Encampment to Rawlins with a hitchhiking adventure back to Atlantic City

Day 109

I never realized how cranky I am in the morning until Paperweight kept pointing it out. I just want to sleep in for an hour, but at 6 he was packing up. We wandered back to the laundry room to charge, use a bathroom, and fill up on water. I highly recommend the Lazy Acres Campground in Riverside, WY. So clean and nicely maintained I would of stayed for days. We headed back to Encampment walking a little over a mile back into the small town of 450 people. The only place serving breakfast today was the Red Wagon. A kind woman who owns the little antique shop with a small food section was so lovely and funny. I like this town! We all ate to our hearts content and I enjoyed a chocolate cake in a mini mason jar the best. Yes for breakfast! The second round of drinks were on her. We spent too long hanging out here, but come on does it really matter. We wandered back outside threw on the pack and headed to the main road leading out of town. Passed a historical home with its information and a photo below. It took maybe half an hour before we were in the back of a pick up zipping up the hill to the top. We jumped out of the truck and walked the road towards another dirt road. Before the dirt road, we saw the trailer parked near a gravel pit. It is open to all hikers and we decided to hangout inside for a bit since the sky was dark. We enjoyed over half an hour listening to the radio before deciding to get going since it still wasn’t raining. The trail followed dirt roads as a few ATVers zipped by. There was a plot of land for sale up here that I would buy in an instant if I had the money. Nice views and easy walking and we ended up doing 19.4 miles today on the day! That’s a great day especially out of town.

Day 110

This morning was slow going both getting out of bed and making it another half a mile down the trail. I managed to get off trail after going around dead trees having to bushwhack through a dense forest then climb under a barbed wire fence. Not the best way to start the day. The trail wanders around sage brush and past lots of cows meaning stepping over cow shit along the way. Back to desert living! The trail led up and down sage grass hills and around angry cows running from us. At times it was a bit rocky, but enjoyable with views of desert in all directions. I took a break along the trail waiting for PW to catch up to me. We began a downhill climb to meet a gravel road that would go on for miles into the next town, Rawlins. It was warm today and lots of cars stopped to ask if we needed water. As we were breaking at a spring, Patience came walking down to us. We hadn’t seen her since Pie Town as she had flipped up. We shared advice and caught up for about an hour before getting back to the road. We walked into the sunset and found a campsite down a road where the three of us set up. 

Day 111

We woke up early and got back onto the road walk. A few miles in we ran into Toes, who I hiked with a bit on the PCT last year. It was nice to catch up and share stories from this year. Maybe I’ll run into him again on another trail. The road turned into pavement and the rush of town was in sight. We walked into town and under the railroad tracks making great time so excited to get to the Thai Restaurant. We followed google maps over the “official” trail straight to the restaurant. CC was waiting with her boots off at a bench. We walked to the door to see a sign saying closed “Aug 8-9 sorry for the inconvenience!” No! There food was so good and we all needed a buffet. We looked at Yogi’s guide and she recommended Buck’s for their burgers. I got one with jalapeños, bacon, pepper jack cheese, and ranch dressing along with a huge portion of handcut fries. It was so delicious! But I was so hungry I would of ate anything. We called the Days Inn where they have a $65 hiker rate and a continental breakfast. Sold! We were excited to check out the Rawlins 4H fair. I wanted fried dough and to ride a couple rides! But all we found were the sheep, goats, chickens, and horse barns. They were selling cotton candy and a few other things, but no rides. It was nice to check up, but we didn’t spent too long wanting the luxuries of town. We stopped at a little ice cream shop first before making our way to the hotel. Magic! We found a can of bear spray in the bin that would save us close to $40. The hotel was nice with comfy beds. I asked the maids kindly for extra shampoo and conditioner. We lounged and cleaned up before shopping for food then grabbing take out from BK. The evening was spent in bed drinking beers and watching the olympics! My shoulder has been killing me and I finally got a little therapy as my shoulder popped maybe back into place. I need to figure it out before my next long hike for sure. Tomorrow we get to figure out how to get to Lander, WY. Over two hours of hitchhiking await us.

