July 8 the rest in the cabin was so nice. I woke up and watched the chick flick "post grad" and twinkle got in at about 12. It was great to see him and his girlfriend grace and catch up for a bit. We got going on the trail at about 3 and instantly began seeing moose. A big bull that stood and chewed his grass right by us unbothered, another moose with her calf, and one more skittish one. Talking to someone and bouncing ideas off one another was enjoyable and the time flew by. We passed lush meadow after lush meadow and chose a campsite under a large bowl accented with black rock, green vegetation and snowy patches. Twinkle and I had the plan to hike the last half together so we will be hiking together from here on out.
7/9 We awoke with the plan of doing 35 miles so we could be in a good spot to get into town early to get to the post office. We saw that there was a good amount of elevation gain, but worked toward the goal anyway. Coming up over Bowen Pass was beautiful, with two moose sightings and the sun rising over our first view of a spacious valley floor below us. Once again smitten by the greenness of our surroundings. Down we went to prepare for our next climb. We got to a road where we rested a bit and scoped Parkview Mountain and the routes we could take. We decided to take the back ridge as it wouldn't be as steep. A steady pace up turned into a more stop and go pace the higher we went up until we got onto the ridge that we climbed to the top. There was a little hut that smelled like horses and we got some phone calls out. After going up the ridge, we went back down the other side and headed west toward a large mound called Haystack Mountain. The trail showed us traversing the side following a contour line, which translated to 40 up, 50 feet down, 30 up, 20 down, and so on. What looked to be an easy section beat us more. We made it to Troublesome pass where we would begin the final climb up to the continental divide and we spread apart and listened to our preferred music or podcasts to intrigue and motivate us up the hill. I listened to This American Life and decided to take a break after the one hour episode was over. After learning about green card lotteries, I sat down behind a tree to be protected by the wind and twinkle showed up after just a couple minutes. We cooled down, then made our way to the top of the ridge. Shorter breaks became more frequent and very enjoyable because of the surroundings; grassy ridge line for miles with a sun getting ready to set. To our west we saw a rock formation that looked like a dilapidated castle, in the far distance the flat top mountain range. We quickly discussed what we would do if we saw Santa Claus in real life, then we made our way down the nicest part of the trail of the day-- a gradually descending downhill to the valley. Where we intended to camp we ran into Malarkey and hung out for a few minutes before crashing. Laying down hurt, but the rest was welcomed and needed. 35 hard miles done.
7/11 We all rolled out at about 5 and hopped up on the divide where there was a forest road that we were to take all the way to the highway to hitch into Steamboat Springs. We made it to the road by 12 and just then it started pouring rain. After 5 minutes we were saved by Mike who likes to drink and drive. The hitch into town took forever as mike eased his way in. We were dropped off by an outfitter and then we made a beeline to the Taco Bell. After my cheesy gordita crunch and some tacos I went and met up with a high school friend Billy who was in town also, then got my resupply and went back to the Taco Bell. Twinkle guarded the packs and we restocked our food. A little girl sincerely asked if I was a cave man and then we got a hitch back to the trail from a Jamaican uber driver that was listening to a particularly good spotify playlist. It took us 4 miles to find a decent campsite where we stopped and hopped in our tents to escape the wrath of the Mosquitos. So we are 3 now, trying to do 35s daily.