Total trip miles: 1200.9
I woke up to the sound of the wind. And you know that just sounded miserable, my day was going to start with a 3 mile climb up to James Peak which is over 13000 ft. So I just burrowed back into my sleeping bag.
Eventually I did get up and moving. The day was going well. Surprise seasonal creeks, and it was windy but it wasn't as bad as the day before. I think not being on a cliff edge helps, but it just wasn't quite as cold out either. I found out later the day before had been 38 on the ridge.
I was really taking my time, not feeling rushed just happy. Almost at the top I see a familiar face, Messed Up. He was one of the folks who flipped up to Wyoming. It was fun catching up but you can't talk forever.
I kept up my meandering pace. Up and over and then a steep descent. I made friends with a ton of day hikers and was pretty unconcerned with anything. It even got warm enough to take off layers. That's when I looked at where I was. I was trying to be very mellow and happy but 5 miles by ten? Umm I was not going to get to Grand Lake if I didn't start moving.
The trail was pretty and soon enough I was following posts along the divide. Small ups and downs but nothing too exciting. At first I was enjoying it but the cross country started to get me frustrated. It looked nice from afar but up close it was just miles of uneven tread. My ankles and feet weren't happy and by going so slowly I was low on water. Not a good combo.
Tiring cross country, deceiving green
I finally got to Rollins Pass and after a snack and some snowmelt puddle I was happy again. I entered Indian Peaks Wilderness and found myself getting super chatty with day hikers again. Oh well, at least there was trail to walk on.
The views were good but the best part were the wildflowers. They are unreal and absolutely everywhere.
A little climbing and then down into
The forest. Nothing to thrilling but at least it waited to pour until I was in the trees. The thunder was pretty impressive and I was glad to be low.
Thankfully this seemed like a genuine monsoon. Here and gone after an hour. In the ending drizzle I even saw a giant bull moose.
Fuzzy bull moose
Then it was miles of forest and meadow. There were even some bridges and this rad boardwalk. My feet were still soaked but the effort was appreciated.
I got to the visitor center (closed of course) but there was a register outside. Cookie Monster and Chilton passed through today! Which means as long as they aren't super early there's a solid chance I'll have other hikers in Grand Lake. Perfect.
Back on the trail it was more forest and meadows. When I did stop it was because it was the best spot I'd seen. This area has a shocking number of dead and down trees. Not a very comforting place to sleep. But tomorrow is a town day, it won't be a short one with 19ish miles to go but hey town is town.
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