Archive for the ‘Colorado’ Category

Sunday, July 10 Wow, Some Nice Trail!

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

SUMMARY:  A very strong wind came up during the night, and it dried all our damp stuff, but whew, we had to be careful during packup, not to let anything get blown away! And for the first 3 hours or so, hiking was hard. The wind was very cold and really pushing us around as we hiked across the high tundra from cairn to cairn.

Finally we got down off the Divide and the trail became a trail, and mostly very nice. We were finally able to actually hike, and even hike fast, through intensely green meadows, across creeks, and through forests. We met many dayhikers, often accompanied by dogs, except for one family with 2 goats!

In the afternoon, we were on really nice trail where we could just sail along. The weather continues to be gorgeous, for which we are very grateful.

DETAILS:  Fixit and I were both really wasted last night not just from killer uphills and rough going, but from the constant strain of looking for cairns and hoping we got it right about where the trail was.  It also dripped and rained a bit, which meant our stuff was damp.  BUT–last night, quite a wind came up and dried everything very well–what a blessing!  It was still blowing cold and fierce when we got up, and we had to be super-careful not to let anything get blown away as we packed up.  It was so cold that I put on ALL my layers–polyester longsleeve top, down jacket AND raingear.

Bracing ourselves against the wind, we set out once again to continue following cairns across the high tundra, trying to avoid the melting snowfields, which this early in the morning were icy and slippery.  Of course snowMELT also meant that there were large swampy/marshy areas.  At first we tried to pick our way across these, but that was such slow going that we finally gave up and said, “Oh well!” and sloshed straight through them.  No more dry socks!   This continued for a couple of hours, and was pretty discouraging.

But finally we got to the point where we could keep a sharp eye out for one of J.Ley’s alternate routes-the Wyoming Trail, followed by the Three Island Lake Trail.  What a thrill when we reached it–a TRAIL, a real trail, confirmed by rock cairns.  At first it was still up high on the Divide, then it dropped down (unfortunately, on very rough treadway) to the Three Lakes Trail.  My hopes of making 24 miles today began to fade as I crept cautiously along.  (I am awful at steep downhills on rough stuff).

But once we were down, things got a lot better!  There was a good stretch of clear, even trail, where at last we could really hike, and even go fast!  We reached Three Island Lake, and it was gorgeous–deep, deep blue, complete with dramatic mountain backdrop, lovely forest, and intensely green meadows nearby.  The wind was still blowing, so there were no mosquitoes!  The outlet creek was really pretty, too.  In places it dropped off, roaring cheerfully, into deep, narrow gorges, with the trail tracking along just above.  Very awesome, but we did have to be careful–a false step and we would have been down in the gorge with the creek!

At that point, we began to meet dayhikers.  Several were hiking with their dogs, but one family was out with their GOATS!  The goats were on leash (just like a dog) and appeared to be having a great time.  I was really glad to see folks out hiking together!

The trail became increasingly overgrown with thimbleberry bushes full of flowers (no berries yet).  It was good trail, but very narrow, and with all those dayhikers going by, we decided we wouldn’t stop for lunch till we reached the road.  When we got there, I set up and started cooking, and Fixit just lay down in the shade.  He was really tired.  I had fun watching 3 young guys who were getting ready to go out backpacking.  They weren’t very organized, and it took them forever to get their gear sorted out and load their packs, but they finally got going.

After lunch, Fixit and I headed into a warm, but breezy afternoon, on mostly very nice trail.  We were able once again to hike fast, which is something we really enjoyed.  We passed through beautiful meadows, green aspen groves…but also a lot of burned forest.  So sad!  But what was weird–we have never experienced this before–when the wind blew through the burned forest, it made a spooky, sort of whining, howling sound, like “haunted house sound effects.”  We did end up with one brief roadwalk, because the trail bridge over the Elk River had been washed out, and signs directed us to walk over to the road bridge instead.

So tonight we are camped by a trail junction, in a pretty, unburned section of forest, with crowds of mosquitoes hanging around.  We did end up making good miles today, and tomorrow–WYOMING!



Saturday, July 9 Ain’t Over Yet

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

SUMMARY:  Well, we thought we were done with the big mountains and steep climbs at high altitudes. Nope. Today was a re-run of some of the toughest challenges, as we went through the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness. There were big snowfields to negotiate, miles and miles of following cairns (no trail) way high on the Divide, and steep climbs at 11,000 and 12,000 feet.

We were totally wasted by the end of the day, because to add to the fun, we had super-heavy packs with 6 days of food (enough to get us all the way to Rawlins) and full loads of water. Whew. But glorious views and beautiful weather.

DETAILS:  We headed out today very happily, thinking, “We’re almost done with Colorado–should be a lot easier now!” And indeed, for awhile this morning we had nice trail–especially nice because somebody had recently been through and logged out the blowdowns, which made for MUCH easier going!

But it was a steady uphill, which gradually got steeper and steeper (tough on us with full packs of 6 days worth of food) and when it finally leveled out again, we were at well over 11,000 feet, at which point the trail disappeared.  We were back to hunt ‘n peck for cairns and rock ducks.  With two of us on the lookout, we did manage to follow the route–but then it climbed yet higher, to over 12,000 feet again, and we were dealing with snowfields as well.  It was tough.

But we are in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, which is dramatically beautiful, and being up that high made for some amazing scenery–we felt almost as if we were on top of the world.  We saw a number of very pretty alpine lakes, and there were wildflowers galore.  The weather was gorgeous–sunshine, puffy white clouds, not too much wind, not too hot or too cold.  And no mosquitoes!  Wow!  I could list a whole lot of superlatives and that would still not adequately describe what we were experiencing.

By day’s end, Fixit and I were both totally wasted, from heavy packs, rough trail, steep climbs, altitude, and the stress of having to spend so much time hunting for which way to go…..balanced by the joy of the awesome beauty around us.  We should sleep well tonight!

Friday, July 8 God Provides Rides

Friday, July 8th, 2016

SUMMARY:  This morning we did a lot of eating—two breakfasts—one at the motel, the other at a restaurant. Then came the hurry of doing all the rest of our town chores, and loading packs. For lunch, we went to the awesome Lyon’s Soda Fountain and each had a giant banana split. The customers could not believe we could eat so much! Then we tried hitchhiking.

