Rawlins

Rawlins (05_161)
Day 98 and 99 – 7/28/17 and 7/29/17
Miles – 18.5
Total miles – 1443.6

7/28/17
We woke a bit early this morning so we could get to town as soon as possible. It was a road walk all the way into town. We set out at a good pace. Bling and Mama Raven walked past where the trail cuts off from the road, so we decided to keep going on the road. The two meet up farther on. In a few miles, the dirt road turned to a paved road. Paved roads are harder on our feet. We had more than 10 miles on it. We were low in water so we stopped by a well to fill up. It’s water had an alkaline taste, so we only got a little bit. Even flavor crystals added to the water could not hide the odd flavor. We spent the next few hours hiking into town. We held a great pace, a solid 3 mph. We stopped by the McDonald’s for lunch and then went to the Days Inn for a room.
They are a number of hikers here who we have not seen in awhile, the best of all is our Auntie Raven (Catwater). The last time we saw her was at Ghost Ranch, 980 miles back. Burning Calves, Dassie, and AJ are also here. This was a happy reunion for those that started out April 21, at Crazy Cook Monument in New Mexico. Amazingly there were 10 hikers who started the day we did. 7 of the 10 are here in Rawlins right now, the 4 Ravens, Catwater, Burning Calves and Dassie.

7/29/17
We are taking a zero here today. Other then switching hotels because our first one could not do laundry. We spent the whole day sitting around resting and working on blogs and photographs. We are ready to hike out tomorrow. Catwater will be hiking with us. Burning Calves, Dassie, and AJ will also hike out tomorrow. It was good to have a day off. These next two sections will be long.

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Long, Tired Day

Little Sage Lake (04_351 R)
Day 97 – 7/27/17
Miles – 27.0
Total miles – 1425.1

We woke to very wet tents. The condensation was dropping off the inside and the outside of the tents. The sky was clear, so we knew that we would be able to dry them today. We did towel then down, so there would be less water when we packed them. Today held many miles of road walking for us. The land was flat, sagebrush and not much else. First goal of the day was a spring three miles from where we camped. The spring had a good flow and we quickly filled all our bottles. After leaving the spring, we soon came to a place where the road went from the mesa top to the valley below and its route formed the shape of a boot. Well we decided to cut across the top of the boot and headed down a valley on a very old overgrown road. It was not difficult and we knocked 2.5 miles off. Down on the valley floor, we hiked next to Muddy Creek for many miles. At our second crossing of Muddy Creek, we stopped for lunch and dry our gear. Several days ago, the Wyoming Fish and Game Department had put a fish poison into the creek to kill off all the non-native fish. They had put out lots of bottles of water for the hikers so they would not drink the water from the creek. We topped off our water containers. After lunch, we had a long seven mile climb to the top of Bridge Pass. All afternoon the clouds had been building. As we were hiking the road down from the pass, it finally started to rain, big fat drops with hail mixed in. It did not last long. We just covered the packs and waited with our umbrellas for it to stop. The day was getting long and we were tired but we wanted to get as close to town as possible so we sat in the road and cooked dinner. With Vodka Pasta in our bellies we headed on. The sun went behind the mountains, the clouds turned yellow, orange, and then pink. Coyotes howled in the distance. It was a beautiful evening. We found a place to camp just off the road near Sage Lake. Tomorrow is a town day and life is good out on the CDT in Wyoming.

Changing Land

On a ridge (1604.6 R)
Day 96 – 7/26/17
Miles – 23.1
Total miles – 1398.1

It rained for a long time last night. It rained so long and hard, that we began to worry about flooding under the tents. In the end, we fell into a deep sleep. Once the rain stopped, the trees dropped water on us the rest of the night and condensation could not be avoided under such wet conditions. By morning, the tent and all it’s contents, were wet.  We hoped there would be a little sun today to dry out in. The mornings sky was a mix of clouds and blue. Our instincts warned us we were in for more rain today. We packed and headed out. The trail started out in thick stands of pine then it would break out into open fields of grass, lupine, buckwheat, and small round cactus’s. We felt like we were hiking in Northern New Mexico again. The terrain was drastically different than Colorado. Our biggest problem came from the stands of thin pine trees. Almost everyone was littered with fallen trees. It was like walking through a life size version of pick up sticks. We were constantly climbing up, over, and under, or going around them. It was a very slow process. It felt good to get out into the open areas because we could walk and cover distance. In the late morning, we finally dropped down out of the hills to the flat lands below. This area was quite different from the hills above, we were in open grasslands, sage, and numerous flowering plants. The land was flat with small stream valleys. This will be our terrain for the next few days. We were excited by the change. It was something easy to hike after the relentless high altitude steep ups and down we faced daily in Colorado. A few weeks ago, when we stayed with Overeasy we had seen 6-7 Pronghorn Antelope near the road. Today, as we hiked the flat land, we finally saw Pronghorn Antelope. The first group had 15-20 in it. The other two groups we saw later in the day were much smaller. We could not get close to them before they would run off. Around lunch we sat and watched the beautiful, billowing clouds. We watched the cloud shadows coming and going over the open plains. We also realized, that these clouds we were admiring, were forming into thunderstorms all around us and would soon be raining on us. But for now, we were simply enjoying their beauty. Shortly after eating, the closest thunderstorm started blowing rain sideways on us. Immediately, out came the umbrellas to shield us from the driven rain. The good thing was that we were to the North of the storm and it did not rain long. The storms mainly moved up into the mountains where we were this morning and it pounded that area for the rest of the day. Instead, we were just on the out skirts of the thunder heads and we hiked away from the rain the more North we went. We found a place to camp for the night with an amazing view of this beautiful wide open country.

