they don’t make it too easy on the CDT hikers. Pretty much the last 40 miles required some sort of permit to camp, and those had to be made well in advance. I’m not sure what they expect us to do.

The Walk into town was nice. It was around a couple of lakes and for the most part somewhat scenic. It’s a holiday weekend, so there was a ton of boat traffic and some other campers and a whole lot of hikers.

One guy saw me and asked me where I started from. I answered Mexico. He looked at me, certain I was lying, but then I asked the following question of, when did I start? Then he wished me good luck and we moved on.

Grand Lakes is one of those towns that gets bigger during the 4th of July. Not an opportune time for me to visit as a thru-hiker. I didn’t have a room, the hostel didn’t have any space, and so I gave the national park a call and asked if they had any backpacker sites open. She did, but I would need to rent a bear canister and then make my way to the visitor center to pick up the pass. I was calling her around 2:00 and so that gave me an hour and a half to run an errand and then walk mile and a half to the visitor center.

Bear canisters are a pain in the butt. They’re bulky and a little bit heavy. I know why they’re useful, but I told the lady that this was the only place on the CDT that required them. Everywhere else accepted Ursacks, which are a tear-proof bag that you can tie around a tree and work well with rodents and bears.

Very nice park ranger told me that the chief ranger who had been there for 35 years decided that bear canisters were the right way to go. She was super nice and understanding and agreed with my argument, but it just ruffled my feathers knowing some bureaucrat who probably hasn’t hiked or backpacked in years made a decision without any real input. I can see why states get frustrated with the park service and the forestry service, for that matter.

I got to my campsite pretty late, nothing crazy, around 7:00, with the bear canister filled with food. It’s about 15 miles around the park and I’ll make that and head back into town. I was lucky enough to get a bed at the hostel, and for $30, a bed, a shower, and laundry is too good to pass up. They’re also throwing a fourth of July party, so I’ll enjoy that with them.

I plan on drinking a few beers, but only for the calories.

Thanks for reading.

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Comments 7

  • George in Albuquerque : Jul 5th

    Again, wow. Your post really gives me a feeling for your experience, both on the trail and when hitting civilization. Congrats on what you’ve accomplished. I’m looking forward to reading about your route thru The Park. Be warm.

    • Daddy Warbuck$ : Jul 6th

      Meh. Spoiler, lots of burnt trees.

  • Mike Rogers : Jul 5th

    ” a little to chatty”!??! You should hook up with the guy hiking the AT. He mad cause no one will talk to him!!

    • Daddy Warbuck$ : Jul 6th

      I did this trail so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. The bartender was one of those guys who would one second tell you he doesn’t hunt and the next second tell you about killing snakes in the Everglades.

  • Leone Marie Quigley : Jul 6th

    All I can say is wow. LYFE Mom

    • Daddy Warbuck$ : Jul 6th

      I hope you’re enjoying your afternoon thunderstorms down there in Florida.

  • Christopher : Jul 6th

    I always choose my hotels based on the breakfast options. Not even joking! If they’ve got a shitty breakfast, or no breakfast, I’m going someplace else.


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