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Day 40: 9/2/17 A walk in Rocky Mountain National Park, let's bushwhack the divide!

Miles: 18 Steps: 40,030 Vertical gain: Strava knows Liquid consumed: 134 oz Wildlife: 3 Moose: Mom and two babies almost directly on trail, squirrels, chipmunk, deer (national park deer who seem to have no real fear of humans) Faith in Humanity: Met two really nice guys from Boulder and Seattle on top of the Divide who shared good conversations and Zuchinni bread. 2 other guys I met on trail from Seattle and we chatted for eaasily an hour. Thanks for being rad! Also talked to an older couple for a while at Thunder Lake that were very nice! Amazingly after going to bed so late last night and having a few drinks I was up, ready,packed, and out the door by 7:15am today. I walked 1.4 miles down the paved road to the Trailhead and East Inlet Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can definitely tell this park gets a ton of traffic. The main trails are like superhighways compared to what I've been walking daily on the CDT. Nicely graded, zero blow downs, quite wide, etc. After a couple miles I came upon 3 hikers. A mom and 2 baby moose were right next to the trail. Have you ever met someone with a strong leadership personality but thought "this person should absolutely not be the leader?" This is how we were led by the moose, by a woman getting way too close and explaining (falsely) that she knew what she was doing and what the animals wanted us to do. Comical, but we all survived, it's all good. Next, after 7 miles or so on the trail I had to start my bushwhack cross-country section. I did meet 2 hikers who said they had just done the route and they said it was actually quite difficult and not very straightforward. Haha, well this will be interesting! I found some resemblance of trail and headed steeply up. I think a few years ago before the whole pine beetle epidemic that killed so many trees there was probably a faded but ok path to follow. With so man downed trees in recent years though, this no longer exists. I followed some Moose and Elk trails when I found them and avoid obstacles like steep rock faces and blowdowns when I could. Sure was steep! Really hope it's dry when I do it again on my way out. Eventually, like everything, step by step I made my way up and above treeline and to Boulder-Grand Pass, my path over the Continental Divide. Here I met two gentlemen who had climbed a peak nearby. This climb down was steep and pretty loose in some places. The ranger I got my permit from described it as "having tread". Not really but it wasn't so bad. I did slip a bit once which scared me for a minute but all is well. The 3 of us hiked together for the next couple miles. Nice guys to chat with for sure. Thanks for the positive interaction, gentlemen! We hiked to the outlet of Thunder Lake, took a break, and went our seperate ways. Mr. Chatty aka me then chatted up an older couple and talked a while about my trip, there lifestyle which seemed to mostly involve traveling between several homes across the country, and they were real nice. I mean I'm chatty normally, but out here it's next level! Being alone so much makes me talk up anyone I can! It's really fun! After a long break I started the final 3 miles to my designated campsite. Along the way I chatted up (again!) 2 guys from Seattle on a 6 week road trip. We ended up talking for an hour and a half or so about all sorts of topics. Really hit it off well with them, hopefully our paths will cross again! Eventually I made my campsite and set up my tent and are some food and did everything setting up camp involves. I was asleep by 8:30pm, exhausted from the hike and the lack of sleep the night before.

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