Date- September 3, 2019
Location- side of trail
Elevation- 10,197 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 23.5 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1453.6 miles
Weather/Temp- partly cloudy, 70s
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- elk, mule deer
Days without shower- 3
Days without laundry- 3
I slept really good last night and woke up feeling snug as a bug. I think I lay awake watching the sun rise in the east for the better part of an hour. Then I broke camp in about ten minutes. As a consequence, I was hiking by 7:30am – a little later than I would have liked.
Originally, I wanted today to be another 30+ mile day. The biggest reason it wasn’t (not counting the challenging terrain) is because I didn’t eat dinner last night. I was too tired and forgot to force myself to eat. This resulted with me waking up on an empty tank while trying to keep the engine alive and running all day.
It’s always better to wake up with a reserve of energy from the foods you ate the evening before. It starts your day off being ahead of the game, and allows you to pile new calories on top of the old calories. You end up with a steadier and longer burning tank of fuel.
Despite the 900 calories I ate as soon as I woke up, it didn’t last more than 7 miles before I felt the lethargy of running on empty. All day, I just couldn’t stay ahead of it – no matter how much I ate.
I didn’t see another human being for the entire day. No hikers, no hunters, nobody. I saw some hunter’s trucks parked on forest roads early in the morning, but that was it.
After a quick descent right off the bat, the next 7 miles consisted of more than 3,000 feet of roller-coaster climbing with no shortage of blow-downs. All of the climbing came to a head at the summit of Parkview Mountain, at approx 12,300 feet.
By the time I reached the summit at around 1:30 pm, I only had less than 12 miles completed and felt gassed. The entire day had been nothing but up and down at over 10k ft. I was feeling the elevation, as well as my lack of adequate nutrition. From this point on I had to stop to rest and eat every 2 to 3 miles. It was aggravating, but, I didn’t let myself get too annoyed.
Stop and go… stop and go… I continued moving down the trail while tackling more short climbs and descents. On one short descent, a young bull elk spooked off the trail. It ran up the mountain a short distance before stopping to take a quick look at me – and then continued his flight. He was a 4 pointer with only two forked prongs on the end of each antler stock. He’d be safe from any trophy hunters; however, the hunters trying to put food on the table probably wouldn’t hesitate.
The views were incredible today, as you can see by the pictures. Their beauty wasn’t lost to me as I admired them with every break; but while hiking, my head was mostly down.
At first, I wanted over 30 miles or better. Then when I realized how tired I was, I wanted 28 miles. After that, when I got hit with a steep 1,000+ ft climb at the end of the day (which knocked the wind right out of me)… I just wanted to stop when the ground looked flat and the trees warm.
It took me until almost 8 pm to get the 23 miles I managed to hike. Today was going to be the day I caught Jetpack, but alas it wasn’t so. I saw a lot of heavy clouds moving in while on the last climb, so I pitched my tarp between two trees tonight. For added insulation I opened my umbrella and shored up the opening on the side where I would lay my head. This will mitigate any wind or rain spray, if indeed it comes to that. I’m tucked into some very thick forest, so I imagine I’ll be fine if anything but a severe storm rolls through. I can hear thunder in the distance now.
It’ll be about a 17 to 18 mile hike directly into the town of Grand Lake tomorrow. There is the option to add 24 extra miles onto that by doing the Rocky Mountain Loop trail, but I think I’m going to pass. I did it in 2017, and while it was gorgeous, it was a lot of climbing. I also did it in knee deep snow and got caught in some nasty whiteout conditions. This year I think I’ll pass, in favor of getting down the trail a little faster.
As of right now, I’m about 40-50 miles from where I left off in 2017. It will be like starting a new trail when I get to that point. Almost everything has been familiar to me for the past nearly 1,500 miles. Soon, everything will be new and I won’t know what to expect. I can’t wait!
You can read my current and past posts, and see my photos by clicking this link and going to Boundlessroamad.com