Continental Divide Trail – Day 71

August 2, 2023
Miles Today/ Total: 22.1 / 1,187.6

The people downstairs decided they wanted to go out on their patio last night and drink and talk loudly for awhile. They woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep for awhile because of their loud talking.

I was tired this morning and didn’t want to get around. I made myself get up and shower to wake myself up. I dressed and finished packing up my gear and left the hotel about 6:45.

I walked over to McDonald’s and got myself some breakfast and more importantly some coffee. After eating I started walking and hitching to Grand Lake. I had only been walking for about 15 minutes when a guy pulled over and offered me a ride. As we rode to Grand Lake I discovered that he was from Moore, Oklahoma and had moved out to Colorado a few years ago. It’s nice to meet a fellow Oklahoman on the road.

He dropped me off in Grand Lake where I got off trail and I began walking north. The trail led down Main Street and turned off then headed up a hill toward Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Due to the extra days off trail I decided to take the RMNP cutoff which bypassed a 21 mile loop through RMNP.

There was a fire closure on the cutoff so I had a 4 mile road walk before rejoining the CDT. The trail then climbed up a hill and through the woods and the first thunderstorm of the day began to fall on me. I opened my umbrella and kept dry, but the mosquitoes took advantage of the rain and began to swarm me. The rain soon stopped and I stopped an coated any exposed skin with Picaridin and sprayed some on my clothes since they were biting through my shirt. This worked wonders and soon there were no mosquitoes around me.

The trail crossed the road and followed the Bowen Gulch trail as it climbed out of RMNP. I saw a moose eating grass and she really didn’t seem to care if I was there or not.

Continuing on there was a creek I had to wade across before leaving RMNP and entered the Never Summer Wilderness. The trail continued a gradual climb following Bowen Gulch and as I neared Bowen Pass the second thunderstorm of the day started up. This rain was considerably harder and since I was reaching tree line, I found a dry spot under some pine trees and hunkered down under my umbrella to wait the storm out. It moved through pretty quickly and I was back on the trail in about 15 minutes.

Leaving the trees the trail crossed an alpine meadow where I saw another female moose eating. She watched me pretty closely but didn’t run off. As I started the final climb to Bowen Pass I noticed an animal standing at the top of the pass watching me. As I got closer it began descending not the valley. Soon another one came up behind and started descending as well. It was 2 bighorn sheep. They stayed pretty far away as the walked across the face of the mountain. Soon 5 more came over the ridge and joined them. A whole herd of bighorn sheep.

I continued to climb up to the pass and then started the descent down the other side. It appeared that there was more rain on this side of the mountain as there were several water puddles on the trail. The trail dropped slightly into the valley then followed the mountainside around for a couple of miles before dropping deeper into the valley.

I found a campsite near a small stream and claimed it for the night. I setup my tent, cooked dinner, and watched a couple of deer come down to the water as I ate. I crawled into the tent as the night air began to cool off.

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