Mayor’s 2019 CDT Redemption Hike Day 77

Day- 77
Date- September 4, 2019
Location- Grand Lake
Elevation- 8,386 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 19.4
Distance Traveled Total- 1,473 miles
Weather/Temp- cloudy, rainy, lightning,  70s
Injuries- none
Pain level- zero
Spirits/Morale- need better food
Wildlife encounters- 7 moose,  Marmots, pikas
Days without shower- 0
Days without laundry- 4
Hunger/craving- none


So it didn’t rain last night, but better safe than sorry. I’m sure if I didn’t put up my tarp, it would have dumped buckets. Overall, I was so warm last night that I almost took off my shirt.

It was 7:30 when I started hiking and right away I was dragging. I had about 1,500 feet of fairly steep climbing to knock out,  then I’d be on easy street. I tried to eat last night and just couldn’t. Unsure what it is,  but my appetite was nonexistent; I couldn’t even force myself to eat anything on hand. Since I only needed to get 19 miles today (with 14 of them downhill or flat) – I figured I’d survive. 

The first five miles before cresting Bowen Pass at 11.4k ft took me three hours to complete. About a mile and a half before the pass I spotted a skeleton just off the trail in some trees. It was a large moose. Almost all the bones were there. If the skull hadn’t had brain matter still inside,  I would have packed it out. Instead, I packed out the perfectly intact lower jaw that had all its teeth – even the front bottom ones. I mailed it back home from Grand Lake. 


After Bowen Pass… things got interesting.  I picked up my pace as I let gravity do all the work. About a mile south of the pass,  a huge bull moose casually strutted across the trail,  pausing for a second to look at me, then continuing its trek up the mountain. It was perhaps 75 yards ahead of me.  He didn’t seem perturbed by my presence at all – but perhaps cautious because he kept looking back over his shoulder. 

Pressing on downhill, the trail was a green tunnel of Aspens and Evergreens crisscrossed by streams. As the day rolled into afternoon,  thunder rumbled somewhere behind me in the mountains while a calm heavy rain began to fall. The air was still warm and the heavy droplets were cool,  creating a pleasant contrast that allowed me to bathe in it without my umbrella. 

A couple miles from the road I passed into Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail became a gorgeously maintained path at this point so I was able to really turn up the speed. 


Within the last mile to the highway,  I came across three separate pairs of cow moose with their calves. I would see a pair,  take a few pictures and  move on –  and then 3 minutes later there would be another pair. Lucky I was; it brought my moose count up to 7 for the day – a new personal record!

When I hit the highway, I had the option of doing the Rocky Mountain Loop  or just taking the highway 6 miles into Grand Lake. As I mentioned before,  I’ve already done the RML, so I’m giving it a pass this year in favor of hopefully giving myself an extra day to stay ahead of any impending cold weather. 

The Pain

It was 3:30 pm when I entered Grand Lake and stopped at a convenience store to grab a Pepsi  before looking for somewhere to eat. I was deathly starving at this point and hadn’t had anything since around 9:30 am.

As I was checking out at the register,  an older woman in her 60s was in line behind me.  I had my pack on and looked filthy.  “You look like you’re on quite the journey!” The woman remarked. “A 3,000 mile hike!” I replied.  “Ooo, I bet! Look at those massive, beautiful thighs you got there!” She said in the most girlish and flirty of tones. If I would have been drinking my Pepsi, I would have spit it all over the floor in flattered embarrassment. I didn’t know what else to say other than,  “Thank you.” It’s a bit uncomfortable and amusing being hit on by a grandma type character. You just don’t expect it.

The Grill

I had my eyes set on a particular restaurant that I remembered from two years back – Sagebrush Grill. I planned to have a glorious meal there. However, when I got to the front door, it was closed for their annual employee rafting trip.  Of all the days of the year I had to get there!

Instead I settled for a Mexican restaurant that ended up being terrible. And for a starving thru-hiker to say that, you know it had to be pretty bad.  Alas,  my first town meal after a tough stretch was a let down. As I headed further across the small lakeside town,  I got caught in a heavy rain. Without looking,  I dodged into the closest business/restaurant nearby.  I thought it had said “Fat Cat Cafe,” but it turned out to be another Mexican Restaurant called “Pancho Leftys.” I guess both businesses shared the same building,  except Fat Cat Cafe was closed. 

So, I had a second lunch of Mexican food,  except this one charged me 5 bucks for chips and salsa! Welcome to Colorado tourist towns…

I finally checked into the Shadow Cliff Hostel at the top of town and met up with Jetpack, Toast, Shark Bait, and Leap Frog.  I wanted to catch them before Grand Lake, and came pretty close.  They ended the day out of Steamboat with a 20 mile lead on me.  However, they only beat me into Grand Lake by 3 hours,  taking the same route as me and skipping the loop.  They had a rough time through this section as well. 

I spent around three days in Grand Lake last time due to bad weather. Not this year. I’m hiking out tomorrow and forging ahead!

You can read my current and past posts, and see my photos by clicking this link and going to

Go to CDT Day 78.

Go to CDT Day 1


  1. “Ooo, I bet! Look at those massive, beautiful thighs you got there!”

    Better to run away with you my dear. 😮


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