Daily Log: Day 22

Meetup: Day 22 – Monday 8/3/2020 – 1639.8 – clear, cloudy, no rainy, gusty winds. I woke at 4:45 am and Justin drove me back to Bowen Gulch at 5:45 am to slack pack to and through Grand Lake CO. It’s about 10 miles. I needed a break from all the climbing which was wearing me out. I got to the Grand Lake Trailhead via the RMNP Alternative. While hiking I saw a moose cow and its calf. Then he picked me up and we went back at the Winding River campground to relaxed. Justin made a tasty and very filling sandwich: toasted bread, bacon, egg and cheese. Yum! I did some chores – laundry and free hot showers. The shower was wonderful – a highlight. It’s helping me feel less stressed. Oh and tonight is ribeye steak, and corn chips with bean dip. He is such a great cook. I am very spoiled.

My Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes footprint on the RMNP alternate trail.

Passing by Rocky Mountain National Park

We didn’t have time to do much planning. Justin and I live one day at a time. So when he tried to get a wilderness pass to hike in RMNP we were unsuccessful. Instead there is a bypass AKA an alternative which I slack packed today. As I rounded a corner I came upon a moose and her moosling (cow and calf). Quickly I snapped this picture and moved on. All the moose that I’ve encountered so far are not frightened of people so they do not run away. Instead these massive animals just stand there and stare back at you.

Moose cow and calf in Rocky Mountain National Park

Daily Log: Day 21

Meetup: Day 21 – Sunday 8/2/2920 – 1612.5 – clear, sunny, hot, cloudy. I woke late at 5:12 am and was on trail at 5:55 am. Today I had three climbs. The first was on a forest road and I missed a turn. I was at the “top” and eating a snack when a mountain biker comes up. We chat and he rides off. I look at my location and realize I’m not on the trail. I had missed the turn off about 0.2 miles back and down. The trail had split from the forest road and I was so focused on climbing that I went right by it. Down I went, got to the actual trail, and up I climbed again. The second climb was hard too. I had to do 25-counts. Then on the last climb I was nearly there, only 0.5 miles, when I heard a voice. It was Justin and saw him walking towards me. He had climbed 3000’ over 7 miles to get to Bowen Pass. He brought Cokes! We ate lunch and proceeded to hike back to his Jeep! It took 3 1/2 hours back and we got there at 4:00 pm. He drove us to the Winding River Resort where we are staying tonight. I need a break so tomorrow I’m slack packing 10 miles to Grand Lake CO on an alternative route because we can’t get a permit to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. At the end he’s going to pick me up and we will stay overnight again at this same campground. The day after that I plan on slack packing again beyond Grand Lakes CO. This is all to give me a break which I desperately need. These climbs have been wearing me out! We had pancakes for dinner and now I’m stuffed!

A happy selfie after our surprise meeting just before Bowen Pass in the trees behind us. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
On the way down from Bowen Pass Justin and I encountered our first moose. We waved our hands over our heads and yelled at it, but the moose just stood there – unflappable. So after a few minutes of impasse we went off trail through brush and over blown down trees until we passed it and then continued on our way. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Waiting in the Jeep with a big smile on my face as Justin signs us into the Winding River campground. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
A few days ago Justin asked if there was anything I wanted for dinner so I suggested pancakes and sausage. He came through! (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Our campsite at Winding River. Me in my ground-based tent and Justin in his roof-top one. I am preparing Justin’s day-pack for the next day’s slack pack on an alternate trail around Rocky Mountain National Park. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 20

Day 20 – Saturday 8/1/2020 – 1595.6 – clear, cool, clouds in afternoon, no rain, but threatening. I woke at 4:45 am and was on trail at 5:35 am. I started wearing my down vest, but quickly took it off. I was too hot. The climbs were very tough. They were about 2500’ straight up. I did lots of counting to 25 steps with pauses to catch breath. I went from pole/cairn to pole/cairn straight up the side of mountain through grass, scrub brush and rocks. It was very very hard, slow and exhausting. However, I saw wonderful views though. I summited Parkview mountain around 10:45 am. Then it was very long descent on a knife edge and switchbacks. I started to get hot with the sun beating down. It took forever to get to my next water, but there was no place to put up my tent. I hiked on but rain clouds looked threatening so tossed down my tent on a slope. Ugh! And then it never rained but I’m here and settled. After resting a bit I walked back to get more water. I sweated a lot today. Now I’m sitting in my tent chillin’.