Day 112

This morning we destroyed all you can eat breakfast buffet. Then at check out we headed out to the road and slowly walked back to the point where we had been about a month ago. If you haven’t been following my blog you may not know that there is so much snow in Colorado we decided to jump up and hike the basin in June. We made it to the spot where we had started a month ago with a sign and barely trying to hitch yet. I noticed a huge truck carrying what I would later find out was over 20 tons had pulled over. The driver ushered us into his truck and talked our ears off. First time in a big truck as Paperweight and I sat on his bed and Chipmunk sat shotgun. He was a nice guy and all he wanted was someone talk to. He convinced us that we needed to go to Independence Rock, which is the location where people traveling on the Oregon Trail needed to get to by July 4th in order to beat the upcoming winter storms. He assured us it wasn’t too far from the turn we needed to take. As we passed the turn, he kept driving for miles as we go farther and farther from where we needed to be. 63.7 miles total on this leg of the hitch. He dropped us off here and we looked at the rock and signs before heading back to the road to hitch. Cars were going 70 mph and zooming by. We were so far from trail. Chipmunk crossed the road back to the parking lot and asked for riders from people. She was successful as another trucker offered to take us not only back to the junction we needed, but all the way to Atlantic City. Originally, we just wanted to get to Lander, but a ride all the way was even better. His name was Dennis and he was even more of a character! Funny guy with a nice rig. I have a new appreciation for truckers and their lifestyle. He also makes almost double of what I made as an elementary school teacher. Career change? He stopped for us to enjoy a scenic outlook before continuing on. We rode with him for almost two hours as he turned on to the dirt road that leads to the small town of Atlantic City. He took us 113 miles and joined us for a burger at our favorite place, The Grubstake. None of us have ever done that much hitchhiking. It is nice to be back and connect our footsteps. We bid Dennis farewell and slowly made our way out of town. We walked a road towards South Pass City. We passed cows and The Carissa which is the old mine for the town. We camped in the woods very close to town as the sun had set. All our steps are connected and the hitches were fun!


Steamboat Springs, CO to Encampment, WY

Day 105

Woke up reluctantly having not slept too well in town. I miss my queen sized bed and cuddling a dog or cat. We packed a bit then went off to breakfast where I had a Bfast burger with an egg on top with French fries on the side. Decent. I showered one last time and packed everything up. Leaving town behind is tough lately as I just wanted a full day of resting in bed with all our chores done. We jumped on the free public transit and rode the bus for twenty minutes to the farthest point out of town leading back to the trail. I have loved all of the free transit in these Colorado towns. We stood on the side of the road for close to two hours in the blazing sun with no luck. Lots of thumbs ups, waves, shaking finger pointing, pretty sure one gave us the middle finger, a few piece signs, and too many people using their phones while driving to even notice us. Chipmunk gave up after the fifth town bus came back to the stop where we got off. She was heading back to town for ice cream. As she was getting on the bus, a car stopped for us and the two of us climbed in. Bad timing for Chipmunk. Our driver had just finished hiking the CT yesterday and was paying back the kindness she had received by going out of her way to drop us off. To my surprise her boyfriend is someone I hiked with last year on the PCT, Zoolander. What a small world. It down poured as she drove us closer to where we hitched in. We said thank you and put on all our rain gear. We had a few more hundred yards along the highway before turning on to an old dirt road. The rain let up and the sun warmed us up. We passed through a campground near Dumont Lake where we took a break. I had left over pizza and also packed out a soda which made a nice treat. The walking was pleasant and dense trees. It was a wildlife day for sure. First we saw a Moose in the lake swimming across, a mama and baby moose together, and a solo moose thrashing through the trees. I also heard an animal crashing through the campsite. We went a bit off the trail as it was getting dark to camp.