I made a sign, “CDT Hiker to Rabbit Ears Pass” but no luck. So we took the free bus to the end of the line and tried again. In only a few minutes, a girl stopped and offered to drive us 4 miles. Sure! That’s progress. And then, where she had to drop us off, there was a big huge truck parked by the road. The driver said “Sure—I can drive you to the pass.” So God provided us with a way back to the CDT—we are very grateful!

DETAILS:  I am so used to being up at 5:20 that I just could not sleep in any later than 6:20.  So I got up then, sorted through all our food and made a shopping list.  I am still worried about trail conditions, so I plan to bring an extra day’s worth of food, more than we’d originally planned for.  Then it was off to the continental breakfast at the motel, where Fixit and I scarfed up some of everything they had, while somewhat cringing at the TV news that was blaring in the background.  Man, are we glad to be out in the wilderness this summer–I would hate having to deal with all the presidential primary wrangling every single day.

After that breakfast, we walked down the street to Winona’s restaurant for a SECOND breakfast.  It was already a warm day, and we were able to sit outside.  Steamboat Springs is a very touristy town, and most of the prices reflect that, but Winona’s was much more reasonable.  The food was good, too!

Then it was time to go grocery shopping.  Besides an extra day of food, I also got a marker pen to make a sign that may help us hitch back to the CDT.  We’ve heard it can be difficult, so a sign might help.  I loaded up the food bags with SIX days worth of eatables.  Heeeeeeavy!  Groan.  But I don’t want to run out again.  By then it was 11:00 am and we had to be out of our room, so we moved to the “breakfast room” at the motel, where I finished writing this journal (so I could mail it home), plus wrote out more little cards for Fixit to hand out (they have our website and info) and made a cardboard sign that said, “CDT HIKERS to RABBIT EARS PASS”.

Then we took our packs and “hiked” back down the main street again to Lyon’s Drug Store, to get their famous banana splits.  When the other customers heard us each ordering a split, they said, “You’d do better if you just get ONE, then divide it.”  Hah!  They don’t know how much thruhikers can eat!   While we waited, we watched the girl who was running the soda fountain.  She was amazing–lightning fast, yet cheerful and friendly.  She has multi-tasking down to a science!  She handed us our banana splits, and they were HUGE!   No problem, though–we ate every last bit, to the amazement of the other customers.

Then it was time to walk out to the “end” of town and try to hitch hike.  Along the way, I stopped at a gas station to get a map of Wyoming (just in case we need to bail off the trail) and also a bunch of candy bars.  The Natural Grocery store where I got our other food does NOT have candy!   We tried and tried to hitch a ride, for some time, but no luck at all, so we decided to take the free shuttle bus out to the very end of town and try again there.  And on the bus–surprise!  We met Eric the Red!  He did not look well, and told us he’d been very sick with giardia, so sick that he could not hike.  He’s been staying in Steamboat Springs trying to recover enough to return to the trail.  We felt so bad for him–he made a lot of sacrifices in order to do the CDT this summer.  He got off before we did, and we sadly watched him walk away.  I thought, “Oh Lord, that could have been us.  Thank you for helping us stay well.  Thank you for Aqua Mira.”

The end of the bus line really was at the very edge of “civilization”, and again we held out our sign and our thumbs.  Many cars went by, but then one finally stopped.  It was a sweet young girl who was actually in the process of moving, so her car was full of boxes and stuff.  She said, “If you can fit yourselves in, I can give you a ride for 4 miles…that’s where I turn off the highway.”  Well, we figured, “Hey, that’s progress!  We’ll go for it!” and squeezed ourselves in with her.  She dropped us off at a wide pullout space down the highway, where two big trucks were already parked.   I immediately decided to beg for a ride.  The driver of truck #1 said, “Well, normally I don’t pick up hitch hikers, but you guys look OK.  Right now, I’m having AC problems with the truck, and it’s getting looked at.  So if you don’t mind waiting a bit…..”   Hey, we did NOT mind!

Less than an hour later we were on our way.  Turned out that the truck was hauling the stuff that comes out of the ground when they are digging an oil well.  It’s sort of a mix of sand/dirt/oil, and it has to go to a special landfill so it doesn’t pollute everything.  The driver said he used to be building houses back in Georgia, but the market dried up and he got this job driving a truck for the oil company.  He told us that a lot of the ranches around here have oil wells (yes, we had noticed that!) and that many ranchers are getting $1,000 a DAY from their oil income.  Wow.  No wonder the ranch houses and equipment look so nice.  Interesting that they are still RANCHING and not just sitting around enjoying their oil income.  He said, “Yeah, they are drilling more oil wells every day.  There’s a lot of oil here.”

He kindly dropped us off at the road to the campground, and soon we were back on the CDT!  Hooray!  It was a lovely, warm late afternoon by then, with big puffy clouds in the sky, green meadows filled with wildflowers, happy little creeks, some lakes and a very nice trail to follow.  (Only a very few blowdowns to negotiate).  Then we met our first CDT SOBO–he told us he had skipped Wyoming, in order to go through Colorado in the summer.  He plans to go back later and finish up.

We ended up camping by Fishook Lake, after doing 5 1/2 miles, which isn’t much, but we didn’t start till way late.  We are really grateful to the Lord for helping us with rides today!  All the CDT hikers dislike the hitch out of Steamboat Springs, but it all worked out fine for us!

Thursday, July 7 Into STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

SUMMARY:  We had a very varied roadwalk this morning after we packed up and left the hay barn. (We asked God’s blessing on the Russells for letting us stay there!) We watched a cattle roundup and talked to workmen repairing a railing by the road—it was installed 1 1/2 years ago and has already been smashed 3 times!

Hitching into Steamboat Springs was easy—they were stopping traffic on Hwy 40 because of roadwork. We just walked along the line of cars! Steamboat is a very lively place—we are almost done now with town chores and glad of the rest (for 24 hours anyway).

DETAILS:  I was very glad to have an ant-free, nice dry place to stay in the Russell’s haybarn, but was a bit concerned about whether I’d find myself sneezing this morning from hayfever allergies.  No problem–just one or two little sniffles.  The mosquitoes hung around all night last night and were still waiting for us this morning, so we wasted no time in packing up and putting back the pallets we’d borrowed in order to set up the tent last night.  Then we asked God’s blessing on the Russells for their hospitality, and headed off along Hwy 14, to rejoin the CDT.