Panoramic picture with Parkview mountain in the distance. If you zoom in you’ll see the building on the summit.

See that mountain in the distance

I’m going to climb Parkview mountain which is in the distance and 12296 ft above sea level. It took me 5 long hours to climb.

The second picture is from the top. The nose strip helps me breath the rarified air.

Now to descend down the knife edge for miles.

See the peak in the distance. Well I’m going to be climbing it shortly.
Just summited Parkview peak.
Descent down the knife-edge.

Daily Log: Day 19

Meetup: Day 19 – Friday 7/31/2929 – 1580.7 – clear, cold, hot, threatening rain but none, sunny. I woke at 4:45 am and was on trail at 5:40 am. I have two climbs today: 2500’ and the later 1000’ followed by many mini climbs. I sent Justin an inReach: [“been thinking about doing it in one day but I have a big climb 2500′ and a medium climb 1000′ to get to you. I’ll make the decision after the big one.” Jul 31, 2020 7:59 AM]. On the first climb my right ankle started to hurt. It was a muscle cramp. I had no problem descending only ascending. I just ignored it and kept going. I had lunch at mile 14 and committed to get to Justin today by doing an additional 7 miles. I sent him and inReach message: [“I am coming to you after lunch” Jul 31, 2020 12:51 PM]. I started to listen to an audio book to pass the time. The second climb was OK, but then the trail was on the side of mountains and rain clouds were starting to form. I did lots of ups and downs – choppy. They wore me out. I pushed hard to get to Justin. When I got to him I was in tears from pushing so hard. Another section hiker name Mappy, who I had met a few days ago, stopped by. Justin gave him refreshments and food. We chatted at dinner together. Tomorrow is another big climb – Parkview and it might rain.

Hiking along on a dirt road enjoying the wildflowers and the view.
Late afternoon on the side of a mountain and pushing to get done for the day
Our campsite on Troublesome Pass Trailhead. I camped behind the trees on the left to stay out of the wind. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 18

Day 18 – Thursday 7/30/2020 – 1559.2 – clear, cold, partially cloudy, late afternoon sprinkles. I was up at 4:45 am and on trail at 5:35 am. It is cold so I hiked with my hands in my pockets. I didn’t wear my vest. Once the sun came up I was fine. I started on single-track trail but soon was on dirt road then asphalt road. It was a long long road walk on a 65 mph highway with a narrow shoulder. I listened to my audio book. There was no place to camp at Grizzly Creek so on I went. Then I turned onto a dirt forest road heading to my next water stop. I got there and got water but I didn’t like the camping. So on I hiked and finally found a wind-protected spot among some trees. I set up my tent. Some late afternoon rain clouds dropped a few sprinkles. I did almost 22 miles today. I might be able to get to Troublesome Pass and Justin tomorrow – a day early.

Early morning view of wildflowers, lake, mountain, sky and clouds.
I passed the 300 mile mark today. Here is my campsite location beside the trail (red line).
Relaxing in my tent at the end of the day.