Moose in the lake

Day 106

We got moving early this morning like we have all of Colorado. The terrain was easy to start as we walked through two parking lots before entering Mt. Zirkel wilderness. This area is one of my many favorites. We began climbing uphill then dipping with stunning views and gorgeous lakes. I began the climb up Mt. Zirkel as Paperweight was ahead and ran into Jaz. I crossed our last snowy pass in this section it was maybe 75 feet long, but I took it slow and steady as usual. The sky was threatening and I could see the smoke from the wildfire in the distance. It was a pleasant hike uphill followed by a steep downhill where I caught up with the boys at the stream. We caught up with Jaz who we hadn’t seen since Twin Lakes before heading on. The afternoon miles were nice and it only sprinkled a little bit. We dropped lower and lower before following a road then dipping into the trees then following the same road again. We missed our turn back to the trail since it wasn’t marked and took the road back to the next CDT intersection. It was getting late so we started looking for a spot in a burn section and found nothing. We pushed on and camped near a river on one side with Jaz on the other. We did some solid miles today over 28 for sure. Tonight is my last time sleeping in Colorado… For now!wildfire in the distance

Day 107

We got moving quickly this morning with own goal… Get to Wyoming. I saw a huge moose right on the trail within .1 of our campsite, but I scared him away. The birds were singing today and the sun was out. I came to the sign that read a bridge out use detour. I decided to take a quick snack break and wait for Paperweight to decide what to do. He said “we should just go for it it can’t be that bad.” The trail was very overgrown but we were able to make it through to the spot where the bridge used to be. It was going to be a fun ford. He took his turn very quickly moving over some fallen logs and almost slipping into the river. I walked a log about halfway across and then I just decided to ford it with my shoes on. So I continued on up-and-down paths letting my feet dry out and getting closer and closer to the new state of Wyoming. Most of the roads were ATV roads and pretty wide. I ended up fording another stream this afternoon. Paperweight got ahead of me and I just took my time slowly making my way out of Colorado. He welcomed me to the new state of Wyoming. Colorado was certainly a challenge, but beautiful in every aspect. The Wyoming border had a small sign, rocks showing the border, and a funny note that I included in the pictures before. We took a break here reflecting on our journey before walking into Wyoming. We are back again and the Basin is already complete meaning this state will go very quickly. We walked a few more miles before we camped off the trail hidden in the aspen trees. One of my favorite campsites! Feeling proud.

Day 108

Woke up in Wyoming and it felt great. We weren’t too far from town, but we still are quite a few miles to put in. The trailer is marked for the first bit but then it just turned into a field marked occasionally with cairns. I used my app to help find my way in a few spots. It was pleasant, but not super fast going. We met a couple moving in town and she actually lived in my hometown of Mansfield, MA for a few years actually growing up in Foxboro. She told me it was time to get out of Mansfield and enjoy the rest of this beautiful world. She loves this area and I do too! Actually, I will not be returning to Mansfield! My family is moving away and we will see where I end up. So many options for me! We busted out the last few miles and made it to the paved road. It took 6 cars and about twenty minutes to get a ride into Encampment. I rode in the back with a cute dog. She dropped us off at the Post Office. Well at the post office three different people offered us a ride back to the trail but we explained he had just got into town and was looking forward to lunch. There isn’t much in encampment so we walked a little under a mile down the road to the small town of Riverside. The restaurant there was delicious and I had a huge burger and we split an appetizer. Then we went across the street to the small convenience store that was very overpriced pick up a few items. Chipmunk showed up and joined us as we decided we should just spend the night at the RV park. So off to the RV park where we showered, did laundry, and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon. We went across the street again to have one more meal at the restaurant for dinner and a beer. Another great day in the life of a thru hiker.

Grand Lake to Steamboat Springs- last stop in Colorado

Day 97

Shadowcliff was tough to leave as expected. We took our time this morning wandering back down the hill for a pizza lunch then back to the hostel. We lounged in their main room using the wifi and making phone calls way too late into the afternoon. Maybe around 3pm we wandered back to the trail. We began he hike back up the loop we had completed yesterday to connect back to the trail. We stopped at a USFS center and Chipmunk and I hid in the movie theater watching information about RMNP before he found us. We wandered back to work. It sprinkled a little, but overall was a nice day. The highlight of the day was a mama and baby moose on the side of the trail. They were beautiful and made my day. We did not make it too far this afternoon as we set up a little after 7 calling it a day. We had time to just lounge and relax for a change which was nice. Our big mileage day yesterday took a toll on us all. 