A Wet Day

Deep Jack Trailhead (02_124 R)
Day 95 – 7/25/17
Miles – 24.6
Total miles – 1375.0

It lightly sprinkled during the night. In the morning, when we looked out the door of the tent the sky was all gray clouds. Our spirits headed down ward, this did not look good. The last thing we wanted was a day of rain, especially a day of rain that lasts for hours. It just is not pleasant. Mama Ravens stomach was feeling good this morning but she still was very tired. She might not be nauseated anymore but food still does not appeal to her. She just wanted to sleep. We packed up and headed toward our first of two ups for today. It was not a long up but it was steep. We crested the top and started toward Hwy 70. The trail started up high on ridges and the tops of drainages. We had to cross several meadows. It is very difficult to keep our feet dry when walking through meadows with standing pools of water in them. The thick gray clouds got lower and lower until it started to sprinkle. Just a very light sprinkle. It was so light we did not think much about it. But after several hours we began to really get wet. Realizing this, we had our umbrellas out the remainder of the day. Just as we got to Hwy 70, we came upon a trail magic cache with sodas! We had Mountain Dews and a Dr Pepper. What an unexpected treat! Thank you whoever is responsible for this. After crossing Hwy 70, we started our second big up. Slowly we hiked up the mountain and into a cloud. The temperature dropped and we put on all our rain gear.  Our visibility dropped because of the thick cloud we were in. We could just see the trees near us. As the rain continued, we crossed the top of the mountain and started down the other side. The farther we got away from the summit, the more the clouds lifted. Soon we could see into the valleys on either side of us. Our path over Bridger Peak was on a dirt road. As we were descending, we came upon a truck parked off the road. The driver asked directions to the nearest main road. About a mile back, he blew out a tire. He put on his spare, then he blow out another tire. We helped out the best we could, showing him maps on our GPS system and finding a campground three to four miles away.  He said he will sleep in his truck tonight and then in the morning he will walk out. We continued on. As the sun was going down, we got to a trail head and found a flat place back in the trees. We hope the weather will be clear tomorrow.

Two Down, Three to Go

Near Dale Creek (1557.0)
Day 94 – 7/24/17
Miles – 22.0
Total miles – 1350.4

It was a cool, wet morning and no one wanted to get up. Mama Raven was feeling somewhat better but not 100%. Her stomach was not nearly as nauseated as yesterday. However, food was still something she did not want to consume. She said she could sleep for another few hours. A big fear of ours is whatever Mama Raven has, will spread throughout the Raven clan since we share our water bottles. Time will tell. Because we were camped on the edge of a meadow, condensation was a problem overnight. We packed our wet gear and started hiking next to a long meadow to one side of the valley. The trail then turned up a steep ATC track to the valley rim. Next, we hiked though a thin pine forest at the ridge top. The sky, which had small clouds when we woke this morning was growing more ominous, although it never amounted to anything. After several hours of hiking, we took a break and up walked Napoleon and Red Cross. They had camped a short distance from us. We sat there talking for a longer time than we should have, but it was relaxing and enjoyable to sit and talk to them. For days now, we have been getting closer to Catwater. When she got back on the trail, two months ago, she was about a week ahead. A few weeks ago,  she was four days ahead. As we neared Steamboat Springs, she was two days ahead. This morning we talked with two hikers, Load and Sawbuck, going south, and they told us that they had lunch with her, at the Wyoming border yesterday. That put her one day ahead. While taking with Napoleon, we remembered that Catwater has a food drop at Encampment, which we do not. She would have gone on today and if she heads back to the trail tomorrow, we will be very close to her. The road to Encampment is about 14 miles from here. By the time we reach Rawlins, we should see her. All Ravens look forward to seeing their Auntie Raven again! It is difficult to catchup with someone ahead of you, especially if you are hiking about the same speed.  It can take a long time. With great anticipation, we hiked ridge tops for the next four miles until we came to the Colorado/Wyoming boarder. We have finished two states and we have three more to go. Wyoming is the second shortest state at about 500 miles. We will move through it pretty fast. Two miles into Wyoming, we came to the first water source where we needed to fill up. The only problem was that it was just a trickle. It would be very difficult to get the ten to twelve liters we needed. The next on trail water was eight miles away. We were out of water at this point. Oh, to have a water faucet with perfectly clean water at our disposal! We do not! With our dilemma, we decided to take a road which kept us at a lower elevation and we would pass several places where there might be water. About half of the way along the road, we heard a stream flowing! We cut up into the trees and found a clear, cold stream. We filled every water container we had, including ourselves. When the road rejoined the trail, we headed up a series of climbs, working our way up a ridge. When we reached a saddle, we stopped for the night. It is a little earlier than we normally camp, but Mama Raven is exhausted. We have two good size climbs tomorrow then we drop, a lot. With the loss of miles due to Mama Raven not feeling well, we will be have problems reaching Rawlins. We are going to run low on food. However, we will make it work! We always do.

Not Feeling Well

Trail Creek (1535.0)
Day 93 – 7/23/17
Miles – 14.5
Total miles – 1328.4

It started in the middle of the night. Mama Raven got up saying that she was either starving or had an upset stomach, or perhaps both. Mama Raven ate a ding dong and some Pringle potato chips, and then she tried to go back to sleep. She could not and she said she felt even worst after eating. At some point she eventually did fall back asleep. In the morning, she was too tired to get up, and she did not want any thing for breakfast.  She said she was extremely nauseated. After a while, she ate a little breakfast then lied back down. She said that she felt like throwing up. Eventually, we did finally get moving. We had 3 miles of down that we covered quickly. Stopping only once at a spring, we filled water bottles. It was cold at the bottom because it was a River valley and West facing. The sun had not reached it yet. We pushed on, over a small ridge and down to the river in the other side. This time we stopped on it’s rocky shore. We ate our first snack, but Mama Raven did not want any food, because of her stomach. Because she needed the calories, she managed to eat a small bit. We left the Middle Fork of the Elk River and headed up the North Fork of the Elk River. It was not a hard climb but it was very difficult for Mama Raven, she had very little strength. Another problem was the heat. This area had been burned sometime in the last 10 years and there was no shade. Part way up the valley, on the other side of the Elk River, we saw a very large herd of sheep. They were all hiding up under pine trees trying to get out of the sun. We came across a small trailer with sheep dogs and two men watching the flock. The next mile really caused Mama Raven problems. She was moving slower and slower. We came to a small clump of trees and everyone settled down in the shade. Mana Raven took a short nap and ate a snack. We stayed there for about an hour. After leaving the shade trees we came to a stream that we needed to take our shoes off to cross. Cool and refreshing was the water on our hot feet.  We filtered 4L of water before starting a steep climb. Not a long climb, but steep enough to cause another problem for Mama Raven. Every step created a stabbing pain in her lower back. She has bone degeneration in her lower back and so far on this trip, has not been a serious problem for her.  We figured out that she had too much weight. We divided her food bag between her, Bling and Papa Raven. She was mad by this time. She was mad she had to have help carrying her weight. Mad she was nauseated. Mad she was so tired. Mad we are going so slowly! Nonetheless, taking weight off her back, eased her back pain.  The terrain leveled out, however all Mama Raven wanted was to climb into a bed. We pushed on another mile or so, so we would be near water. For once, we easily found a good camp. It was only 5:30, but Mama Raven was done. Mosquitoes were relentless in this area. Just after the tents had been set up, Napoleon and Red Cross came walked by.  They said they would be stopping in this area also. Mama Raven slept while Whisper, Bling, and Papa Raven walked back to the river for water. She did manage to eat a good bit of her dinner. We all hope that she feels better tomorrow. We are about eight miles behind schedule for this section and if we did not make up some time, it will become a problem. We only have enough food for seven days, not eight!