Daily Log: Day 17

Meetup: Day 17 – Wednesday 7/29/2020 – 1537.4 – clear, sunny, cool, windy. I stayed in my sleeping bag until 4:45 am and got on trail about 5:45 am. Overall it was an uneventful day. There were some climbs, but nothing major. It was cool and windy so I kept my down vest on and wore wool gloves too. It was so uneventful that I listened to audio book to help pass the time. My shoes and socks dried out. Near the end as I was approaching Justin several day hikers said “You must be Tartan” your son told us about you. This happened in the last three miles. One was a lady NOBO section hiker named Knock-out. I began to mention how tough yesterday was and how much I needed to see my son. As I spoke I got choked up, excused myself and quickly continued on my way. I don’t often get emotional but after the stress of yesterday I did. After a short climb I got to Justin. I was so relieved. The social and emotional connection is so important. I dropped my pack, my poles and hugged him. It felt so good. I had made it! Later this day Glider, a hiker, stopped by for a Coke and stayed over an hour telling us about his hiking, falling down on trail, ex-wife, life,… Each hiker has a story to tell, but his was a bit too much information.

Doing my chores after arriving at our meetup – resupplying my food for the next section from the plastic bins in the Jeep. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Setting up my tent is another daily chore. Here it is right next to the trail so I placed branches/logs to protect my guy lines. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Just across the dirt road from my tent the Jeep was parked with its root-top pop-up tent. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 16

Day 16 – Tuesday 7/28/2020 – 1522.8 – clear, windy, cold, rainy, hale, mist, clearing, threatening, rainy, windy, clear. I woke at 4:45 am, and was on trail at 5:33 am. Had MIO with a pop tart for my breakfast. I started to climb. It took me two hours to do 4 miles. I stopped for snack. I met a day hiker as I was snacking. About 2 miles before the cairn at the high point it was windy and cold. I got on my windbreaker/rain jacket and gloves. I got to the cairn and sent an InReach message to Justin so he’d know I made it this far: [“Here at cairn” Jul 28, 2020 10:44 AM]. In less than a mile a cold rain started. I’m still up high and need to descend to get protection. The trail stays up high for quite a while. I crossed two sloping snow fields that were over a hundred yards wide. I cross them always trying to stay on trail or find the trail. At noon under the cover of a couple trees I put on my vest, puffy and wool gloves to keep warm. My legs are soaked and I am chilled. My shoes and socks are soaked. I eat an apple and cheese. I’m getting worried. I’m still up too high. My phone screen is wet so I can’t make work. Argh! I need to climb to 11,600 next so I can finally descend, but then I goofed. At a trail marker I go the wrong way. I turn right instead of going straight. I go off trail over 0.7 mile down into a valley. Down and down I go. Finally I get my phone to work and realize it. I need to get back on trail. I’m not safe here. I start to cross country diagonally to get back to the trail. But I go further off trail. That was not smart in the mountains. I could have gotten stuck on a cliff. If I fell and got hurt. No one would think to check here. Finally I decided to go back up the valley to the original trail marker where I made the bad turn. It is a very long climb up. When I get there I breathed a sigh of relief. I on trail again and safe. Luckily the rain has finally stopped and the sun is coming out. I have several more long ascents and descents. Nothing today is easy. Several hours pass as I continue to hike onwards. In the distance I notice rain clouds forming. I am about 3 miles from my goal. It’ll take me 90 minutes. I sped up trying to get there before it rains again. I’m almost running. I passed two hikers and their dog, but I can’t stop because I want to get to my goal, get my tent up before it rains again, and not get any wetter than I am. I get there. It is beside a lake. The first rain drops are starting. I hurriedly find a flattish spot, and put up my tent. I toss my backpack inside. Quickly I get water at the lake while more drops are falling. Finally I get in my tent. The cold rain and wind come for the second time today. At least I’m covered by my tent this time. I send my daily InReach message. My vest and puffy are soaked with sweat. My shoes and socks are soaked. I switch to dry warm stuff. I arrange my stuff inside of my tent. Then the rain comes. The tent blows. Around 5:30 pm the rain and wind stop. I make dinner and have two suckers for dessert. I need the calories to stay warm. I’ll be OK, but what a day! New shoes, the weather, wet phone, major off trail, bad choices, chilled, a second rain. OMG!

The day begins overcast.
Heading into more clouds and higher elevations