Day 98

We got moving early this morning and walking into the Never Summer Wilderness which has been a running joke for a while. We have not had summer this whole trip. Okay that’s an exaggeration maybe a few days of summer. It was easy walking for the first part then the trail disappeared. We made our way along the divide then took a steep downhill again on shale. I hate this stuff. We took a nice lunch break at a stream surrounded my bright green and relaxed for a bit before getting moving again. We saw lots of people on dirt bikes that tore up the trail, but they are allowed to be here. We crossed a paved road and began to climb up towards the next summit. We went a little ways up, but you could still hear the cars where we camped. 

Day 99

We met our first two Sobos this morning and they were moving quickly. Enjoy the rest of the trail guys it’s beautiful. We began climbing and noticed that we were no on trail via Guthook so we turned around and took the road. No realizing it had been rerouted. We should of stayed on the new trail instead we did the steep old trail instead of the new switchbacks. There is no tread as we began climbing uphill. It was a bitch! It took a long time and I barely felt like I was moving. Lots of slick shale, but I survived. The last bit was pleasant and solid trail to the lookout tower where Paperweight was waiting. We hung out and watched Chipmunk walk along the divide towards us. She was smart and took the new trail which she said was nicely switchbacked. We hung out as the ground squirrels harassed us for a while before beginning the downhill. The trail had markers, but no real trail. It was steep and I took my time as usual they passed me. Still don’t know why I’m so scared of steep downhills maybe because I have fallen so many times. The afternoon miles were on a nice trail again just cruising the divide. We got to the stream as the sun was setting to quickly set up. I had a scary experience with his alcohol stove. I caught my hand on fire and my pant leg for a second, but it didn’t really burn. It freaked me out and I just want my stove back. We climbed into the tent and fell asleep quickly. 

Day 100

I lost the trail this morning at an intersection and decided to just bushwhack straight uphill. It was more work, but definitely quickly. I finally interested the trail and followed it to the gravel road junction where I waited for the other two to catch up for a bit. We walked along this road a while and it was easy on the feet. I chased a herd of cows for over a mile down the gravel road. A highlight was watching a calf hurdle a cattle guard. It was pretty amazing and I wish I had it on video. We cut through a field and down to the highway. Highway walking when it is raining is so annoying. Cars are zipping by and there was very little shoulder. So much road walking today and my feet hate it. Someday they hope to have the trail all connected so there will be no road walks. Someday, we will see. We turned off of the one highway towards the other one that led to Steamboat Springs. A man stopped and offered us a ride which we declined, but Chipmunk took it wanting to have a full zero in town. We found a campsite at an old trailhead parking lot off the highway. We could hear the traffic, but it would save us an expensive night in town. There is no point in getting a hotel room after 7 at night. We set up, cooked, and relaxed as people drove along the road having no idea we were camped nearby. 

Day 101

We packed up early and around 7am we were hitching into Steamboat Springs. It did not take long for a young man to stop and give us a ride. He was so curious about our adventure and we gave him lots of great information. He dropped us off at the visitor center where we got a bus map and some coupon books. I always like a good deal. We crossed the highway to McDonalds. A kind woman said “I saw you outside and a little bird said I had to buy you two breakfast!” Best way to start our day. She kindly bought our meals and chatted for a bit before driving away. Kindness like this warms my heart and I look forward to giving back. We ate then did our errands between grocery stores, an outfitter, and running into Crocs again. We hoped on the bus and made our way to Chipmunk at the hotel. Love free public transit! Every town should have this available to their community. It was an easy day of lying on bed, relaxing, looking ahead, and ordering delivery to the room. Almost a full zero since all we had to do was cross the highway and stuck our our thumbs.

Our angel of the day!

