Monday, July 7, 2014

Day 28: Grand Lake to Green Mountain Trailhead

We reentered Rocky Mountain National Park, enjoying the well maintained, gently graded trail so different from so much of the CDT.  The CDT makes an almost-loop through the park, and many hikers skip this section, either to avoid the extra miles or the park's bear canister requirements. Not wanting to miss any of the official trail (or the opportunity to see more of the park), we decided to hike the almost 25 mile loop in a day so we could camp in one of the park's campgrounds and avoid carrying a bear canister. 

I stopped briefly to look at the Cascades, leaning my poles against me. Splash!  I watched the cork handle bobbing along as the current swept one of my poles downstream. I followed along the shore until the pole temporarily caught in some branches. Sierra quickly shimmied out of her pack, worked her way out on a narrow log, and snatched the pole out of the water before the current carried it away again. 

We continued climbing up the trail.  A small grayish black snake slithered out from under my shoe as I stepped down, quickly disappearing into the undergrowth. My foot slipped on a wet, broken bridge and I tumbled into the water.  We soon reached a series of snowy traverses, and my feet remained soaked. 

Lush, colorful, marshy meadows covered the top of Ptarmigan Pass.  Snowmelt rushed in all directions converting the trail into a creek and the meadow into a swamp.  

A short sidetrip took me to Granite Falls.  Torrents of water poured over the smooth granite cliff. The roar of the water filled my ears even as the cool spray misted my face.

A large bull moose waited near the end of the trail. He slowly grazed his way toward the trailhead parking lot, seemingly oblivious to his large crowd of adoring fans. I backed away as he approached, although not before he came within 10 feet. 

Our Rocky Mountain National Park CDT loop complete, we headed to Grand Lake for dinner at the Sagebrush BBQ and Grill. The restaurant served a delicious dinner in a unique environment: the restaurant used to house the old courthouse and jail. Peanut shells covered the floor, as signs everywhere instruct patrons to throw the shells from the complementary peanuts onto the floor. 


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