Frizzle and Pedi

Going down a bench (1520.5)
Day 92 – 7/22/17
Miles – 22.7
Total miles – 1313.9

The rain stopped sometime around ten last night. By morning, it had broken up and a good part of the sky was clear. Mosquitoes were still pesky. We packed a little slower than normal, trying to keep everything dry. The tents and sleeping bags were so wet, we knew that we would need to dry them the first chance we had. We put our pack covers on so they would dry as we hiked. Todays hiking was an easy climb. We would hike up a hill that leveled on top then drop down the other side. This was done over and over throughout the day. Each hill was higher than the last one so we gained altitude all day. One of the early meadows we hiked through, we came across a young couple from Boulder, doing trail magic. They offered us grapes, plumes, oranges, chips, and sodas. Their names were Frizzle and Pedi. We talked, ate, and swatted mosquitoes with them. It was a wonderful trail magic surprise out of no where. Thank you Frizzle and Pedi!  At the beginning of the day, we were in a lodge pole forest. As we climbed, we left the lodge pole behind and came to many meadows with trees surrounding them. As we went higher, the trees got shorter and more wind blown. Finally, we left all the trees behind and crossed rolling green hills with granite rocks poking through. It truly is beautiful country up there. Mid morning we past a campground and we stopped to dry out our tents and sleeping bags. The sun was a bit muted by clouds, but everything dried. As the morning went on, the clouds thickened to the South of us and stayed clear to the North. We knew we were in for a wet afternoon.  However, the building clouds dissipated and by evening the sky was clear, no clouds. Hooray! After yesterday’s rain, we were relieved with the unexpected clearing. We would have dry feet tonight! One section of trail was a bit frustrating. As we dropped down from our high point of 11,800′, we came to a long stretch of wet meadows that were more like a swamp. It was impossible to keep feet dry. This of course means more stinking socks. Oh well, what is a thru hiker going to do? As the sun was setting, we started looking for a camp, the only problem was that we walked out into an old burned area. All the trees were dead. Just white trunks sticking up in the air. This is a big problem if you are looking for a place to camp. You never camp were dead trees are standing, they can fall at anytime especially if there is wind. We kept hiking until we got to the far side of the burn and then found a place for the night.

Heavy packs

A wet and lonely piece of trail (1497.8 R)
Day 91 – 7/21/17
Miles – 12.8
Total miles – 1291.2

The plan was to hike out today from Steamboat Springs.  The hotel we are in serves a free breakfast so we were there at 6:00.  Before we left for the trail, we needed to get to Walmart.  Mama and Papa Raven caught a bus to the other end of town so we could purchase the extra food for this section as well as a few other items. Probably the most important item we needed to get was more memory for the camera. Without it, no more pictures.  Bling and Whisper stayed in the hotel room. When we returned to the room, we worked on packing up. We called about a ride back to the trail and set it up for 11:30. We finished packing, then we checked out of our room at 11:00. We waited in the lobby for our ride to come. While we waited, Papa Raven ordered a new set of gaiters for Bling, His old pair are thoroughly trashed with huge holes in the sides of them. We talked for a while to the receptionist named Dorothea. She was very sweet. In fact everyone at the hotel was exceptionally nice. One of the workers named Anne, made sure the kids had plenty of extra muffins left over from breakfast for the trail. After getting picked up, we rode to the trail head. We began hiking a little after noon. This is the first day of a 7 day section and everyone had full water bottles.  This means that everyone’s packs were heavy, very heavy.  Our only saving grace was that the trail started off very easy. There were thunderstorms all about, but we had sun for most of the afternoon. Our trail went through meadows filled with flowers of every color and type: Paint brush, Columbine, Cinquefoil, Yarrow, Lupine, wild roses and geraniums.  Of all the states we have ever hiked in, Colorado wins hands down for the grandest show of flowers. The miles seemed to go by slowly as the afternoon progressed. Again, the packs are exceptionally heavy and we are moving slowly. As the evening approached, the surrounding clouds swelled and grew dark. Around 5:30, it started to rain and it did not stop until long after we were camped. It was not the hard down pore you would except from a thunderstorm, but it was a soft continuous rain that lasts a long time. It reminded us of Washington rain. We walked in it until about 7:00 and started looking for a place to camp. There was very little clear spots available so it took a long time to find a place. We quickly set camp and got into our dry tents. Despite the rain, we were being tormented by  hundreds of mosquitoes!  Hopefully, the weather and the pesky mosquitoes should clear by morning.

Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs (40_283)
Day 90 – 7/20/17
Miles – 18.5
Total miles – 1278.4

For some reason, we are sleeping very soundly these days and waking up at our usual 5:50 time slot is becoming hard.  Nonetheless, town was calling and hitting the trail on time was a priority, no matter what our bodies desired. From the trail, Steamboat is twenty-five miles off the trail which means hitchhiking. There are two places we could hitchhike to Steamboat Springs from. One was 16.5 miles away and the other was 18.5. We will decide when we there as to which we will hitch from. We started hiking down a dirt road. It was easy and fast. The road wound its way through pine and Aspen forest and open meadows. For the first few miles, we held to a 3 mile an hour pace. Soon we were nearing Hwy 14. From a hill, we could see the Hwy below us. Instead of walking 1.5 miles to the North and then walking the same to the West, we decided to cut straight down a field to the road. We had to climb over a barbed wire fence. This reminded us of the days of hiking New Mexico with Catwater. Just before we reached the highway, we had to cross a river. The river banks were covered with thick bushes and up and down the length of the river were beaver dams creating small ponds. We found a shallow one and crossed it. Unlike most of the river crossings of Colorado we have done, this one was not freezing cold. In fact, it felt good to wade through it.  Hwy 14 was a busy, paved road and we had more than eight miles of walking to get to the junction road into Steamboat Springs. We do not like walking paved roads. They hurt our feet and the cars, semi trucks, and huge motor homes go by very fast, sometimes blowing our hats off as they whiz by us. When we got to the intersection of Hwy 14 and Hwy 40, our first location to hitch we found a road crew working and no place to hitch from, thus we hiked the two miles to the second location. When we reached where the trail cuts off of the highway we stopped and got ready to hitchhike.  We took out our sign and the four of us started trying to get a ride. After about 25 minutes, we took a bathroom break and right then someone pulled over. We found out that it was Wrangler, who was a 2015 PCT thru-hiker, the same year we did it. He lives in Steamboat Springs and he drove us to a hotel in town. Before we got out of his truck, Mama Raven asked him if he longs for the trail? His response was yes, everyday! It is an addiction to a beautiful and simple way of life. Normal living is never satisfying again.  We got into our hotel room and quickly began the baths and laundry process. Afterwards, Papa Raven and Bling took a bus to the PO for our boxes.

For weeks now Mama Raven has been without her Mp3 player with all her music, podcasts, and books on it because it got lost somewhere on the trail. What she did not know was that someone had found it and contacted Papa Raven. Treeman, who does Facebook, put out a post for the missing Mp3. We really did not think it would ever be found and returned but we decided to try it.  Sneakily, Papa Raven, arranged with Kathleen, who found the player, to have it sent here to Steamboat Springs. It was one of the items he picked up at the PO. When we returned to the room, he gave her the small package and told her that someone had sent her something. She had no idea who Kathleen was, but with great wonderment, she opened it. To great surprise, joy, and excitement, her Mp3 player popped out of the envelope. Mama Raven yelped with happiness! Thank you so much Kathleen!!!!

We are heading back to the trail tomorrow, after stopping by Walmart. These days, we are eating much more than we use to, thus we need purchase more food items.  We are not sure how we will get back up to the trail, but we will figure that all out tomorrow. The next section is a long, seven days, so our packs will be very heavy heading out.

Wrangler

Good miles

Road 103 (40_100 R)
Day 89 – 7/19/17
Miles – 24.5
Total miles – 1259.9

Once again, we slept very soundly and did not want to get up. However, knowing, the longer it takes to get going, the longer it will take to get to Steamboat Springs. Thus we got up and packed quickly.  We left camp and hiked down to a saddle then we started around Haystack Mountain. On the side of it, just a mile from camp, we stopped to filter water. Once finished, we continued around Haystack and dropped down to a small pass on the other side. From there, we started the first of two climbs we had to do today. They are much smaller than yesterday’s climbs. The first one worked it’s way up to timberline and then stayed on ridges for several miles before dropping back down. This down was one we scratched our heads on. Here we are up high and there’s the trail on the other side of the valley. Instead of riding the ridge around, like most of the trail had done, it drops way down to the bottom of the valley and then goes back up the other side. There probably is a reason for it, but nonetheless, we wish the trail followed the ridge around. Thunderstorms formed around us all morning and as we headed down, they thickened overhead. We quickly reached the bottom of the valley, then headed up the opposite side on an old road. However, we lost the road, and we ended up walking straight up the mountain until we found it again. This was the last climb of the day and we looked forward to level down the remainder of the day. We did have to stop to put on rain gear on because it started to sprinkle on us. The wind also picked up and the temperature dropped. We walked for many miles on the dirt road. We past through a large herd of cows. In the evening, we found a flat place off the road to camp. Home for the night. There is a good chance we could get into Steamboat Springs tomorrow! We will see.

Big Climb

Saddle (38_086)
Day 88 – 7/18/17
Miles – 19.1
Total miles – 1235.4

We camped in a very protected location with trees over head. Happily every thing was dry, even though it sprinkled twice during the night. We slept really well and we did not want to get up. Nonetheless, we groggily got going and packed. We did not get very far before we found a spring. We stopped and filled every water container we had. During the next 2-3 hours, we worked our way down from the high alpine meadows filled with wild flowers to thick lodge pole pine forest. Then we started a very long and very big up, 3,200′ in 8 miles. This included several little downs in the middle of the up, just to add more climbing. We spent the rest of the day doing this. As we began the climb, several motorcycles came by. Shortly after, 10 more motorcycles came down the mountain past us. It was quite noisy and dusty for awhile. Unlike the PCT, the CDT allows motorized vehicles on certain sections of the trail. There are not many sections that do, but there are a few.  One of our small downs led us to Hwy 125, where we left the motorcycle track.  We started the last and hardest part of the up. The trail took us up Packway Mountain. First there was a long traverse up the right side and then out onto it’s North face. We then climbed a shoulder in switchbacks until we came to a ridge that ran to the top. It was a long, tiring up and we were relieved it is over with. At the top, was a cement building with covered windows all the way around it. It was not big. We went inside and found it empty except for two metal boxes. We have no idea what was in them. The day was getting late so we did not waste time exploring and started down.  For several miles there was no trail and we walked post to post. The mosquitoes in the area were absolutely maddening! When we did come to trail, it lead us to a saddle where we found a space large enough to camp. Our feet hurt from the steep, rocky downs. Our last few days of Colorado have been tough and we are tired. However, the beauty of it all, makes all the effort, worth it. We will be in Steamboat Springs the day after tomorrow.

