Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Day 29: Green Mountain Trailhead to Willow Creek Pass
An elk fearlessly grazed in the campground. Several female elk with young started to migrate down to the campground, but stopped short when a car whizzed past on the highway.
Our trail continued to meander aimlessly through Rocky Mountain National Park before finally crossing Highway 34 and heading out toward Bowen Gulch. We soon left the park and entered Never Summer Wilderness, a name with special meaning to the skiers in us.
Despite the name, summer is definitely here in this northern Colorado wilderness. We cross fewer snow patches each day, and the remaining snow is melting fast. Wildflowers fill the meadows and cover the grassy mountainsides.
We climbed crossed a few snow patches as we climbed over Bowen Pass. After meandering in the forest, our trail began following Willow Creek. Although the trail is restricted to non-motorized travel, deep ruts evidenced where motorized dirt bikes had driven through when the trail was wet and muddy.
We startled a rich chocolate mother moose and her tan baby grazing near Willow Creek. They quickly lumbered up the embankment and disappeared into the forest.
We followed a ridge next to a vertical wall of rocks. Sierra, of course, felt compelled to take off her pack and scramble up the rocky wall. Then we hurried down the trail to Willow Creek Pass, where we planned to meet Jeff. No one was there.
Chimichanga's trail magic provided some consolation, but after an hour passed and the temperature dropped, I began to worry. Like so many places on the CDT, no signs marked the trail crossing, and I realized the crossing would be hard to find. Finally, after an hour and a half of waiting, we decided to hitchhike into Granby where we could warm up, try to contact Jeff, and get a room if need be. We stood next to the road and Sierra put out her thumb as soon as we heard the sound of a motor. Magically, the first vehicle, a work truck, pulled right over.
Just as we were piling in, we heard honking as another vehicle pulled up behind. Jeff! Jeff had been waiting at another, better marked, trailhead down the road. He whisked us away to a campground, where we got set up and made a hot dinner.
Posted by Heather and Sierra at 8:30 PM