Frisco to Grand Lake and the Rocky Mountain National Park loop

Day 89 

I would of loved to spend a zero day in town, but not this time. The bus ride out of Frisco leads right to the trail. You then just have to cross the busy highway dodging traffic and follow a trail up alongside a ride then cross the road again. The trails goes behind a community of cute homes with a small pond switch backing your way upwards. It took some time, but the sound of the highway and huge vacation homes disappeared out of sight. I wasn’t feeling too great being that favorite time of a ladies month! We pushed on taking a break with Chipmunk at a steam before debating what to do. The sky looked bad and we would be climbing high in elevation or we could do an alternate staying lower then reconnecting. We choose the later and found an old mining boat on a small pond. As we began a gravel road walk, it started to rain so we ducked into the trees. It let up and we began a gradual uphill on this gravel road. I wanted to stop and look at a trail sign and drink some water as Chipmunk caught up to us. It suddenly started to downpour then the temperatures dropped and it turned to freezing rain then hail. There were multiple people on 4 wheelers who rushed back to their cars to stay warm as us three huddled together under a trail sign. It was one of the most intense storms I’ve been in and lightning was striking the peaks around. We could of been up there. We waited an hour until it let up. I was so cold it was brutal. Embrace the brutality is the CDT motto! Why couldn’t any of those people in their heated cars invite us in? Because no one knows about this trail and they all think we are homeless. So we walked uphill again as the clouds broke up and warmed up. We passed a dog sled organization called snow cap. We decided to avoid the high ridge line walking of the CDT and continue on the road since the sky still looked bad. I wanted to hike the trail, but later in the night I realized again we made the right decision. As we continued uphill, it began to thunder nearby so we found the first good campsite and quickly set up our huge tent. We climbed in listening to the storm that overpowered the sound of the river we camped next to. I fell asleep in his arms content and safe in our tent.

Day 90

Luckily, the storms stopped in the morning and we got a very early start walking the gravel road back to the trail. It was chilly, but I warmed up quickly. We are in mining country with lots of raped landscape and remnants of years gone by. The road walk was super steep and exhausting as expected. We connected back to the CDT on a ridge and the sky didn’t look too threatening. We had a quick snack break where we dried out the tent as well. We then began an uphill climb towards the divide. Views in all directions and lots of people riding around on dirt bikes and 4 wheelers. The clouds started to roll in and get darker. We had made it to two of the high points with one left with the two of them said it was time to bail. I wanted to keep going since I only heard thunder once and saw no lightning. It wasn’t raining yet either. But again the majority rules and the downhill on loose rock began. I hate this type of hiking! I like a worn trail and safe footsteps. They flew down the mountain as I struggled and began to panic as my feet kept slipping. It was a knifes edge moment again, but with a few thousand feet drop. I panicked and sat down shaking terribly. They were waiting for me as I was too scared to move. Paperweight came to my rescue again taking my pack and leading me safely to flatter ground. I should of just stayed on the ridge since it never thundered again and only sprinkled for a brief moment. We ended up on a gravel road walking towards a town called Montezuma. Paperweight stopped to get water from a stream to spit it out yelling it tasted acidic and sour. We looked up to see an old mine shaft. So for that reason, I did not get any water for quite a few miles. We walked past hunting cabins and vacation homes on a gravel road before turning onto a paved road through town. We dreamed there would be a little store, but there was nothing. Just some real estate along a lake, old abandoned cabins and mines, and some fast walking. We reconnected at a trail head parking lot and began the climb back up towards the CDT. Chipmunk and I found a good spring where we filled up as it began to sprinkle again. We followed this gravel road past campers set up. Paperweight and I picked a site off the road and in the trees. I was exhausted, but cooked myself dinner and relaxed outside. A few cars drove by and looked at our site then would see a tent without a car as they kept going. 
Day 91

