CDT Day 136 (CO – G. Lake to W. Park)

Colorful Colorado Lake Views

  • CDT Miles: 1,343.6-1,316.2 (27.4)
  • Total Hiked: 2,290.1 miles
  • Elevation Range: 8,285-10,460

I was up before 6am and after a little while just hanging in bed, packed up in the dark, and headed down to the room with the big wooden tables. Volunteer Kerry was already up again and I joined. We both agreed the coffee had been brewed a tad weak and so each added some organic instant grounds to our mugs for a little more kick. That did the trick. I had my classic town banana and also a double chocolate chip muffin, which I’m partial to, and then left this wonderful place at 6:50am.

The night before I’d written them a little poem for their guest log. They’d just started a new book, so I got on the first page haha…

“Into Grand lake after hiking the loop
What’s this town like, what’s the scoop?
Up the hill to Shadowcliff I trundled.

Ready for rain, I was all bundled.

Y’all took me in and I felt right at home
And that mattress, is that memory foam?
Ok maybe not, but this place oh so cozy
Stay another night and hang I did mosey.

Thank you staff! You were so kind,
So happy our paths intertwined.
I’m hiking the trail and y’all are part of that journey
Rested up now, nothing can deter me.
This place, so special, may it continue to thrive.
And be so welcoming to all that arrive.”

If any of y’all have been to Grand Lake in the summer, you wouldn’t recognize it pre-7am during the off/shoulder season. Pretty empty…

I passed by the coffee shop, then the bagel shop, both getting ready to open at 7:00am. Then I made my way into the Sagebrush BBQ and Grill where I’d eaten two nights before. Sadly, I wasn’t getting breakfast. Nope, just popping in because I’d left my credit card with them! They had it and all was well again with the world.

The trail goes right through town following roads that eventually take it to a bridge that crosses the two halves of Grand Lake. I took a little detour down to the docks for viewage before making my way there…

Found a wooden castle on my way as well…

Over the bridge, then a little more road before reaching the East Shore Trailhead…

Today would be a lot of really nice lakeside walking, which meant a good amount of flat-ish terrain too, particularly in the first half of the day. I started out along Grand Lake (quite big), then wound over to the Colorado River, which essentially turned into Lake Granby (very big), and then road walked up to Monarch Lake (small in comparison to the others).

Here’s a screenshot of the route starting off the day…

This is definitely the scenic side of Grand Lake. It’s not developed and actually I ended up going into Rocky Mountain National Park for about 5 miles along the shore, who knew? You could still hear road noise from across the way on Highway 34, but pretty awesome nonetheless.

The Colorado River…

I assume these lakes, or at least Lake Granby is damned up(?). So, really this was the only part of the river that looked like a river. It started getting wide and lake-ish afterwards. The water level appeared a little down. And the yellow leaves were stupendous.

Got up high above Lake Granby for a while. The first bit I saw was just a smaller wing of the lake, after hiking out of the park and up to a ridge, I saw the much bigger body of wager. It’s a giant lake and quite stunning. Wow! Just soaking it in…

Transitioning now from Lake Granby to Monarch Lake, the trail went by this interesting old looking shed. Some serious rocky mountains up above…

So getting into Rocky Mountain National Park the other day and staying in Grand Lake… I’m sort of entering the part of Colorado I’m most familiar with. Not that I know any of it super well, but I worked a summer in Granby (many moons ago now) and the trail is now skirting around that area. Plus, in 2019 my fam did a trip out here together and this Monarch Lake was a spot we went for a day hike. The whole crew pretty much, walked around the lake. It’s a beautiful spot and today it was full of day hikers. I’m talking like parking lot packed and parked down the road a ways, full.

Check out this crew in 2019…

As I arrived, I saw some tent stuff laid out along the shore and a backpack that had the look of a potential CDT’er. On second glance, I found the hiker and asked, “CDT?”

“Yep, you?”

I finally found another hiker again! This guy’s trail name is Moose and he took a longer stop in Steamboat and now is aiming to catch his buddies ahead. True sobo’er. I had lunch there with him, but left before him since he was doing a full pack dump/ everything dry out.

Here’s Monarch Lake…

After a mile and a half, basically the other side of the lake, the CDT cuts off the main lake loop trail and heads up to above 10,000 feet via switchbacks. No more day hikers on that route for some reason. Got some views of big mountains on the way up…

Once up there, the trail got decently cruisy. I’m happy that this late in the season there’s been so much trail work done! Trees removal is the most noticable.

I was surprised at one point to realize how close ones to Meadow Creek reservoir. This was a spot I came to camp a few times when at snow mountain ranch. And visited in 2020 with my brother and crew on their vacation. I didn’t actually see the lake since the trail stayed in the forest above it, but was only a quarter mile away maybe… Just for my own fun, included some past photos at good ole Meadow Creek Reservoir (I might continue this as I go along too)..

2021 with Abram and Julia and crew…

And back in 2008, just two of my fellow Snow Mountain Rancher’s setting sail out on the reservoir…

Ok back to the present. Found some nice meadows, but mostly woods and an occasional open spot to see the higher peaks above…

I found my camp at 6:25pm and was quite tired. I felt real good today after my zero day, but was dragging at the end. Suppose that’s expected though. Moose went by around 7pm and said he was going another mile. Maybe we’ll connect tomorrow again, we shall see. Excited to go up even more tomorrow!

Album of the Day

“American Fool” – John Mellencamp (1982)

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