Grand Lake and Onwards

Grand Lake and after Bowen Pass (37_091 R)
Day 86 and 87 – 7/16/17 and 7/17/17
Miles – 18.3
Total miles – 1216.3

7/16/17
Having gotten showers and laundry done yesterday there was very little to do today. Papa Raven needed to talk to Red Cross and Napoleon so he kept an eye on their tent next to the grocery store. Our hotel room looked down on them. He waited until they woke up, then Bling and he went down. Papa Raven wanted to take pictures of Yogi’s guide for Steamboat Springs in order to plan for the next section.  Our copy is in the food drop that is in the PO that is not open till Monday. Papa Raven and Bling talked with Red Cross and Napoleon for about an hour then they went to the store for food. Red Cross and Napoleon headed up the trail for the next section. We spent most of the day lounging in the room doing odd jobs. Our room is on the second floor and we have a view in both directions of Main St. Around 1:00, the Buffalo Days Parade started. We had a great views from our hotel room and watched all the cars, horses, carts, bikes, people walking and people riding on trailers go by. We did not expect it and it was fun to watch. Later that afternoon the town was hit by three thunderstorms. We enjoyed watching them from our nice warm dry room. In the late afternoon, we became tourists and took a stroll up and down the board walks of Grand Lake, another wonderful tourist town of Colorado. It seems every other business is a restaurant or a bar. To save money, we bought our meals from the grocery store.  However, we passed a fudge store and could not resist buying a square of fudge for a special dessert on the trail in the upcoming section. It reminded us of the days of the San Jaun’s with Quicksilver and his delivery of fudge every night. All and all, it was a relaxing day.

7/17/17
We woke a little before 6:00, and Mama and Papa Raven headed for the only bakery in town. We picked up pastries for breakfast. Then a little before 8:00, Bling and Papa Raven went over to the PO to get our boxes. When we entered the building, there was Red Cross. We knew that she needed to return to town because she had new hiking poles in the PO but we did not except her this soon. Come to find out, she hiked only a short distance and then returned to town;  Napoleon hiked on. We returned to our room and quickly sorted our food. The bump box came here therefore we pulled out what we need. We also got a box of new clothes and socks to celebrate the mid point of our trip. We sorted out what we wanted and made a go home pile. Bling also got new bottoms for his hiking pole, which he badly needed. A little before 9:00, Papa Raven returned to the PO to mail the bump box and extra clothes. We hiked out of town at 9:30. A little later than we liked, but not that bad.
We hiked out of town and headed for the Rocky Mountain National Park.  We decided to take the alternate instead of the normal CDT.  If we had taken the normal CDT through RMNP, we would have had to spend the night and that requires us to carry a bear canister.  We did not want to rent one for one night and then we would have to figure out how to return it. When we got to the far side of the shortcut, we found Napoleon sitting there waiting for Red Cross. He told us that he was going to wait for her here at the junction of the two routes through the RMNP. We hiked on toward the next road crossing. This was in a wide flat valley with a several large meadows. It rained lightly on us when we got there. We crossed the road and then followed a dirt road through the meadow. There were two moose near the trees on the far side of the meadow, too far off to get a photo of them. Mosquitoes were very pesky here. We walked across a bridge over the Colorado River. The river was only about 20′ wide and a few feet deep. Not big at all. Somewhere North of us, up in the Rockies, is the beginning of it. Next, was our big climb for the day. It was not hard because it was over 8 miles. Part of the way up, it started to rain, however luckily, it did not last long.  As we neared timberline, we came upon four moose. This time they were very close. We think all if them were male. There was one big one and two medium ones and one very small. The largest was only 20′ away from us. They were not afraid, they just kept eating the vegetation. The biggest problem was that they literally walked up the trail and we could not pass. After about 10 minutes, they moved off the trail and we could hike on. As we climbed up Bowen Pass, we were able to look back and see the four moose grazing in an open meadow. This moose sighting was exciting for all of us. The walk down the other side of the pass hurt our feet a bit, but we moved quickly down the valley back into trees.  There are so many different wild flowers of every color in these meadows here. It is beautiful!  The trail next went around the backside of the mountain traversing in and out of bowls. We found a good campsite tucked up in a stand or trees. As we are getting ready for bed, it started sprinkling rain on us. All were asleep except Papa Raven and thus the only one to hear what he believes a lone bull moose in the meadow below us calling out loud a moose chant into the night.

Grand Lake

Grand Lake (36_013)
Day 85 – 7/15/17
Miles – 15.2
Total miles – 1198.0

It’s a town day! All the Ravens are excited. We are at 8,400′, which is an elevation we have not been at since New Mexico. Because of the low elevation, we had a warm night. We got moving at our normal time and quickly got the to first campground. We stopped because there is water and bathrooms. After that, came two more campgrounds, which are located at the end of Grandy Lake. We hiked along the edge of the lake for several miles. Then the trail turned up and away from the lake. We got up on an Aspen tree covered bench. When the bench ended,we dropped back down to an arm of Grandy Lake. Then we hiked to the inflow, which is a steam that came down from Shadow Mountain Lake. We cut inland. At one point, we came across a large crew of CDT trail workers doing their magic on the trail.  What an improvement their hard work has done on this section! One of the workers asked us if we were The Ravens, we were surprised to hear our name. We stopped to talk to her a few minutes. Her name was Wizard. After thanking her for their hard work, we headed down the exceptionally clear and smooth trail! As we were hiking through a meadow, Bling saw something that did not look right. He stopped and moved off the trail to get a better look. We all joined him. We realized that it was a set of moose antlers sticking out of the grass. Excitedly, we all watched.  Then the moose stood up. He watched us and we watched him. Finally, he moved back into the bushes. We went back to the trail and looped for another great view of the moose. After leaving the moose, we quickly came to the far end of Shadow Mountain Lake and and small piece of land that separates it from Grand Lake, which is a wonderful tourist town. Hence it is expensive! We called every hotel and hostel in town for a room to stay. Since it is a weekend, all but one had no vacancy and the prices were terribly expensive.  We got the last vacant room in Grand Lake at a horrible price.  Just a note about hostels. We do not stay in them very often because they charge an average of twenty-five to thirty dollars a person. Since there is four of us, more often than not, a hotel room is cheaper for us, especially the hotels that offer a free breakfast. Anyways, onto town. Our first stop was the store for something to drink. Next to the store was a small green area where the hikers collected. We sat there for a few hours talking and eating. We saw Lumber, Red Cross and Napoleon, China Rock, Dirty Bird, Diatome and Deep. Most are leaving tomorrow because they are resupplying in town. but we are not. It actually would be cheaper than what we are paying for hotel rooms. However, we also are waiting for other gear to arrive. Also, our bump box was sent here and that has to be forwarded on, thus we need access to the Post Office.

