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Day 95: 10/27/17  Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and back to Montrose!

Miles: 3 Steps: 7,986 Vertical gain: 2,140 Liquid consumed: 128 oz. Wildlife: Birds, cattle, humans Faith in Humanity: Got a ride so I didn’t have to hike the Riad twice! Very nice, thank you so much!!!! Well well! A day of decisions! I looked at the map last night and there is an alternate route I could take today and tomorrow to avoid some of the highway, BUT it involves longer miles, a kind of long bushwhack and there’s no water. I really did debate this but ultimately decided it’d be more fun to try to sleep in and hang out in Black Canyon a bit longer... Why is Black Canyon called Black Canyon, you may ask? Because it’s so steep and narrow, the bottom doesn’t get much sunlight, causing it to be dark and “black”. Certainly held true where I was. Such an incredibly beautiful place! Sunset last night was probably my favorite, but this morning was really beautiful too! Since I opted not to take the longer route, I had some time to relax. I read, stated in awe at the beautiful canyon, ate some food, and relaxed some more! Around 10am I finally left, starting the incredibly steep ascent out of the canyon. I must say, climbing out is much easier than going down: footing and balance are much more sure. Of course it’s harder on the lungs, but luckily I’ve built up some fitness on this trip! It felt great to be challenged by a steep climb, something I don’t get on the roads... looking at my climb time on Strava I actually did the climb faster with my big pack on than I did when I was here a few months ago and did this route as a day hike! Made me feel great that I’ve built strength and fitness! I’ve been to Black Canyon 8 or so times now and I must say I really love it there! I’m surprised it’s not higher on the list of must-visit places as it’s so stunning! I chatted with the ranger in the visitors center and realized a couple things. First, Holly, the ranger, was really cool! 2nd, I always seem to say something silly to the park rangers about visitor usage or something and come off the wrong way. I’ll try to ask more questions to learn things. Haha, not sure that makes the most sense, but it does to me... Next up I was presented with an ethical dilemma: I was surely going to walk out of the park, but after that, should I try to hitchhike back to Montrose OR should I hike the roads again? I have made a full continuous human powered line on this trek, but do I NEED to hike sections both directions? I walked the entire way from Montrose on the roads to the park, should I walk it back? I’m sure different people think different things, but this is my trip... Upon exiting the park I threw out my thumb as a car immediately passed... it kind of passed me, then stopped 100 yards down the road. It was pretty funny: “Why are you hitchhiking up here?” They’d never picked up a hitchhiker before and were rightfully a bit cautious. I presented my business card, told my story, and I was in! A mother and her two kids in their late 20s. Nice chatting with them on the way to town. One funny thing: at the end I asked the female daughter if she wanted a card to follow along. “No, I’m good” was her response! That was so funny to me for some reason! I definitely wasn’t trying to hit on her or anything just encourage more people to follow along on the journey... haha, you win some you lose some. Thanks so much for the ride! Lots of relaxing in Montrose occurred for the remainder of the day as it was too far a hike to make it to the next legal place to sleep...

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