We got on trail early as the sun was rising from behind the ridge we would be climbing. We followed the gravel road until it turned left onto the trail leading uphill. We could see Chipmunk ahead of us already starting the climb. That is one thing I love about these Colorado mountains is the ability to see for miles. We busted out the morning miles easily on a nicely made trail climbing higher and higher. The three of us took a nice morning snack break together before our next climb. The nice trail turned into overgrown grasses and following cairns towards Argentine Pass. It was easy to find your way along this path then the trail got wild! We would be walking the divide up to Mt Grey, which rises to 14,278 feet. Our Ley map described it as walking the spine of the mountain. It sure was an interesting and a terrifying section. It was basically a rock scramble with cliffs on the side of you that dropped thousands of feet. This part didn’t freak me out too bad since it was mostly uphill. I will always feel safer climbing up than down rocks. Chipmunk slipped and fell, but wasn’t hurt so I took it even more slowly. The three of us went at a snails pace as we neared the actual climb to Mt Grey. We could see other hikers going up nice switchbacks and standing at the summit which seemed so far away. We ran into our first mountain goats who moved so gracefully on the rocks. I wished to be a mountain goat today. We began the steep climb towards the summit up the spine. I was breathing hard and slowly moved up the climb. This would be my second 14,000 footer in Colorado. It was a clear day with perfect views all around. You couldn’t ask for a better day! Stunning! We had a snack break and savored the moment before Paperweight and I headed down the nice switchbacks. Chipmunk decided to summit Mt Torres another 14,000 footer, but we didn’t have the energy to do that. The downhill was pleasant as we politely passed numerous hikers nearing the bottom. We ran into a group of volunteers maintaining the 14,000 foot mountains and thanked them. We stopped at the parking lot to use the privy and have a nice lunch break in the shade. It sprinkled for a bit, but the trees protected us. Our trail followed a gravel road farther down to a road. Really glad I’m not going Southbound… It would of been a long climb! We connected to a paved flat bike path where we could walk quickly. There was a nice sturdy bridge over a fast stream. We crossed a major road passed a trailhead and began climbing up again. I giggled as we passed three adults and two kids out for a few nights. They were maybe half a mile from the parking lot and one of the little boys was not having it. He sat down on a log and poured. I would say his pack was way too big. A storm was rolling in and we found a campsite under the trees so we get up quickly near a stream with wildflowers all around. The storm passed over and we enjoyed a peaceful evening after my second 14,000 footer.

Day 92

The morning climb was a great warm up since it was chilly when we started. It was my favorite type of hiking above tree line on a ridge. It was breathtaking all morning. We both walked our own pace and I loved every moment of it. We took a break and watched three men climbing a cornice with their mountain bikes. It was wild to see as one guy slipped and his friend helped him up. They were riding the divide where we had came from. They are insane! We entered Vasquez Peak Wilderness with more epic views. Of course it stormed a little bit today, but no much thankfully. We were above tree line all day before dropping down to a pass. It was the most dangerous road crossing at Berthoud Pass at 11,307 feet. Cars were flying and the crossing is at a curve. I hurried across hoping not to be hit and I made it. At the pass, there is a warming hut and bathrooms. I threw away trash and relaxed in the enclosed room for a bit as we decided how much farther to go. As we were about to leave, I felt a horrible pain in my leg. A bumble bee had just stung me! Inside a building. It hurt like hell and I moaned for a bit before we walked outside to check out a huge CDT sign. We talked a couple retiring in a few years about the trail as they hoped to hike sections in the future. We climbed up from the pass on a large road finding an unlevel spot to camp on with the huge 3 person tent. Not many spots for such a big tent! It was a relaxed evening maybe half a mile up from the highway. 

Day 93
An early morning start to get off the ridges before the afternoon storm. It was tough to wake up and get moving since it was so cold, but the sunrise was wonderful to watch. We considered walking the actual divide, but it looked a little terrifying so we stuck with the nicely maintained trail. We switchbacked down staying on the marked CDT trail. It was fast walking as we cruised along. We began the climb up James Peak later than we wanted to. The sky was threatening and it was storming nearby, but not on us yet. We made it to the top of the pass looked around then quickly began the switchbacks down as a storm was coming. We managed to stay on trail for a few more miles before it hit! It started with hail and horrible thunder. There was no place to hide on the divide so we had to bail to a lower elevation. It was steep at times, but we made it to a gravel road where we found a campsite. It was chilly and we were out of water. He went on a water adventure and I set up the tent including the two air pads. Suddenly, the sun emerged and we had an early evening of rest being close to 5 by the time we stopped. One of the few early nights on trail. 

Day 94
We walked the gravel road back to the CDT at Rollins Pass. It was a nice morning, but a bit chilly. We climbed up then made our way downhill cruising along. It was an easy day of walking past a few lakes and people out fishing. We were motivated by beer today at the smallest bar in Colorado. We took a lunch break at a parking lot with trash cans and a privy. We met a retired cop who had lots of questions, but gave us a diet soda and a few snacks to share. We then hurried along toward our destination. We caught chipmunk and told her about Arapaho Valley Ranch and the bar. She was in as we walked together on a gravel road again then to the ranch. We spent the afternoon here snacking and having a few drinks including a Mississippi mule in a copper mug! Even a round of pool to make the day with the children of the ranch… Kids these days are crazy. We camped in the yard setting up a little drunk and way too late before calling it a night.