Napoleon, Red Cross, and China Rock

Flat Lands

Monarch Lake (34_197)
Day 84 – 7/14/17
Miles – 23.1
Total miles – 1182.8

Despite setting our tents up behind a fifteen high mound of boulders and rocks, the wind blew hard, rattling the tents throughout the night. On the West side of the ridge we were on, the land sloped downward with smooth, green rolling hills. To the east, was a +1000′ cliff. The wind came roaring over the rock wall of protection and down the smooth side. At times, the wind blew so hard that the tent’s walls collapsed on our heads. Finally, Papa Raven got out of the tent a tied an extra guideline to hold the tent out. This helped a bit. It was late when the wind finally died down and we could sleep. Even with all the wind, we still got a great deal of condensation. We would need to dry the tents and sleeping bags later today. We started today’s hike by traversing along ridges. From saddle to saddle we went. Most of the time there was no trail, just posts to hike towards. After ridge walking for over 6 miles, we turned West and headed down the mountain. It did not take long to walk down from the 12,000′ ridges to the tree filled valley below. Now came the easy section, low rolling hills covered in trees. We passed through thick groves of pine then wide meadows. Small streams meandered here and there. In the evening, we came to large Monarch Lake. We will go around even bigger ones tomorrow. We decided the camp at the far side of the lake so we walked around it and came to the trailhead. No camping was permitted around the lake. Thus, we started down the road looking for a flat place to camp. Mama Raven found an old campsite and we called it home for the night. Geese could be heard calling up at the lake. Tomorrow we will get into Grand Lake and take a zero. We do not want to take a zero but we have to. The past office is not open on Saturday, so we need to wait until Monday to get all our boxes. Not what we wanted to do. Since we are behind schedule, we began this section thinking we could make up time. But due to losing the trail often, poor weather, strenuous peaks to climb, and forced time off, we are even further behind!

Thankful!

On a windy ridge (33_081 R)
Day 83 – 7/13/17
Miles – 17.5
Total miles – 1159.7

We woke in the morning pinching ourselves. We were in a warm dry room! What a luxury! However, our hotel room was a disaster. All of our packs had a major pack explosion to dry as much as we could. Around the room, there were tents and sleeping bags hanging. Misc. items were all out drying. The worst part were the wet and foul smelling socks and shoes. When our hiking all day with wet feet, the foot wear reeks!!!!  The closed up room with four sets of putrid socks and shoes made the room stink horribly. To air the room out, we opened the windows even though it was thirty-five degrees outside.  We stared packing all the dried items. The tents needed more time, so we left them out while we went down and had breakfast. The sky was clear and the day cold, 35°. We arranged our ride back to the pass for 8:00. That gave us time to finish getting ready. The same woman picked us up last night gave us a ride back to the trail.  By 8:30 we were back at the pass and ready to hike. However this time we had plenty of blue sky! This day we will have two big climbs, both over 13,000′. First, we set out on the smaller of the two. Mt Flora tops out at 13,123′. We climbed well but slowed as we get above 12 000′.  Altitude still slows us down. Reaching the top, we rested for awhile, then we started down. The down was not bad for the first few miles, but then we hit a rocky section and that went on and on. It really hurt our feet. As we were going down, clouds started to move in from the East. We could see long lines of dark rain swollen clouds heading towards us. Our only hope was to move far enough North to avoid them. When we finally reached the bottom of the down, it started to sprinkle. No not again! We are completely dry and have no desire to get soaked already. Thankfully, our fears were far worse than the light sprinkles we briefly had. Even though, we still put on all our rain gear just in case. Soon we began the big up, over 3,000′ to the top of Jones Peak at 13,310′. The first few miles were the steepest and we took it slow and easy. As the trail past above timberline, it rolled up onto a wide open grass covered ridge. This was a little easier to hike. But then the trail got steep again as it got closer to the summit. Once again the altitude slowed us down. Even Bling and Whisper were crawling along at a snail’s pace. As we neared the top, the wind came up, a strong cold wind. We put on warmer jackets and pushed on to the peak. The kids were waiting for us behind a stone wind break that someone had made. We did not stay long.  Clouds were covering the sun and the wind was very cold. We headed down the North side. After dropping down the main face, we found another stone wind break and decided to stop for dinner. We all stayed behind the stone wall preventing very little wind from hitting us.  A quick dinner of freeze dried lasagna was instantly consumed. Continuing on, we headed back to the trail and down the ridge. This trail loves to go along ridges, which are not the best place to camp.  They offer very little flat ground. It took awhile, but we found a spot with a small rock mound to block some of the wind. It is lumpy and bumpy, however we are going to bed dry and for that we are thankful!

Not What We Expected!

