Day 42: 9/4/17 Back to the hostel in Grand Lake. Side trip in the park great success!

Miles: 19 Steps: 35,861 Vertical gain: Strava knows Liquid consumed: 190 oz (so many sierra mist's with pizza!) Wildlife:Pika (sure are cute!), marmot, grouse, moose across a field with lots of people staring (it was pretty far away) Faith in Humanity: Amazing acoustic concert at the hostel. Thank you! Also, cool people at pizza place, outfitter,chatting on street, so much!!!! What a great day! Another amazing challenging and interesting day of Walk The Parks. I was off early to climb the pass. Thunder lake is a great name and beautiful spot! I climbed and climbed the "unimproved" primitive trail which was easy to follow and steep. Beautiful towering mountains all around. I slowly and carefully climbed the last steep loose bit and made the pass! Halfway done, I was actually most worried about the downhill bushwhack from the pass to Fourth Lake. The slopes have got to be over 40 degrees in some places and quite steep everywhere else too, and grass covered so a bit slippery as well. Ha, I'm making it sound worse than it was. Still, it was challenging. I took a new route figuring it couldn't be any worse than my route a couple days ago. I followed game trail whenever I could and carefully navigated blowdowns. I found a better route for sure and was excited to havevye hard part of my hike over! Hard part over? Yeah right. It was so hot today! And the trail is pretty steep downhill for a long way. I was excited to get back to town, having already hiked this section. I still for sure enjoyed the beauty though, and really was just noticing a little dehydration and not eating enough causing me to be a tiny bit cranky. Wahhh, I have to hike in the beautiful National Park. Wahh, I passed 6 alpine lakes and bushwhacked over TH Continental Divide! Haha, so fun! There were quite a few people on the trail down lower. You really do need to go pretty far and gain quite a lot of elevation to see the first Lake. Cool trail though, really well constructed and some impressive rock stairway climbs and a really cool part along a ledge with great views of Grand Lake. I ran into a family with 3 small children. They asked if I thought they could make it to a lake. Given the time they'd started, progress made and time it was now sadly I had to say no. Wasn't trying to discourage them, but you've got to be honest... The parking lot was quite full as it was Labor Day. I dreamed of a cold drink but no one was tailgating the trailhead post trip, sadly. I hiked the 1.5 mikes ok the paved road back to town. I hung out at the outfitter for a bit, returned my bear canister, chatted with a guy from Boston who loved living in Denver, bought a new pair of socks. Since I have yet to find an ideal sock, I've been trying to test out as many different brands as possible and one pair I have just developed a pretty large hole. Really enjoyed the outfitter. Several people outside the store were quite interested in my journey. One gentleman and I discussed the best GPS app to use and I told him about Gaia GPS. It does cost money but you can download amazing maps and it works so well! It's funny. I have a top of the line Garmin GPS unit and the only thing I use it for is 1 text per day where it doesn't need cell service. Even then I pair it to it phone with Bluetooth and type the message on my phone as it's much easier. Literally every single feature of the Inreach is done far far far superior on an smartphone. Rant over. Anyway he was really cool to speak to and I gave him a card so I hope he follows along. I made my way to the grocery store and met more gear locals. The woman there was more than happy to let me put my backpack in the front of the store and was really nice to chat with a bit. I bought food for my hike to Berthoud Pass, my next resupply point. I also purchased some food to make at the hostel... I made it a block and a half. The pizza restaurant was calling. I was so hungry! I went in and that was that! I ordered a pepperoni pizza from Grand Pizza and ate the entire thing. It was so good. It wasn't an individual pizza either. 12" I think with fairly thick crust. Oh it was so good! I also drank at least 5 Sierra Mist sodas. Haha not the healthiest meal or drink but it was just so good! And 2 people in the restaurant chatted me up for a bit. One local came in and even sat down with me and talked about my trip and told me about some outdoor adventures he'd been on. Another guy came over and said his friend lived in Aspen! and has done a ton of thru hikes. I didn't know the guy though. Nice to meet you gentlemen!! I waddled back to the hostel. Shower was magnificent. I played a couple of games of Kings chess with staff at the hostel which was really fun. My German partner Jan and I won 2 games in a row. Thanks for the hospitality guys! Next up I walked inside and there was a concert! Two talented singers and acoustic guitar players who worked at the hostel played for several hours to a crew of about 20 of us. So awesome! Seriously! How many good things can happen? It just keeps going and it's amazing. After the concert I chatted with some other hostel guests and stayed up far too late. I get excited easily (haha, most people who know me sure know this about me!) What a fun day! Long hike, and full of town adventures. Off to Winter Park and Fraser next.

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