La Plata and I rejoined for a second hike this summer along the Continental Divide Trail. We met at the Bowen Gulch trailhead off Hwy 34, inside the Rocky Mountain National Park. We left my car there for our finish and drove through Granby for Hwy 125, which took us up to Willow Creek Pass.
The yellow and burnt orange aspen were much thicker here than in RMNP. La Plata said the colors were incredible between Durango and this valley. Their color was echoed by the sun setting under plumes of smoke from the Kremmling fire as we drove up the pass. The smoke filtered blues on top of hot pinks, mirroring the inferno below, telling the story of our summer with the sky on fire.
We set off at 6:30am and tracked forty-five minutes of fast-paced progress before I discovered I’d left the keys to my car back in La-Plata’s car at Willow Creek Pass. This added ninety minutes to our twenty-two mile trek, and a good four more miles. Today would be a marathon.
I discovered a new 200 calorie snack bar that I highly recommend – Bulletproof. I ate their lemon cookie for breakfast. Yum. I doubt there is anything else on the health food market anywhere close to this tasty. The Kremmling fire smoke is in the picture below – those aren’t clouds.
Hiking with La Plata is like trail running with anyone else. Fortunately, the section of the Continental Divide Trail between the Willow Creek trailhead and Bowen Gulch near Grand Lake is mostly below tree line. My breathing seemed good despite the altitude and La Plata’s torrid pace. He schooled me with this unyielding pace for the earlier blunder with the keys, not slowing down until we crossed Bowen Pass, our high point a little above treeline.
Can’t thank him enough. Always the coach, and actually a personal fitness instructor, this training will serve me well for the three days of trail half marathons in Utah and Arizona next month. I did have to run at times to catch up with La Plata in the early going. I took advantage of downhill sections of trail. We maintained a strong two mile per hour pace. That’s good for high altitude mountain trails. Standard walking pace is about three miles per hour. I don’t expect the Trailfest to be nearly this challenging, except that it’s three days in a row for a total of thirty seven miles. Recovery will be paramount.
I missed the photo-taking for Ellie’s homecoming dance. The kids looked good. The first photo is with Ellie and her boyfriend Will at Chautauqua. The second is the group shot.