Winter Park (31_206 R)
Day 82 – 7/12/17
Miles – 15.9
Total miles – 1142.2

It rained all night. Not what we expected!  We excepted the rain to last for a little while and then clear. That has been the weather pattern in both New Mexico and Colorado on this trip. Briefly, the rain stopped when we woke up and ate breakfast. Despite the rain throughout the night, we slept well. However our sleeping bags were wet from the condensation inside the tent. It was still a dark cloudy gray when we got out of the tents. Gloomily, we knew we were in for a wet day of hiking. We moved all our gear to dry spots under the thickest trees. This was a great camp with many thick trees to shelter us. As we were packing, the clouds started to rain again. Once packed, we started down the valley, in rain. We moved quickly until we had to cross the river with no logs or rocks to aid us.  This meant taken our shoes off and wading across the frigid water in the rain. Not what we expected! With much grumbling, we put on our Crocs and crossed. The feet throbbed from the coldness of the water.  On the far side of the river, there were no trees to hide under to give us a chance to dry our feet off.  We kept the Crocs on until we found the one tree in the meadow. After putting our shoes back on, we continued on. At the bottom of our drop, we came to another crossing, and we had to repeat the process again. This time there was a new, large, beautiful log barn just on the other side of the river. Not what we expected! Bling saw a moose at one end of the barn, but unfortunately it was gone when the rest of us arrived. We got underneath the eaves of the building to dry off. By this time, the rain had stopped, but the clouds hung low and heavy in the sky. We knew this was only a temporary reprieve. Leaving the barn, we hiked up over 2,000′ in 2.5 miles on a dirt road. At the top, we rejoined the CDT. We were on an alternate route out of Silverthorne. With solid trail now, we headed out on another ridge walk.  The whole time we kept a close eye on the clouds. For right now, the darkest ones were to the West and South. We headed north and then East around the head of a valley. For several hours, we traversed over high alpine meadows and rocky outcrops. Thankfully, it did not rain during  this period. Clouds did roll in and we would be surrounded by fog. It was very pretty. Finally, upon reaching the far side, we reentered low wind-swept trees. As we went east, we stopped at the first place we could get water, a spring. Just as we began to get drinking water, it started to sprinkle. We hiked a short distance to find a good location to eat out of the rain. Sitting under the protection of trees, the sun even came out a few times. Now with energy and high hopes, we set out on our second up of the day, a 1,000′ climb back up above the trees. This time the clouds did not hold back and the rain came down and the wind picked up.  Not what we expected! Shrouded in fog and rain we hiked to the top of Stanley Mountain. Then came three miles of ridge walking, in sideways rain. The rain grew harder as time passed. Finally, we came to the far side of the ridges and we headed down into the trees. That protected us a bit. We stopped to regroup and we could hear cars down below. We were close to the bottom, Hwy 40 at Berthoud Pass. We walked to the road and crossed to a parking lot. On the far side of the parting lot, was a building. Great we could squeeze under its eaves and get a bit out of the rain and cold.  The building was dark as we approached.  We found enough room to get out of the rain. Papa Raven tried the door and it opened. Not what we expected! Motion sensitive lights turned on. A corridor led to a larger room with benches around the perimeter and it was warm inside. Given it was in the low 40’s and raining outside this was heaven. Now what do we do? It is pouring hard rain outside. The Ravens are saturated from head to foot. Even our sleeping bags were still wet from last night.  It was six o’clock in the evening, still plenty of day light left for more hiking. However, the next section of trail climbed up over 13,000′ where it would be even colder. A sign said, the building was a “warming hut” for anybody that needed to come out of the weather. There also were bathrooms attached. We could stay right here in the hut and sleep on the floor, even though it says no camping. The town of Winter Park was 14 miles to the North, but we did not have cell service to call for a ride. We could stand in the rain to hitchhike, but our experience of hitchhiking is that very few people want to or have the space in their car for four people and their backpacks, especially ones that are soaking wet.  A few people stopped to use the restroom. One was a mom with three young kids. She asked if everything was ok. We told her our problem and she said that she would call someone to come and pick us up. As we waited, the rain came down harder and harder. The temperature dropped.  Mama Raven said that tonight we are not going to pitch a tent outside in this weather.  Despite the sign that says no camping, we will sleep in the hut if no ride arrives.  An hour later a ride showed up and we were off to Winter Park and a dry room and hot showers to thaw out. Not what we expected! It ends up, Cassidy, which is the mom that called a taxi to pick us up, paid the fifty dollar taxi ride. Mama Raven had an opportunity to thank Cassidy on the phone. Mama Raven asked her how we can repay her the taxi fee.  She said we can’t. It was a gift! Not what we expected!  On all of our long hikes, the most beautiful thing we encounter is the human heart that regularly reaches out to help complete strangers with kindness and compassion.  Sitting in a warm room with gear hanging all about us and having a good Mexican dinner in our bellies is “Not what we expected!”

Cassidy, I am uncertain if we have your name correct. In the hut, we did not get your name. I believe the taxi driver called you Cassidy. If we are wrong, I apologise. Please let us know if we are mistaken by leaving a comment in the blog so we can correct it. Again, thank you for your help!

The Weatherman is Sometimes Right, Darn it All!

Bobtail Creek (S388 R)
Day 81 – 7/11/17
Miles – 16.6
Total miles – 1126.3

We woke early so we could get breakfast at the hotel and an early start. Our packs were almost closed up. On the weather channel, we heard there is a high chance of rain showers the next few days, so we packed for rain.  The Silverthorne alt passed right in front of our hotel, so out into the cold and clear morning, we walked. Leaving Silverthorne is a long up climbing Ptarmigan Peak, about 2,000′ above the town. The hike up to Ptarmigan Peak must be a popular one, because the trail was wide and well worn. As we neared the summit, our path cut off cross-country and headed around the mountain. The biggest problem we had, was the lack of a trail. Instead, it was cairns, which meant we had to hike from a pile of rocks to another pile of rocks. Losing our way was common, therefore the GPS came out often to get us back on track. The mountain top was rolling fields of short green plants and grasses, with many flowers. Mama Raven was having fun taken pictures of them. Also, we passed through a number of Aspen tree groves. We rounded the peak and headed for Ptarmigan Pass. As we traversed across from the peak, we met Tour Guide, who was heading south. It is a small world on the trail. We met her early on the PCT in 2015.  She started in New Mexico, but flipped to Wyoming to miss the snow in the San Jaun’s. From the pass, we dropped into a valley, switchbacking until we got the bottom. Then we went right up the other side. This climb was slower because it had less switchbacks. Upon reaching the top, we traversed from saddle to saddle. As the afternoon went on, clouds began to build. The few that rained, missed us. We hoped our luck would hold. Finally, we crossed a short but steep pass and dropped into a nicely treed valley. Just as we reached timberline, it stated to sprinkle. We hiked quickly into the trees and found a dry place to put on our rain jackets, pack covers, and rain skirts. As we were doing this, the rain picked up and then hail started. We decided to wait under the trees and eat something and see if it would let up. Soon the hail stopped, but the rain continued. We headed out into it. We walked along in the rain comfortably until the river crossing. Most river crossing have rocks or logs to aid in crossing, however this one did not. Because of the heavy rain showers, the water was running high with brown muddy ran off. Our only choice was to take off our shoes and cross in our Crocks and sandals. Something we do not look forward to with a down pour overhead. As suspected, the water was painfully cold. Luckily, there was a tree on the far side with thick branches keeping the ground beneath it dry. It was the perfect spot for all of us to get underneath to dry our feet off while it rained. Shortly we had our shoes back on and down the trail again with cold feet. A little while later, we came upon a large camp with thick trees all about. This was a good place to camp, so we stopped for the night. It is still raining but it should clear up by morning…I hope. We are behind schedule for this section. We were slowed by not being able to find the trail and bad weather. Nonetheless, we have four more days to make up the time.

