I woke up at 6 and it was quite chilly on my end of the trailer. I wanted to do some blog work, but I kept getting distracted by the internet, videos I wanted to catch up on and people I wanted to talk to. I got up on several occasions to do various things like swap out batteries that were charging, microwave some breakfast (immediately before I got a text letting me know there was breakfast with the family inside–I declined both because I had just eaten and because I felt it would distract me further from the work that needed doing), put on a jacket, etc. I got everything written and uploaded around 11. It took a lot less time to rearrange and properly pack my gear and change into hiking clothes. Finally, around noon, I went inside the house to bring in the trash from the trailer, fill up my water bag, and announce my departure to Sara, who was working at the table. (The eldest son, Cooper, was back where he’d been the whole time I had been in the house the previous afternoon–on the couch playing Fortnite on the living room TV. No one else was around.)
Anyway, a few minutes later, I was up at the road hitching a ride and got one very quickly. He was an elk hunter returning from three days in the wilderness. He had a lot of information on how hunting elk with a bow worked and an accent of some sort… maybe French Canadian? He probably had a name too but I didn’t get it. He left me at the north edge of town.
My first stop was Boomerang, the outdoors gear consignment shop. I was looking for some cheap warm gloves, but they had nothing in my size that wasn’t at insane retail price. No scarves either.
I was also looking for a pocket knife as I’d mislaid mine somewhere (could still be somewhere in my pack for all I know–a downside of wearing my long johns when in town because they have no pockets). Luckily, it happened in a town with a dozen outdoors stores, but the ones in that area didn’t have any small enough. The last one I tried, BAP again, said try Ski Haus at the other end of town. So I planned to go there after lunch. And I went where the guy there recommended. Back Door Grill, just down the block. “Best burgers in town”
They were pretty busy yet the food still came pretty quickly. They did have some wild burger options. Good curly fries. Nice salad. Only downside was they had that ultra sweet tomatoey ketchup like Hunts. Nothing vinegary to put on the fries.
So I finished up an hour or so later and took the free bus back to the Safeway area. I confirmed I hadn’t left my knife where I had stopped to pack up the food (the last place I remembered using it) and then went into Ski Haus to buy a new one. They had one that was smaller and lighter than mine and had basically everything I needed, so I got it and left.
Noting that a Lyft back up to the pass would cost a hundred bucks if I could even get one, I took the free bus to its southernmost stop and stood on a street corner trying to hitch. It was a busy intersection, so I figured prospects were good. I got a guy going the wrong way calling out his window letting me know he’d take me after he finished some errand in town after about 20 minutes. Ten minutes later, a couple of guys waved me over to their truck before pulling over. They were headed the wrong direction though. Finally, ten minutes later, I got an offer that worked.
Ryan is a New Zealander whose been in the states for six years and absolutely loves the outdoors. His main hobby is trail running, and he was just kind of touring the area looking for cool places to visit. He was headed up to Wyoming next and then apparently out to the California coast for the winter. I guess he had a job he could do from anywhere. He took me not only up to the pass, but the extra 9 miles up CO 14 to where the trail finally leaves the highway and follows the scenic dirt county road 35 for a while. And that’s where he left me.
It was already 5pm at this point, but I didn’t need to go too far to get back into the national forest. I walked for almost two hours (without bothering to pull out my trekking poles) with the only interesting occurrence being a guy flying a small drone over the road to get aerial photos. The drone surprised me when I could see but not hear it because it sounded like a huge swarm of killer bees at first.
I stopped to make dinner on the side of the road when I saw a nice rock. A few of the scattered rainclouds decided to get me wet while I was doing this. One was so insistent that I actually had to get out my rain gear. I hiked out wearing it even though it never rained again once the sun was gone and the full moon was rising. It was good protection against the chill wind rushing through the open areas. But when twilight had fully ended, the wind and clouds disappeared and it got a little warm.
I pulled off into a place it seemed had been used as a campsite before at 8:45 because it had some clear spots among the trees, and I wanted that good wind protection. Sleep long before 11.
Trail miles: 15.9 (actually hiked 5.4)
Distance to Grand Lake: 78.5 miles