Day 64-68 July 4th-8th Rocky Mountain National Park to Steamboat Springs
Day 64 July 4th The 4th of July
The trail through Rocky Mountain National Park wasn’t special. I’d call it below average. So much to the park it’s been damaged by recent forest fires. There’s some decent waterfalls and the views weren’t terrible but frankly for the hassle and the cost It took to hike the trail I’d probably pass on it if asked to do it again.
I’ve never been a huge July 4th guy, but without my wife and kids this one was kind of lame. After hiking the Rocky Mountain National park I was happy to be picked up almost immediately trying to hitch back into Grand lake. The van that picked me up was a van I’ve been dreaming about for some time.
A nice couple driving a Winnebago Solis gave me a ride from the trailhead into Grand lake where I had a hostel bed reserved. They were a sweet couple that offered me chips and water. The chips happen to be rice cakes, but whatever.
I’m not much in signs, but most of the day I was spent thinking about my wife because of her affection towards waterfalls and then getting picked up in a van her and I have talked about recently seemed like a signal that I was on the right path. The bottom line is I really want that van. It’s okay to want things.
They dropped me off at the gear shop so I could return my bear canister. I made my way from there to the hostel. The hostel has an incredible view. I had the chance to hang out with an few hikers I had met at twin lakes; Tom, who we now call Thumb and Uncle T, a dude from Paris. After 5 days without seeing another hiker it was a nice break.
We had a nice meal and shared stories. The manager of the place struck up conversation and we ended up talking about my oldest kid who identifiers as non-binary. It was a nice conversation about how they came out and his experience. They had a drag show performance which was fun and something I hadn’t done in years. Somehow I didn’t turn gay.
I couldn’t make it to the fire works finale, but the view from the hostel was special. I just wish my family was there with me.
Day 65 July 5th leaving Rocky Mountain National Park.
I woke up pretty early this morning because the hostel room was a bit steamy with five guys sleeping in there all who probably had too much to drink the night before. I headed down to downtown Grand Lakes to find some breakfast. I hit up the bagel shop and had a bagel breakfast sandwich and a apple crumble bagel with cream cheese and a cookie for dessert. I grabbed a coffee and headed to the laundromat to square away my clothes. One thing I picked up on doing my laundry is that I have to rinse my socks pretty thoroughly before washing, otherwise they don’t come clean.
After laundry I headed back to the hostel to pack up my gear and check out. I wanted to take an easy day I guess it probably quantifies as a near-o but I Still ended up doing 11 or 12 mi.
Before leaving town I grabbed one more meal at the local barbecue place, I had a huge plate of onion rings and nachos topped with pulled pork. I was hoping for more but it was fine and very calorie heavy.
I hit the post office to mail back my ice ax which is a great feeling. One because it’s a couple pounds I don’t have to carry around anymore. Two, it’s super awkward and hangs on the outside of my pack and was always in the way I camp. And third, it means that there is less snow and especially sketchy snow to deal with from here on out.
There was a five or six mile road walk before it turned to actual trail. Most of the trail was pretty wet so it was soggy feet for everything that wasn’t a roadwalk. I found a nice campsite by a creek and it looks like tomorrow will start with a pretty good climb.
Day 66 July 6th It was a Slog
It was one of those days. I didn’t feel like I could ever get going. One second it was sprinkling so I had to put on my rain jacket. The next minute it was sunny and too hot for a rain jacket. Or my shoes were filled with rocks or the trail sucked or whatever. I just never got into a groove.
I hit stop on the day right before a very large climb. When I stopped at around 4:30 there was some rain already and I was a little bit hesitant to keep going because it would get pretty exposed and there was already some weather. I didn’t see any point in trying to brave the weather and then trying to find a campsite some point after the peak. I figured I’d just save that for the morning and hopefully set myself up for a better day.
I could dissect why it was a bad day but I’m pretty sure it was just a combination of the thunder and hail storms the night before and the mediocre weather of the day. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it I’m not in a huge rush to get to Steamboat Springs. I have enough food for another two days easily. In Steamboat Springs is about 45 mi away. So even if I have to stretch the food out a little bit and won’t be too bad.
I’m going to take a zero in Steamboat Springs to do some future planning and to work on a couple of other things that relate to my next career and that kind of stuff. I haven’t had a zero since the family was in town. That’s not an incredibly long time between zeros but I’m old and stuff aches after a while.