Tour Guide

Silverthorne

Silverthorne (S223)
Day 80 – 7/10/17
Miles – 6.7
Total miles – 1109.7

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We got to sleep in a little bit, because breakfast didn’t start until 7:00. After eating, we started the six mile walk over to Silverthorne. We followed the path along the side Dillion Lake. This is a large lake with many fingers that we hiked around. It was a beautiful walk. As we got close to Silverthorne, we crossed Dillion dam. Toward the end of the walk, we saw one of the stores we needed to visit while in Silverthorne, which was REI. This REI opened only two months ago. We got new socks to replace ones with holes, and a few other articles of clothing we needed. Next, we stopped at a noddle shop for lunch, and then headed over to the hotel. Papa Raven went over to the Post Office to get our boxes while the others started working on the packs and blogs.  Once Papa Raven returned, we immediately sorted our boxes and got laundry done. About 3:00 we realized that our bump box was missing. We called the PO and they found it but Papa Raven had to go back to forward it. It had started to rain so Whisper and Papa Raven grabbed their rain coats and umbrellas and headed down to the bus stop. It was nice to ride over to the PO and stay dry doing it. We walked back to the hotel because the buses only run every hour and we did not want to sit that long. The rest of our day was doing little things and resting. We will be leaving tomorrow morning and heading to Grand Lake, getting there in a little more then four days from now. Grand Lake and Steamboat Springs are our last towns on Colorado. After that, we will be in Wyoming!

Frisco

Frisco
Day 79 – 7/9/17
Miles – 20.4
Total miles – 1103.0

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We started the day with about half our climb completed. We set out in the cold morning air down inside of a deep valley as we worked our way up through the trees and out into a bowl above timberline. Finally, we had sun shining on us.  After a quick stop to get water, we crossed Kokomo Pass. These Northern Colorado mountains are rugged and beautiful. As we looked out at the scenery, we saw a huge strip mine forever destroying a section of these mountains. Mama Raven said she looks forward to the day we do not need to do this to the land and to the time we do not have the heart to do it either!  But now is not the time. Nonetheless, Kokomo was not the top of our up. There was a little bit more over to Searle Pass the last pass before we drop down to Copper Mountain. We keep a good pace down toward the ski resort. We reached the bottom around 1:30. There was great activity for a ski resort in summer. There was a large section of snow built up with tubes and railings for snow boarders to play, a music festival, Ninja obstacle course, and much more. The only things The Ravens were interested in was food. Thus we stopped at a grill for lunch. We had burgers, a gyros, and a  turkey melt.
From Cooper Mountain the CDT heads up toward Breckenridge. There only problem is that there is a fire on Peak 7 which had closed the CDT. There is a Silverthorne Alternate that avoids the fire closure, it is 35 miles shorter and stayed at lower elevations, although it still went over two 12,000′ passes. So we decided to take the alternate. Going this route will make up 1.5 days on our schedule, of which we are currently behind on. Thus after lunch, we headed toward the 2,200′ climb out of the valley. We reached the overpass over Hwy 70 and we stopped to talk to a Colorado Trail hiker. He told us of a bike trail from Cooper Mountain to Frisco. We wondered if there was a connecting trail from Frisco to Silverthorne. We found that there was. The nice thing about the bike trail was that it was mostly level/down all the way to Silverthorne and that it was only 14 miles. We could not hike all the way to Silverthorne today, so we decided to go to Frisco and get a room. Tomorrow we will hike into Silverthorne. Several hours later we found our selves in Frisco with sour feet. We really do not like walking on pavement. The first room we tried to get a room was $215 a night, so we moved on. Finally, we found one in our price range. We settled into the room and got pizza for dinner. Being in Frisco is not what we expected and we should get into Silverthorne early tomorrow morning. It’s all good.

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A Long Down

Cataract Creek (26_099)
Day 78 – 7/8/17
Miles – 23.1
Total miles – 1082.6

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The rain stopped just as we were going to sleep. Papa Raven had to go out and tighten guide lines on both tents. When nylon gets wet, it stretches and sags. Come morning, the outside of the tents were dry but the insides were wet with condensation. We had to wipe them down.  The first part of today was an up. It was not too steep so we did not have much of a problem with it. It just took time. We found a place in the sun and we could dry the tents and sleeping bags. With every up there is a down and this one was long, about 15 miles. It rolled over ridges and dropped down river valleys. It took most of the day to get down. In the mid-afternoon we reached Tennessee Pass with a paved road and bathrooms. From there, we continued down this time following an old train bed. We past a line of 6 old kilns used to make charcoal for the train. Only one was partially standing. The other five were just round spots on the ground. First thing this morning and several times throughout the day we saw signs telling us to watch out for unexploded military ordinance. When we finally reached the bottom of our down, we came out of the trees to a line of underground cement ammunition bunkers. About 50 of them in one long line. This whole valley was Camp Hale. That was where the 10th Mountain Division trained for winter military maneuvers for WWII. These were the soldiers who specialized winter mountain combats in Europe. After crossing a corner of the old camp, we started up. A big of of 3,000′. It was late in the day, so we pushed up to where the trail gets somewhat more level. We found a semi-level spot and took it. We have gotten about a third of the climb done and we will finish it tomorrow morning when we are not so tired.

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