Awhile later we found a ranch driveway where we could stop and eat breakfast, leaning comfortably on the highway railing, but well out of the way.  While we were chewing on our very last bit of granola, the ranch folks headed out with two big trailers full of horses all saddled and bridled and ready to go…somewhere.  We exchanged waves with them.  The horses around here (we have seen a lot of them so far!) are beautiful, and it looks like a classic Colorado scene: green pasture with horses and in the background, the snowy mountain peaks.

At midmorning Snickers break time, we reached a place where the highway was closed down to one lane, because there was a whole crew there repairing the railing.  We stopped to eat our snack, and I went over to talk to one of the guys and to look carefully at how the railing was constructed.  Usually we’re driving in a car and there’s no chance to really look at details like that.  The guy told me that the reason for the railings on this stretch of road is that there’s quite an embankment on both sides, and it’s curved–the result was many cars (which were speeding) literally flying off the edge and plunging down into the little valley below.  Finally the state highway department decided, “Enough of this!” and had a railing constructed.  The result?  No more cars flying over the edge.  Instead, they slam into the new guard rail, careen across to the other side and slam into that guard rail, etc.  In the last 1 1/2 years since the railing was put up, they’ve had to do serious repair work on it 3 times.  And now they are having to repair it yet again.

A few miles farther, we had the fun of watching a sort of mini-roundup, involving 3 cowboys, a dog, and some black Angus cattle.  The cows made a brief attempt at getting away, but finally they were rounded up and herded off, mooing in…resignation?   We walked on, swatting at mosquitoes, which were pretty bad, but at around 10:30, the wind started to blow, and that took care of them.  However, we had a new concern–more and more signs along Hwy. 14 warned us of extensive highway work ahead on Hwy 40, going into Steamboat Springs.  We wondered how that might affect us.  We were very glad when we reached the junction where the CDT joined up with Hwy 14–yay, we were back on “trail”, but our water supplies were just about gone when we reached Hwy. 40, and it was so warm by then that we were awfully thirsty.  As we approached the junction, I saw a truck with a horse trailer just sitting there.  I am not one bit ashamed to beg for water, so I RAN to it (good thing I did–they were just starting to pull away when I got there) and asked if they had any water to spare.  Yes, they did, and even gave me some cold Gatorade, too!

So we sat in a little bit of shade and ate the last of our food and drank the Gatorade before beginning the walk up Hwy 40 towards Steamboat Springs.  Our plan was to follow the highway until the CDT left it and headed back into the mountains.  At that point, we would hitch into town.   As we walked along, a couple of bike riders caught up with us–a father and his young daughter.  Since there was quite a hill, they got off their bikes and walked with us to talk, which was really fun.  Finally we got to where the cars were being stopped by a flag lady; she saw us and gave us a very cheerful lecture on “how to WALK through a roadwork zone.”  The essence of it was, “Stay WAY out of the way of the guys who are working.”  We went on through with no problems, reached the CDT turnoff, and followed it to a campground.

At that point we said, “OK, time to hitch!”  and started walking leisurely along the campground road back toward Hwy 40.  We got our first ride from an older couple who were out looking at wildflowers (yes, there sure were a lot of those!)  They dropped us off at the highway, and we found a long line of cars there, waiting for another flag lady to signal them on through.  So at that point, we just walked along the line asking for a ride into town, until we ended up with another really nice couple who actually LIVE in their trailer (which they were towing).  It turns out that they spend their winters working at Zion National Park, then spend their summers travelling.  They were very happy to meet us and hear some trail tales as we rode down into Steamboat Springs.

Down in town, we got a room at Rabbit Ears Motel and tackled the usual chores: 1) Shower!!  2) Food!! (which I got from the Natural Grocery, right across the street–really great stuff we have not had in months)  3) Get the resupply box!!  4)  More food!! (at a pub which was having a halfprice special on their hamburgers!) and 5) Sleep!!

Wednesday, July 6 Back to Where we Started From

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

SUMMARY:  There was a lot of wind last night, oh joy! It dried all our wet stuff! So we were very happy hikers as we headed off along the trail, but very quickly I grew worried. The trail was headed in the wrong direction. It didn’t match my map.

Then I was shocked to see a road down below.  This should not be!   It was a paved road.  I could not see any paved roads on our route for this morning.  Then in absolute horror, we realized the truth: Somehow we had chosen the wrong ridge again (different, but still wrong) and made a huge loop and had returned to Willow Pass and Hwy 125. We were very sad and upset, and it was all my fault, because I had been careless about checking map AND compass, and so selfishly stubborn about insisting I was right.

So after some very grievous discussion, we decided it was back to roadwalking—first to the little town of Rand, then a shortcut over to Hwy 14, which will return us to the CDT. We tried to camp along the road, but everything was swarming with aggressive, biting ants. So we went to nearby Russell Ranch, and they let us camp in their hay barn.

DETAILS:  The wind blew (often quite hard) all last night, and by morning, all our stuff that had gotten wet in the rain up on Parkview Mountain was dry!  What a joy to get up to dry shoes, dry socks, and even a dry tent!  We happily set off along the trail, thinking that our troubles were over.  Even the many blowdowns we had to climb over didn’t dim our enthusiasm!

But as we went along, I gradually became more and more uneasy.  From what I could tell, looking at the map, we were headed the wrong direction.  I kept checking the compass and wondering again, “Is my compass crazy?”  Then down below, I spotted a paved road.  Impossible!  According to the map, there should be no paved road anywhere around here.  The nearest one was Hwy 125, but it was on the other side of the mountain.  Finally I was so worried that I stopped and said to Fixit, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t figure out where we are.  I think you’d better check Guthook.”  Fixit said “Sure” and he had a look.  “Well, Guthook says we are right on the CDT” he said.  So even though I was still uneasy, I felt more hopeful, and we kept on going, switchbacking down, down to the road, and when we stepped out of the forest onto the road shoulder, we discovered that….. we were back at Willow Pass.  We had just done a gigantic circle and were back at where we started yesterday morning.

To say we were both in despair would be an understatement.  The thought of climbing all the way back up the mountain and trying again was just beyond what I could face doing.  And Fixit was once again furious and disgusted with me.  This was all my fault.  I would not listen to him when he tried to be careful up on the top of the mountain, and I would not wait for him.  He was absolutely right.  All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and be miserable.

But I dared not indulge in a pityparty for long.  We had so little food left.  I finally said to Fixit, “If we roadwalk to Rand, we can get some food, and then we can shortcut from there over to Hwy 14, which is part of the CDT.  Then we’ll be back on the CDT, and we can follow it till it’s time to hitch in to Steamboat Springs.”