Day 95

It took longer than I hoped to leave the ranch. We all took a morning shower, used the wifi, and relaxed on the comfortable couches. A very neat place that I could see myself returning to. We walked past Lake Granby and lots of campsites before connecting to the trail after getting lost for a few minutes. We began a steep uphill past lots of fallen trees that have been cut. Those damn beetles killing all the trees. We saw a huge bald eagle perched on a tree that soared away over the lake. At the top of the climb, we began going downward to hit the batch of down trees. It was tricky walking basically climbing up and over lots of trees, but it ended quickly and was back to fast walking. You walk along the lake for miles and it was enjoyable watching people boating, jet skiing, and just relaxing. We crossed into Rocky Mountain National Park for the last few miles. It rained briefly so we hid in the trees then busted it into Grand Lake. The walking was quick followed by walking a bridge and a few small roads of beautiful homes before entering town. It was a pleasant walk.We were only ten minutes too late for the post office! So we headed into the busy touristy town of Grand Lake. I stopped at an outfitter to buy my third pair of sunglasses. most expensive pair I’ve ever bought for a trail, but maybe they won’t break. PW let me use his for the last few days. Poor guy! His eyes were hurting him and I felt horrible. He is too good to me, but I would of had to night hike this section with my sensitive blue eyes. We went to the Sagebrush restaurant and got seated quickly! Chipmunk joined us a few minutes later. We ordered a large plate of nachos to start off. I guzzled water and lemonade before the delicious burger came and the side salad I ordered. Delicious meal and certainly the busiest place in town. We decided to get to the hostel and check in before doing our shopping. The Shadowcliff is one of my favorite places I have ever stayed minus the fact the bunk rooms are separated by gender. The girls bunk has four beds while the boys have six beds… Be prepared for more women in the future. The building is built on a cliff and is so peaceful. It is hard to describe and more beautiful than any picture would give it justice. We dropped off our things and choose a bed before heading back to the very expensive mountain grocery store. The climb back to the lodge is exhausting since it is uphill, but we are in shape now. It was late when we got back so we just showered and relaxed in our room. We had to set our alarms early to complete the Rocky Mountain Loop.

Day 96
The Rocky Mountain National Park loop is about 27 miles from the front door of Shadowcliff. We were walking out of the door a little before 6 as the sun was rising. Paperweight and I were sharing one pack so we took turns carrying it. It only had water, snacks, and a few other essentials. This is considered part of the CDT, but some hikers skip it since a bear can and permit is required if you are planning to camp in the park. We planned it out to just complete the loop in one day and spend the night at Shadowcliff. The trail was easy to start and it was a bit chilly until the sun came out. It climbs up slowly on a nice trail past a few waterfalls and streams. It is a very peaceful area and we only saw tents in the early hours no other hikers. We slowly climbed upward leaving the trees and getting epic views. It was about a 3,500 foot to the top of our climb and the views did not disappoint. It was about 12 miles to Flattop mountain where we walked a few miles on flat terrain following cairns. We passed a herd of elk taking a break with no care of us being around. It was a peaceful lunch break with a good meal. I had chips and dip, a mini sandwich, and some candy. Don’t forget about the Coca Cola can as well. I like day hikes maybe I should try them more often. I usually just go for the long thru hikes. 😉 We enjoyed our break before heading downhill gently all the way back to the road where we started. If we wouldn’t of took a few other breaks we could of been done around 4. We pushed the miles and really enjoyed a slack pack. We debated skipping this section, but we are in such good shape we couldn’t pass it up. You never know when you will be back somewhere. We went back to the hostel to drop off our packs before going back to the Sagebrush for dinner. We waited an hour to be seated which is absurd for thru hikers, but there is no other place to really eat a good meal in town. The pizza place was closed unfortunately since that was what we were craving. It was a long hour wait, but delicious! We headed back to Shadowcliff to shower and relax a bit. I slept great tonight happy with our decision to hike the RMNP loop.