Day 67 July 7th It was Much Better Day
I didn’t rush to get up this morning. I knew I’d rise early enough because I’d gone to bed before the sun was down. Whatever made yesterday crappy didn’t carry over to the day. I did over 20 and there was a fair amount of up and down but not a whole bunch of stuff above 11,000 ft. My guess is most of the big elevation is behind me.
I have 18 mi before I hit the highway tomorrow. There is a 9 Mile highway walk I’m hoping to skip with a hitch into Steamboat Springs. I can’t get hitch then I’ll go with the extra seven or eight miles and wait for a bus the next morning. There aren’t a lot of cheap places to stay in Steamboat Springs, so I’m hoping the La Quinta has a room available on a Saturday night.
Otherwise I’m pretty standard day. There were a couple of chipmunks who were bugging me while I was drinking my coffee. I named one of them Harry because he’s annoying and this chipmunk was annoying. Sorry to all those people named Harry. My wife’s dogs name is Harry and he’s really annoying.
Day 68 July 8th Zipping into Steamboat Springs
I had 19 mi before I got to the 8 Mile roadblock. I had a couple of options. First if I made it in good time I try to hitchhike from there into Steamboat Springs. If the hitching opportunities didn’t look good I’d walk the 8 mi to another intersection and try to hitch from there. If that didn’t work I’d camp and take the bus in the morning.
There was nothing unusual about the morning though there was quite a bit of condensation on the outside of the tent so I knew I’d have to stop at some point to let it dry out. It’s not super uncommon but with the Colorado weather sometimes that means might have to stop when it’s sunny. Because if I wait for the afternoons I’m likely to hear sprinkled on again.
After a short climb it was basically all downhill. Not only that it was downhill but on gravel roads, so my pace was very fast. It’s also pretty boring. I usually use that time to catch up on podcasts, but since it was the 4th of July week basically everybody took off, so I had nothing to listen to.
Oh, and the cows are back. I didn’t miss them. I’m guessing they’ll be with me most of the way through Wyoming. There’s nothing better than moving cow poop to set up your tent.
Nice enough guy and he told me that the previous year on this day he had 38 through hikers come through on the 8th of July, but it was just me this year. I explained that a lot of thru hikers changed their route this year because of so much to snow in the San Juans. And that he might get large groups coming the other direction later in the year.
When I got to the highway I tried to find a good spot to hitchhike but it wasn’t optimal. I try to think about a good spot for people to slow down or so where they can see me well in advance. I gave it about 40 minutes and it was a lot of tourists. I know this because it was RVs and high-end SUVs. I get the feeling I’m more likely to be picked up by an old pickup truck or a dirty Subaru.
I decided to keep walking and I’d give the walking hitch a chance. I made it about a mile when a EV car I wasn’t familiar with stopped. I think it was a Mitsubishi hatchback but again I wasn’t familiar with the car. A guy about my age said “hey get on in are you in the CDT?”
I told him yeah and explained my story, and he told me that he always stopped for hikers. He said he was a professor at the Colorado State University and had done some work with the Continental Divide Trail coalition over the years. He owned a condo in Steamboat Springs and made the trip between Fort Carson and Steamboat pretty regularly and tried to stop and saw hikers.
He asked me if I have had any epiphanies on the trail. I explained how I had gone from being very altruistic about my next career to trying to maximize my earning potential. And then he actually brought up a book I’m a big fan of called the Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel.
It’s not a common experience for somebody to give you a ride who also happens to read personal finance books. He is a super awesome guy and offered to give me a ride back to the trail on Monday.
Where I’m supposed to be
I’ve heard someone say once that if you have deja vu that means you where you’re supposed to be. I’m not really a fate or an omen guy, but when things like this hitch happen, I feel like it’s where I’m supposed to be.
The red camper van that pick me up after hiking through the Rocky Mountain National Park really stuck with me. There was a lot of reasons to not do the trail through Rocky Mountain National Park. It was expensive It wasn’t that scenic, there was a ton of forest fire damage, and it would have been faster to skip it. But getting picked up by that red Winnebago Solis told me that I was right where I’m supposed to be I didn’t need you any faster or any slower.
The Rocky mountains have controlled my pace over the last couple of weeks. Some days it’s made me frustrated and some days it’s made me feel proud. But I write this knowing that I’m absolutely on the right pace.
But as I edit this in coffee shop in Steamboat Springs sitting next to a dad and his two kids, I reflect the consequence of what that means. Even if I am meant to be here it means I am away from my wife, kids and dog. And while this is temporary, and an important interlude in my life, eventually it needs to end.
Thanks again for or reading. I know I promised a midpoint review and that still coming.
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