Fixit was miserable, too, but he agreed, and we set off along Hwy 125.  By 11:15, we had reached Rand, which turned out to be a tiny place with a gift shop and a small post office.  It didn’t have a restaurant or a grocery store, but the gift shop did sell drinks and snacks. The gift shop owner turned out to be supernice.  Turns out that he helps maintain the little lookout house up on top of Parkview Mountain, and he was very encouraging and helpful. So I bought a bunch of snacks to see us through, and the owner told me how to find County Road 28, which would shortcut us over to Hwy 14 and the CDT.  We also loaded up on water from the hiker/biker water cache that is kept under the gift shop sign by the road.

So we spent the rest of the day roadwalking, first along Hwy 125, then turning off onto gravel Road 28.  All along the way we were passing lovely ranches, with deep green grass, many lakes and ponds and very contented-looking cattle.  Pretty much every ranch had at least one “grasshopper” oil well.  We’ve heard that the ranchers used to barely make a living, but now, with additional income from oil, they are doing very well.  Sure looks like it!  I am very glad for them.

But we were constantly walking against wind that was so strong it made us tired just trying to constantly push against it.  That was hard. But we kept plugging away, determined to get as many miles as we could to make up for so much lost time.  At 7:00, we were seriously looking for somewhere to camp, but the road was constantly lined with barbed wire and “no trespassing” signs.  Finally we spotted a place off the road that was NOT posted, and gladly started to set up our tent (we dared not cowboy camp; the clouds were gathering).  But horrors, it turned out that the nice soft flat place was SWARMING with fierce ants!  Hundreds of them rushed onto our packs and gear, and climbed up our legs and began to BITE!  Ow, they hurt!   And they were everywhere!  All we could do was scramble to yank up the tent (we lost one of our tent stakes in the process),  and hurry back to the road, brushing biting ants off our gear and ourselves and considering what to do.

I remembered that back down the road a little way, we had passed a ranch.  Maybe they would let us camp someplace outside.  Hopefully there would be no ants.  So back we went, to the Russell Ranch, and walked carefully down the driveway.  The ranch dogs had barked at us very fiercely when we walked by before, and we were wary.  But we managed to make it to the front door without being eaten, and explained our predicament.  Mr. Russell said he’d noticed us walking by earlier, and very kindly gave us permission to stay in the hay barn.  We were very grateful!   At first we thought we’d just cowboy camp on the loose bits of hay that were lying on the ground, but oh bother, there were a LOT of mosquitoes;  too many to dare go without the tent.  But the floor of the barn was rockhard clay.  How could we put in the tent stakes?  Well, we ended up finding some wooden pallets, and tied the tent guy lines to the pallets.  It worked OK.  Whew!

We crawled into our sleeping bags as the sunset lit up the sky, and I think we can make it into Steamboat Springs tomorrow, if we really try hard.  And I vowed to myself, “ALWAYS check the compass!  ALWAYS!”  I do not ever again want to go through what we’ve gone through.  We have lost a whole day of hiking, plus what we’d already lost.  We could have been at Steamboat Springs already if we had not messed up so much.  Well, to be more accurate, if I had not messed up so much.  But we are blessed to have a safe and good place to camp, and enough to eat, and good water to drink.

Tuesday, July 5 Don’t Miss the Turn!

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

SUMMARY:  We were climbing all morning, from 9,200 up to 12,800 ft! At first, the trail was very muddy and rutted from motorcycles, but after we crossed Hwy 125 at Willow Pass, it was more like regular trail, up and down (mostly up!) into alpine regions.

The wind was fierce and bitter cold, plus there were some snowfields to negotiate. We made it to the little Lookout House on the very top of Parkview Mountain. There we made a serious wrong turn, and followed the wrong trail markers down the wrong ridge, all the way back to forest. Then the trail disappeared, and we finally realized “Oh no! Wrong ridge!”

We had to climb all the way back to the top (groan) and this time did not miss the turn, found CDT signs and began to follow them, but with 2 1/2 hours wasted. Finally made it down off the mountain, across Troublesome Pass, and we’re camped on Poison Ridge.

DETAILS:  I don’t think that either Fixit or I got much rest last night.  Like I said, there was no truly flat ground, and the best we could find left us trying all night not to slide down to the foot of the tent and trying not to roll onto each other.  But we cheered ourselves as we packed up, with talk of the “big views” up on Parkview Mountain, which lies not far ahead.

But first we had to get to Willow Pass and Hwy 125.  The trail was very muddy and torn up/rutted by motorcycles, and was such a mess that most of the time we had to walk NEXT to it rather than on it.  Up and up we climbed, then along a very rough knife-edge ridge with awesome rock formations.  Unfortunately, there were also a lot of blowdowns to negotiate, but we finally made it down to Hwy 125.  There we hesitated momentarily.  Since we’ve lost so much time hunting for trail and losing the trail, we had discussed that maybe we should bail out at 125 and roadwalk to Steamboat Springs.  As usual, we are way low on food as a result of so much lost time.  But Fixit was determined to “go for it”, and there was the lure of getting to the top of Parkview Mountain.  Despite that lure, I was still uneasy and as we crossed the highway and headed up the trail, I was praying, “Lord, help!  All I can do is commit this hike to You; please, please guide us.”

We climbed steadily up till we cleared the forest and were in alpine country, snow and all.  Sometimes snowfields blocked the way and we had to figure out how to get around them.  The wind was fierce, and bitter cold, and there were very dark clouds on both sides of us, dumping rain and rumbling with thunder.  But where we were, it was just wind.  I grew concerned when I looked at the maps.  Things were just not quite lining up the way it seemed like they should.  But I figured, “Whatever, we’ll just keep going,” so we kept heading for the top, and at lunchtime, we found (hooray!!) a small HOLE in the mountainside that we could climb down into and hunker out of the wind to eat.  It was a very welcome respite!

But it was time to go on, so with rain starting to blow in, and the wind still fiercely cold, we found and followed a thin trail as it switchbacked up to the top, where there was a very cute “lookout house”, complete with a very fat marmot who scurried away when we approached.  We looked inside–it certainly would be possible to camp there, if needed, but it was way too early.

