Location- Grand Lake
Distance Traveled Today- 9.4 miles
Distance Traveled Total-
Weather/Temp- rain, wind, hail, snow
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- zero
Days without shower- zero
Days without laundry- 4
So we had very minimal rain last night and I slept like a baby. I ended up taking a couple layers off because I got too hot. At one point I even woke up to find my arm slung up above my head and hanging outside the tarp in the dirt for all the wild animals of Colorado to chew on. Speaking of which, one of the few times that I woke up last night was due to a pack of coyotes losing their minds a short distance away.
The skies were fair first thing this morning, so we decided to make a go of Parkview Mountain. To our surprise and relief, we found Stomper camped about a 100 yards away from us. He ended up getting in a little later after dark, but didn’t even know we were nearby. He’d planned to contemplate the climb until morning too.
At 7 am the four of us were hot stepping up Parkview in high winds beneath a broken sky. We could see the real weather in the far distance, so there was a window we were working with. Thousands of feet of elevation gain within a couple miles on an exposed ridgeline with no real trail made for some strenuous yet rewarding hiking. The view was 360 degrees for nearly the entire climb. I was pretty much numb to how numb my face was becoming. It was so wind burned that it actually felt hot, which in turn felt kinda nice.
It took a little while, but we finally reached to wind swept summit a little before 10am. At the top of Parkview was an emergency shelter that could house 3 or 4 people comfortably; more uncomfortably. We caught our breaths and warmed up for 20 minutes before making our 5 mile descent.
We could see the weather rolling in from the distance, but once in the tree line, all you could see was pretty blue sky and fluffy clouds. It was very deceptive.
The end of that 5 mile descent found us at a remote highway. We had to make a decision: hike into the storm, or try and hitch out, wait it out, and come back afterwards. We decided to take shelter and hitchhike out of it. It would be one thing to ride it out if we had been caught off guard, days away from salvation. In this case we had a very easy out, so we took it.
Sadly, the gratitude Coloradians had shown us on our first day in this state, was nowhere to be found now. By the time we hit the road at a little before 10k feet, the grey clouds and high winds were upon us. The weather was deteriorating fast, and Parkview was already enveloped in foggy clouds. Out of the dozens and dozens of cars going by, nobody would give us the time of day.
It began to drizzle, then hail. Still, nobody stopped as we stood there obviously freezing, obviously in the middle of nowhere, and obviously looking for assistance. It certainly creates a bitter atmosphere in one’s mind, but you try to take a step back and empathize. You’re really not their problem or responsibility.
After more than an hour, it was Subaru to the rescue! Funny enough, they were headed in the opposite direction, but flipped back around in the middle of the hail storm. Then magic happened…
A middle aged man got out of the Subaru and immediately said, “Your name is Puma, isn’t it?” Then followed up with “We hiked around each other on the Appalachian Trail last year, it’s me Wild Hair.” The world was shrinking again. Puma had known this guy when they both hiked the AT last year, and now here he was traveling down this road at the exact moment we were standing on the side of it. The AT was providing trail magic thousands of miles away.
We all managed to cram in as Wild Hair whisked us away to Grand Lake, more than 30 miles out of his way. When he dropped us off, he handed Puma $30 to put towards a meal for all of us…wow!
So it’s raining, hailing, and snowing in the mountains just above us, and I’m glad I missed it. It’s only a matter of time before we get hit hard in trail. We’re hanging out at hostel here in town that has the greatest view of the lake in the entire village. This place is high on my list of favorite trail hostels. The weather isn’t supposed to be much better tomorrow, so we may be sitting tight again…