June 30th
Grand Lake(1219.9)-Bowen Lake(1232.3)
Campsite Elevation: 11,019ft
Estero and I decided to hike out of Grand Lake together at a leisurely time. We looked at the maps and mileage and figured out that a half day today would line us up best for arriving into Steamboat Springs the first half of the day on the Fourth of July. I was excited to sleep in and got myself to stay in bed til 6:45am before I got up to get things done. The hope was to watch a show or two on Hulu, but somehow the time always goes by too fast. I had some phone calls and emails to do, Skyped with my sister and nephew, and had two breakfasts. The second one was one that Estero and I made at the hostel of sausage and eggs. I don’t normally eat sausage, but I’ve really been trying to keep from losing weight, so I ate 5 sausages. Two short of my half, so Estero had 9, blech! Also, this morning, I got to talking with another woman staying at the Shadowcliff with her family while traveling and they were kind enough to donate $20 to my hike. So kind! Their daughter Leah even put on my pack filled with 5 days of food and she did great with it! THANK YOU to Blanca, John, and Leah!!! Just more unbelievable kindness from strangers!

We examined the maps and talked to other hikers and decided on a good route for leaving Grand Lake because there were many choices. It was less about mileage and more about the best hiking. We decided on a route that went into Rocky Mountain National Park a bit, then skirt a high elevation lake, and then goes up high on a ridge walk that is said on the maps not to miss. Then we got packed up and organized food. I got my resupply with more Cliff Bars from Corrina, Reeses and a Mountain House from my aunt Edie and uncle George, a Mountain House from Heart, and unique gift of a mini SD card with music from a blog follower named Josh. I’m really excited about that one as I can put the card in my MP3 player and listen to it. THANK YOU to all of you for your care packages!

As we hiked out, Bo arrived at the hostel and said that Sycamore, Bloodbath, Rampage, and Softwalker were in town too. The rest of the crew are due in tomorrow. They are two days behind me and we’ve been keeping in touch. I will zero in the next town where they will hopefully catch up.
It was difficult to leave Grand Lake and the Shadowcliff. I definitely could have zeroed and it is really relaxing. Possibly my favorite trail town l, but it needa better wifi. Estero and I hiked in the forest most of the day. The mosquitoes are getting much more aggressive, but I’m still trying to hold off on using the Deet. There were some pretty cool meadows here and there and we even saw a momma moose with her kid. The moose are everywhere out here!

At the end of the day, the elevation went up steeply. That’s when it was obvious that Estero can fly much faster than me up hills. I doubt we’ll be together for too much longer because the uphills are just easy for Estero and he practically runs up them! I also keep forgetting to mention that the past week my cough and ability to breathe deeply have worsened. I am using the inhaler more regularly and it is mostly when I go up steeply and either stop, try to talk, or dip back downhill that the coughing happens. Once I’m at camp, it lessens and eventually goes away for the night. Slightly annoying, but I’m glad it isn’t worse.
By 6pm, we reached Bowen Lake and saw the ridge we’d be on for the next four miles. It looked really cool and we decided to go ahead and camp rather than push over. There are actually a lot of locals camped around here too. Here is the lake with Cascade Mtn behind it. We immediately go up there tomorrow and get to walk along that ridge at just over 12,000ft.

We made good mileage for the day and it fits perfectly for the timing of this leg. Plus, there were storm clouds that had been threatening all day with thunder and raindrops. We quickly set up our tents just to have it skirt just to the side of us. It’s a great campsite and I can hear the waterfall in the lake from where we are camped. We got to have a leisurely camp night and just relax. Here is Estero and our campsite.

We agreed that it was a great way to start off this leg with last leg being so challenging. It didn’t even feel like we were thru hiking and we both felt like we were on a weekend trip back home. Just a great relaxing day!

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