And that is where we made a very serious mistake.  Standing by the little house, we saw well-used trail with posts heading down the mountain, straight ahead, from where we were.  Thinking that those posts were there to mark the CDT, we happily followed them.  But if we had looked at our COMPASS, we would have realized that we were going the wrong way.  From the top of Parkview Mountain, there are 3 main ridges running down, and without knowing it, we were on the wrong ridge.

Down, down, down we went, all the way back to treeline.  And there the posts disappeared.  No problem, we thought.  From what we could see on the map, the trail should switchback down from this point, to get past a very steep place.  Well, there certainly was a steep place, but no sign of a trail.  We hunted and searched everywhere (being very careful to stay within view of each other!!) and could find absolutely nothing.  And a look at farther landmarks finally led us to conclude that we must have come down the wrong ridge.  I have no idea what all those nice posts were about.

So with deep discouragement, we turned and climbed all the way back up to the top.  At close to 13,000 feet, this was definitely not fun.  But finally we were back at the lookout house.  Fixit sat down and said, “We have GOT to get this right.”  He began trying to work with Guthook.  I stood looking at the ridges and the landmarks and the maps and trying to figure it out, too.  Based on what I was seeing, I decided which ridge was the RIGHT way down.  And looking very carefully, I could see it had POSTS on it!  Yee-hah!  The CDT!  But Fixit was still not convinced.  He did not move, and continued to sit and try to make sense out of Guthook.

What neither of us realized at the time was that had we simply taken out our COMPASS and looked at it, we would have instantly known which ridge was the right one.  But I was bullheadedly convinced that I was right, that this second ridge was the CDT.  I did take a quick look at the compass and was puzzled as to why it didn’t say the same as the map was showing me.  But the compass had been acting quirky lately and I thought, “Bother the compass!  It’s acting up again!” and ignored it.  NOT GOOD!  So I stubbornly and foolishly said, “I am SURE this is the CDT!  Look at those posts down there!” and headed out.  Fixit is way faster at hiking than I am, and I figured he would easily catch up, especially because on a rough, rocky downhill like this one was, I am slow.   And as I went down, and saw a CDT emblem on the first post, I was thrilled!  Fixit was not one bit thrilled, though.  He was furious.  He did catch up with me and let me know in no uncertain terms that I was being horribly rude and inconsiderate.  And he was right.

But there were the CDT posts!  And they clearly led the way down the mountain, switchbacking down, just as it looked on the map.  So despite the fact that Fixit was still very justifiably furious, we figured we were back on track.  After a lot of switchbacks and finding a way around a very large snowfield, we were back in the trees and back with the mosquitoes–lots of them!  We kept following the CDT trail, emblems and all.  But what we did not know was that somehow this morning, when I had noticed that our route and the map were not quite jiving together, that’s right, they WEREN’T.  Whatever route it was that got us to the top, it was NOT the CDT.  And now, without realizing it, we were on the CDT all right, but it was the trail we should have been on this morning.  We were actually headed BACK to Hwy 125.  But because we kept seeing CDT emblems, we thought we were fine.

Again, a look at the compass would have told us we were WAY wrong.  We came to what we thought was Troublesome Pass, and finally camped for the night on what we thought was Poison Ridge.  It was nice and flat.  The thunder was rumbling and rain starting to splat as we set up our tent and completely collapsed.  We were exhausted.  And very sad.  Now we were way, way behind, and contemplating running out of food.  And I was very much ashamed of being so rude to Fixit.  My prayer for tonight was along the lines of “Lord, I am SO sorry…I have so messed up today.”

Monday, July 4 Back to Hide ‘n Seek Trail

Monday, July 4th, 2016

SUMMARY: Maps are wonderful—they have everything all laid out to see. How can you lose? Well, when the trail decides to play hide ‘n seek! We started off OK with the climb over Bowen Pass, and had no trouble negotiating the snow cornice at the top, but the rest of the day was one frustration after another.

First, the trail disappeared in a meadow—no cairns, no posts, no nothing to mark the route. We finally found it, then it followed an old road that kept disappearing, along with the trail. Finally we just bushwhacked straight up a mountain to reconnect with the trail. Alas, then we missed a key turn (it went into a meadow, but we kept following what we thought was the trail, way down a mountain).

Finally, we realized our mistake, climbed back up, looked and looked for the CDT, and finally found it. Grand total CDT miles today: 11. We needed 18.  I figure we lost more than half a day with all this “playing hide ‘n seek trail.”

DETAILS:  No 4th of July firecrackers going off to wake us up today…and no pancake breakfast, either.  Oh well!  Happy Birthday, USA!   We saddled up and headed for Bowen Pass…but first we had to get by Bowen Mountain, which was very tall and blocked the morning sun, so we had no nice “sunpatch” to eat breakfast in.  Brrrrr!  The trail of course was climbing steadily up, and it was muddy, rocky and rooty.  That’s OK–I would rather deal with mud than with icy snow.  Finally we were high enough to leave the forest behind, and wow!  Gorgeous alpine country!  Wish we had more of this and less walking in the woods!

But the beautiful views also included the fact that there was a big snow cornice at the top of Bowen Pass.  Hmmm.  We stopped and looked at it–the conclusion was, “Looks do-able.”  We switchbacked up the face of the Pass, and when we reached the cornice, the trail of course disappeared under the snow.  No problem–we sort of sidled along sideways, just below the cornice, till we found a spot where we could safely climb over it.  Up top, the view was awesome!

Then it was down, down the other side, until the trail disappeared (sigh) into a big mountainside meadow.  There were no rock cairns, no posts, no nothing to show where to go.  After much searching, we finally found the trail again on the other side of the meadow area.  At that point, it began to follow what looked like an old road, but very rocky and overgrown.  You’d think that an old road would be easy to follow, but not this one–it kept disappearing, and so did any indication of trail.  We hunted endlessly for some indication of where to go.  Finally Fixit said, “Forget this trying to find the trail HERE.  Let’s just bushwhack to where we know we will at least cross the trail.”

The bushwhack involved going straight up a very steep mountainside, through the forest (with all the usual blowdowns to deal with).  Sometimes it was so steep that I had to use my hands to help in the climb.  But to our great delight, up top, we found TRAIL!  This we followed for awhile, enjoying the fact that we had trail to walk on, but then…without realizing it, we missed a crucial turn.  We were on what was obviously well-used trail, heading straight ahead, but the CDT made a right turn into a meadow.  There was no signpost at the turn, no cairns, no nothing to let us know we should go there.  So we just kept walking obliviously along.

