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
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.
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.