CDT Days 61-63: RMNP and the Never Summer Wilderness

Day 61: 27 Miles

Today we walked through Rocky Mountain National Park. For a thru-hiker, a National Park means a few things. First, it means the trail is going to be very nice. Well graded, wide, maintained. Second, it means there will be a lot more people around than usual. Lastly, it means the wildlife is less afraid of humans.

We saw deer, elk, and moose, none of which seemed very concerned about us. We ate lunch near a bold marmot who wanted us to share (we didn’t).

No bear sightings, but there were quite a few people out. We spent about 5 miles above the treeline in high winds, but the rest of the day was pretty pleasant. In the afternoon we crossed the Colorado River. It was pretty cool to see this mighty river so far upstream, where it is little more than a creek.

We set up camp just past the park boundary, at the edge of the Never Summer Wilderness.

Day 62: 28 Miles

Today we climbed over our last 12,000+ foot peak! It was a long and tough climb and a long ridge walk down, but the highest elevations are behind us now, and that feels nice.

We had huge and awesome views from the top of the peak. I could see smoke from a wildfire burning to the South. We saw 3 more Moose today. First two females walking along the trail, then a huge bull also very near the trail who refused to move. We gave him a wide berth and went around.

Day 63: 29 Miles

We might not have to climb over 12,000 feet anymore, but we still have some high and steep climbs to contend with. This morning was no exception, as we were climbing steep trail up and over ridges all morning long.

After lunch we joined a dirt road and started descending down toward Steamboat Springs. In New Mexico, we dreaded the road walks. It usually meant little shade, little water, and sparse camping options, not to mention dust from traffic. In Colorado, the road walks are a relief. The grade is less severe, the track is wide, there is less exposure and little traffic.

We were able to make up some time after our tough morning and make it to the edge of the paved road walk toward town tomorrow. We had beautiful views all day of the mountains and valleys surrounding us. It’s very pretty up here.