The trail we were on (not the CDT, but we didn’t know it) led us down, way down the mountain, then it too disappeared.  I sat down with the maps, and Fixit with Guthook, to make a plan.  I figured it out–“Oh no!  This is not the CDT!   This is the Bill Creek Trail!”  Fixit confirmed that with Guthook.  It was very depressing to have to climb all the way back up that mountain, and then we had to find the CDT.  We looked and looked.  I was studying the maps very closely, and started to think…”Maybe on the other side of that meadow?”  I walked over to have a look, and hooray!   There was the trail!

We were very tired at this point–we’d spent so much time and energy trailhunting.  But knowing we were back on track–at least for now–was really encouraging.  The CDT at this point headed steeply down a canyon, and at 7 pm, the only flattish spot we could find was right by the trail itself.  We were setting up camp when one of the other CDT thruhikers came by, and asked if we’d seen Buttercup (one of the guys who was with Allgood).  No, we hadn’t.  Hope they find each other!

I figured out our miles for today and found we only did 11 CDT miles for all this time and work.  If only we’d been able to just hike along a trail–we would have gotten WAY more miles done!   I figure we must have lost more than half a day just playing “hide ‘n seek trail.”  But the one bonus today:  we got to see more moose!

Sunday July 3 Off to a Good Start

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

SUMMARY: Despite the very loud nearby party last night, we had no trouble sleeping. Hiking is great for that! This morning, we packed up everything (tent and groundcloth wet, yuck) and made tracks back to The Fat Cat for another round of awesome buffet. Then we went over to the Presbyterian church and it wasn’t long before the pastor and music people showed up. So we got to hang out while they got ready.

It was beyond wonderful to join in the service and yes! It was communion Sunday. We had fun afterwards talking to people, then a quick early lunch and back to the CDT! Lots of people were out hiking, even though the trail is wet and muddy from all the rain. We made good miles today—we’re off to a fine start on making it to Steamboat Springs.

DETAILS: There was quite a party going on in one of the houses behind the motel last night, but Fixit and I both fell asleep anyway, and have no idea when they finally finished celebrating!  But out of habit, we woke up at 5:00 am, and by 6:00 we were both so hungry that we got up.  Because it was raining last night, we’d set up the tent in “rain mode”, meaning all closed up, so when we sat up to get dressed, yuck!  The condensation inside was pretty bad.  We tried to wipe off the inside of the tent as best we could before we packed it up.  The groundcloth was also soaking wet from all the rain…double yuck.  Oh well!

Then we took our very hungry selves back to The Fat Cat and had another go at the buffet.  Yum!  My final round of food this morning was a plateful of strawberry shortcake with lots of berries and whipped cream!  By the time we were done eating, it was 8:30.   Fixit and I discussed what to do next.  We could just head back onto the trail….but it was Sunday, and there were churches, and we hated to pass up an opportunity like that.  So we took our packs and walked over to the Trinity Presbyterian Church and hung around outside for only a few minutes, when the pastor and the “music crew” showed up.  They gave us a warm welcome and we went in with them–while they got set up and did a bit of practicing, Fixit read the Bible and I read from their hymnal.  I love hymnals–the words are so awesome.

It was also fun to listen to the music crew.  Besides running through the music for church that day (the pastor plays saxophone!), they were having lively discussions about the presidential primary elections. ( All of us CDT hikers are very glad we are able to avoid all that out on the trail!)  People began to arrive, and the service started.  I really enjoyed it.  Sometimes I feel like the CDT does everything it can to beat us up (the other hikers all feel the same!) but that church service made me feel encouraged and strengthened for whatever lies ahead of us on the trail.  And best of all, it was a communion Sunday, too!

After church we had fun talking to some very interesting people.  One was a retired forest ranger who knows the CDT very well, and the other was a young couple who want to do the CDT someday.  They told us that the CDT coming in to Grand Lake is full of blowdowns and it’s tough going.  So we are glad we didn’t try to go that way.  After that, we headed out to find some lunch, and wow!  The lake was full of sunshine and boats, and there were people everywhere.

Back to the trail we went, and at first it was really nice.  The first leg was a hike up to Big Meadow–very pretty!  The next leg was to hike over a hill, then down to a trailhead parking area.  We met a LOT of people out hiking, even though the trail was very muddy from all the rain recently.  We’d just caught up with a whole group of folks, when along came a ranger on a horse, going the other way.  He was very bossy, and stopped the horse to order, “All of you! Get off the trail! ….No, not like that–all of you get off onto the same side!”  We scrambled around trying to find places we could get to.  He finally rode by with his nose in the air.  Not a nice ranger at all.  I’m glad not ALL rangers act that way (though unfortunately there are quite a few who do).

Fixit and I decided to stop and dry out our wet gear, but just as we took off our packs and started to get things out–oh no!  It started to RAIN again!  So we gave up on that idea, and put our raingear back on.  Sigh.  Finally we got down to the road and could not figure out where to go.  There were various trails, it was still raining, and the whole thing was hard to “read” from our Bear map.  We made a best guess as to where we were, and headed left, hoping to pick up the trail a little way down the road.  Instead, we found ourselves wandering into a ranger housing area, where a very kind ranger lady intercepted us, got out HER map (much more detailed) and got us on track.  Whew!

So back we went (turned out we should have stayed on the trail longer and not gotten distracted by what looked like the trailhead parking area) just in time to meet four CDT thruhikers, including Allgood!  He is the one who left the note just before the river crossing on the Creede cutoff route–the note that directed us to a fallen tree downstream that made a fine, safe place to get to the other side.  I thanked him very fervently for taking all the time and trouble to hike back and leave a note for the rest of us.  Turned out that he and his friends were planning to hitch back to Grand Lake and spend 4th of July there.  They had already lined up to stay at the hostel, so they won’t be camping out by a dumpster somewhere!  It was so good to meet them, and best of all, being able to THANK Allgood!

Fixit and I found the CDT again and headed out.  The trail of course went UP–but it was a nice up!  No killer climbs.  No rocky trail.  So despite not even starting till around 1:00, I think we got at least 13 miles in before we stopped early at 6:30.  That’s a good start; the only bummer is the rain, or to be more specific, the “rain-sun-rain-sun”.  It rains, so we put on raingear.  Then the sun comes out, and the raingear makes us hot.  So we take it off.  Then it rains again….you get the picture.  Tedious!   The rain makes all the plants wet, so we are constantly going through a “hiker carwash” as we push through wet plants along the trail.  We did get to see a mama moose and her baby, though!  We were careful not to get too close.

The reason we stopped a bit early was that the rain had stopped, and we wanted to give our stuff a chance to dry a bit.  So I stood there “flapping” our groundcloth till it was dry, then we laid it down, and set up the tent.  We let that dry a bit too, before we put our stuff in and crept in ourselves.  Our campsite is on the only bit of flat ground we could find, and it is right by the creek.  We don’t like to camp near water if we can help it–we’d rather stealth camp–but this was our only choice available.   Hope we get nice weather tomorrow!


Saturday, July 2 Making it in to GRAND LAKE

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

SUMMARY:  We walked for over 2 hours this morning—6:00-8:30am– to reach Grand Lake. We were tired and famished—wow, no problem! There is a restaurant called ‘The Fat Cat’ with an all-u-can-eat breakfast buffet. Well-fed, we headed for Shadowcliff Hostel to get our box and a place to stay.

Shadowcliff is beyond awesome, but for tonight they had only 2 spots left—in the men’s dorm. OK for Bill, but not for me. So we sadly left and made like Mary & Joseph looking for somewhere to stay. Every place was either full or way beyond our price range. Finally the ‘cheapest’ motel offered to let us camp out back by the dumpster. OK! We went for it.

It rained off and on all day. We were able to take showers, but not wash clothes. All we really wanted to do was lie down and rest, and we did.

DETAILS:   It rained off and on last night, but we were snug in our tent out among the weeds in the boat yard.  But this morning–ugh!  We had lots of condensation to deal with.  Before we headed down the road, we left a thank you note and some $$ at the trailer park manager’s house.  It was 6:00 am when we started walking, and I was thinking “Breakfast!”  But though there were many houses, marinas and campgrounds along the road as it followed the lake shore, there was not a single place where we could even stop and get coffee.  Sigh.  We were absolutely famished.  But the views of Grand Lake were great!  Wow, that is a pretty lake!

Finally we reached the turnoff that went to the town of Grand Lake, which was our destination.  We walked and walked some more–still nothing was open.  Finally we got to the main street, and as we walked along with our stomachs growling, we did notice that every motel we passed had a “Vacancy” sign.  “Hah!” we thought.  “So much for the people who said we’d never find a place to stay on 4th of July weekend!”  But we didn’t stop–our mission was “Find breakfast!”  and besides that, we planned to stay at the hostel. And hooray–there finally was a restaurant open:  The Fat Cat, with an all-u-can-eat breakfast buffet!  We left our packs by the fireplace and proceeded to EAT!  The owners have a British background, so in addition to the usual American breakfast stuff, they also had Scotch eggs, bread pudding and other goodies.  The Brit-style scones were clearly labelled, “These are for butter & jam!  No gravy, please!”

When we were done eating, to our amazement, the owner lady came to us with a ziplok bag and said, “You guys are CDT hikers, and I know you are always hungry.  Here, fill this up with whatever you want, and take it with you for later.”  Wow!   We filled that bag with pastries and other yummy stuff.

Then we headed up the hill to the Shadowcliff Hostel to get our resupply box and a place to stay.  The views from the hostel deck are beyond amazing.  And yes, our box was there, and we happily signed the CDT trail register….but then the manager sadly told us that they only have two spots left for tonight–in the MEN’s dorm.  Well, that would be fine for Fixit, but not for me.  Sigh.  So we used the hostel dining room table to spread out our food and sort it into our food bags for the next leg of the CDT, then we went back down the hill and started making like Mary and Joseph, looking for a place to stay.  We are just too tired to go back to the trail yet.

But that’s when we discovered that even though all the motels had vacancies, their price for a night’s stay was beyond outrageous–way beyond our budget.  Finally, at the far end of town, the last hope, was the Sunset Motel.  Even their rate was ridiculous, but they did agree to let us camp out in back for $25.  We could take a shower in the “shower building” next door, and  there was a public bathroom across the street from the motel.

So we said, “OK” and found a spot by the dumpster out back.  Then the clouds blew back a bit and the sun came out–hooray!  We took our damp stuff, including the tent, and laid it out on top of the dumpster to dry.  As soon as the tent was dry (which didn’t take long) we set it up–just in the nick of time, because the clouds closed back up and the rain began again.  We laid our very tired selves down inside the nice dry tent and just collapsed for awhile.  I finally revived enough to start studying the maps of the trail to Steamboat Springs.

Finally the sun came out again and I decided to be very brave and go take a shower.  The reason I had to be brave was that all I have for a “towel” is my bandana, so I’m not really “dry” when I get dressed again, and my hair is very wet–so if it’s a cloudy, chilly day, I soon would find myself very cold.  But the sun looked like it might stay for at least an hour, maybe, so I went for it.  It felt so good to be clean!

Once my hair was sufficiently dry, I walked down the street to the grocery store to get something for lunch.  I picked out all the things we really miss having on the trail, so it was a very odd collection of food–various fruits, avocado, cucumbers and V-8 juice. There was a picnic table behind the motel, so we sat there and happily ate everything, including the entire ziplok full of goodies from The Fat Cat.  Just as we finished eating, back came the rain, and we dashed for the tent again.  This time, I looked over our food and wrote a shopping list of what to buy for the next leg of the trail.  Once the rain subsided to a mere drip, I headed back to the grocery store, and managed to find everything except a very important item–candy bars!  I looked everywhere and could not find any.  Finally I asked the store clerk, and it turned out that the candy bars are all kept securely away from the public, behind the counter.  The clerk said that so many people STEAL the candy bars that they were losing way too much money.  Now all candy is kept in “protective custody.”  So I had to TELL her what I wanted, and she got them out.  Sad.

Back at the tent, I carefully repaired our rather battered food bags with tape, and loaded them up with over 4 1/2 days of food, which should be more than enough to get us to Steamboat Springs.  We’ll need to do at least 18 miles per day (pathetic by our PCT standards).  Then I lay down to just rest.  I am still so tired.  Finally at the end of the day, Fixit and I went hunting for some dinner and ended up at a Mexican restaurant, having “Giant Burritos.”  The people at the table next to us were amazed to see that we finished them.  Then we went for a walk to see the Grand Lake “beach” (stopping off for an ice cream cone along the way).  Grand Lake is the largest natural lake in Colorado, and it really is beautiful.  Not too many people out, though–it was cloudy and cold and windy.

I went back to the tent and crawled into my sleeping bag, while Fixit went on one last walk in search of wi-fi–he is still trying to sort out what happened with the new watch he ordered.  I’m not sure how much sleep we will get tonight–there’s a loud party going on the the house right behind the motel, and from what we can see, there are parties going on all over town.  The place is packed for the 4th of July weekend.  But tomorrow, we’ll be back on the trail!


Friday, July 1 An All-Day Roadwalk

Friday, July 1st, 2016

SUMMARY:  This is the longest roadwalk we have ever done—probably a bit over 30 miles, from Winter Park almost to Grand Lake. We could not even see the Divide–it was swathed in clouds and mist. A ranger we met later on told us that it even snowed up there. And we knew how important it is on the CDT to be able to see—landmarks in the distance, rock cairns (to show the way when there is no trail) and what about when a big snowfield buries the trail and you are trying to find it? Virtually impossible if you are in a cloud.

Part of the time we were able to follow a nice hike / bike path and get away from the cars rushing by at 65mph. We stopped to eat in several places (trying to make up the calorie deficit)  and had several offers of rides. Even though it was a roadwalk, the scenery was wonderful and all the little towns quite picturesque.

It began to rain again when we reached Lake Granby. All the camping / lodging places were full because of the 4th of July weekend—we ended up in a rundown trailer / RV park. We are camped in the “boat trailer storage” area. In the rain!

DETAILS:  Thanks to the wonderful heater at the Sundowner Motel in Winter Park, all of our wet stuff was nice and dry by this morning.  And we got nice and warm, too–we really were chilled to the core by the time we got here yesterday, and only now am I feeling warm again.  It rained off and on during the night, and this morning when we got up to walk over to McD’s, everything outside (street, plants, etc) was soaking, dripping wet.

The McD’s cashier was amazed when we ordered TWO big breakfast platters, WITH pancakes.  “Wow, you must be hungry!” she said. No kidding.  We ate every scrap of them, then went back to the motel to get our packs and head out.  Turned out that we weren’t the only ones getting ready to leave–a group of motorcyclists were about to “saddle up” as well.  Then I noticed one of the guys had a CMA (Christian Motorcyclists Association) patch on his jacket, so of course we had to stop and talk to him!  It was great–we left with his blessing, and he with ours!

The Divide was totally swathed in clouds.  Fixit and I kept looking up at it as we walked along the road, and talked about how glad we were NOT to be up there, trying to locate the trail in those conditions.  How could we see distant rock cairns and landmarks?  A map and compass would be useless, and our Guthook app is mostly useless too.  We are bummed about missing what we hear is spectacular scenery on that stretch of the CDT, but we wouldn’t be able to see the scenery, either.

When we reached the tiny village of Fraser, we were very happy to find that there was a bike path to follow.  What a relief to get away from the highway, with cars whipping past us at 60/70 mph!  And it also meant that we could walk steadily along without having to step off the road shoulder every time a car came by.  But the path disappeared for awhile near the village of Tabernacle where we saw a weird but interesting logging operation which included a tall, skinny log building with a crane on it.  Hooray, the bike path reappeared, and we were able to follow it again for several miles.  It was fun looking at all the houses along the way–they all have what I call the “wood house” look, and it is amazing all the different designs that architects have come up with.

At one point the bike path (the official name was “Fraser-Granby Trail”) dropped down into a low swampy area where unfortunately the trail was not quite high enough, and we had no other option than to wade through the several inch deep water in our previously nice dry shoes & sox.  Oh well.  Finally it was back to roadwalking again.  At lunchtime we managed to get off the highway by getting into a ranch driveway entrance.  There were 3 horses in the pasture, and when they saw what we were doing (eating) they all came to the fence and were obviously begging, “Feed me!”  Alas, they did not know we value our calories (which we have been carrying on our backs!) so we gave them nothing.  Two of the horses finally gave up and left, but the third watched us the whole time we were there, with a very piteous look on its face.

Awhile later, we stopped for a second lunch at a Subway on the south end of Granby, across the highway from the big “Granby Ranch Resort.”  Good thing we did that–just after we’d sat down inside, it started to POUR rain, and just as we were leaving, the rain stopped.  Whew!  When we finally reached downtown Granby, we stopped for an ice cream, then cheered when we reached the Hwy 34 turnoff.  We thought we’d see less cars there (which would make it a lot easier, not having to constantly step out of their way), but alas, Hwy 34 turned out to be a very busy road, too.  It travelled along through a very green, very wet valley, with many horses, cows and…frogs.  The frogs were singing like crazy!  Then a nice ranger lady stopped to offer us a ride (we politely declined) and she told us that more heavy rain is on the way, plus gave us some ideas of where we might camp up ahead (though she did say since it was 4th of July weekend, a lot of campgrounds would be full).  She also commented, “Looks like it’s snowing up on the Divide.”  Fixit and I thought, “Yeah–there’s ANOTHER reason it’s good we didn’t try to go that way.”

We looked over at the Divide–still completely hidden by clouds that looked seriously black and nasty.  Not good.  We were getting pretty tired, but were determined to make as many miles as we could.  Hwy 34 wound up and down, and finally we saw what we’d been waiting to see–Grand Lake!  And what a lake!  It is huge.  There are houses all around it, and boats.  Then the rain began.  We kept walking.  We walked till we reached Grand Lake Lodge–with a “No Vacancy” sign already lit.  We thought about asking if we could camp out back, but decided to just keep going.

The rain stopped for awhile, and slowly the light grew dimmer.  It was starting to get late, and there was not a sign of a campground or any place to stay.  I was starting to think, “Maybe we should have camped at the Lodge”.  But then we spotted a rather ramshackle RV/trailer park.  It had a boat storage area with what were supposed to be some “tent sites” among the weeds.  There was no sign of an office or manager, but I knocked on the door of one of the trailers to ask if it would be OK to camp out by the boat trailers.  The lady who lived there said, “Sure!  Just leave ten bucks at the manager’s house” and she pointed out where it was.

Just as we were setting up our tent, it started to really rain–we scurried to get under cover, got into our sleeping bags and ate a late, cold dinner with the rain coming down.  The tent is holding up fine, so we were dry and comfortable.  We’re glad we have a place to camp, and tomorrow it will be breakfast in Grand Lake!